Winchester College was founded by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, in 1382, and Winchester College Quiristers have for over 625 years sung services in Winchester College Chapel. In modern times they have formed a choir renowned for its excellence, and their musical director is Howard Ionascu. Winchester College Chapel Choir sings the regular services in the College Chapel. The Quiristers, who form the top line of the choir, perform a wide variety of music at home and abroad. They benefit from bursaries, a first rate all-round education, and a particularly broad musical training which builds confidence, teamwork and a commitment to the highest standards. The Quiristers also sing on their own as a concert choir, as well as with Winchester College Chapel Choir, where they are joined by lower voices who are senior boys from the
College, many with previous experience as both choristers and
Quiristers. Until 1966 the Quiristers were educated in a small school within Winchester College but since that time they have attended The Pilgrims’ School, where they are given bursaries which are funded by Winchester College, and means tested top up funding is available up to 100 per cent.
At Pilgrims’ the Quiristers benefit from the best academic teaching and join in all the school’s sporting activities. In addition to singing the regular services each week in the College Chapel, the Chapel Choir broadcasts, records and goes on tour. In recent years they have sung in the USA, Italy, France, Holland, Russia and Germany. They have also performed Bach’s St. John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music. In 2016, they sang together with The Temple Church Choir, for a special 70th birthday concert for the composer John Rutter. They frequently appear on BBC TV and Radio, including the BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong programme, as well as Classic FM, and in 2015 a Quirister won the coveted BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition, the fourth such success in recent years.
The Chapel Choir has regularly broadcast the Classic FM carol service and the Quiristers have recorded Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols for BBC Radio 4. The Chapel Choir has recorded a number of discs with Convivium Records, including Stanford’s Choral Music, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and Mozart Requiem with the London Mozart Players.
Many former Quiristers and Chapel Choir members have gone on to take up university choral and organ scholarships and won places at top UK musical conservatoires.