The City of Christchurch was founded in 1850, the first city in New Zealand to receive a charter from Queen Victoria. It is named after the College of Christ Church at Oxford University, where the founders of The Canterbury Association attended.
Christchurch Cathedral was consecrated on 1 November 1881, seventeen years after the foundation stone was laid. A choir, based on the English cathedral tradition, was deemed essential for the services of consecration, so the choir, and choir school, were founded six months beforehand.
Today, the Choir is the only men and boys choir in New Zealand and one of only two in the Southern Hemisphere with its own choir school, The Cathedral Grammar School, to which all choristers receive scholarships. The 18 boys range in age from eight to 13. They sing five services and ten rehearsals each week during school terms. In addition there are civic functions, concerts and recitals. The 10 men consist of four lay clerks (professional singers), and six Godley/Wakefield Scholars, receiving scholarships which cover tertiary education costs.
Following they devastating earthquake in February 2011, the Cathedral community worshipped in the Chapel at Christ’s College, the private Anglican boys secondary school in Christchurch. In 2013, the Transitional Cathedral (often referred to as the “Cardboard” Cathedral, as cardboard forms much of the structure) was open and the full schedule of Cathedral worship has resumed there.
In 2008 the Choir undertook a very successful tour of the USA and UK, singing at many of the great Cathedrals and culminating in a week as residentiary choir at Westminster Abbey. A visit was made to Australia in 2013, where the Choir visited Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Goulburn.
A repeat visit was made to Sydney in 2018, as part of a hugely successful tour to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan.
In 2020 the Cathedral Chapter , with the full support of The Cathedral Grammar School, announced the formation of the Girl Choristers, following in the tradition of the English Cathedrals upon which we are based. The inaugural choristers were auditioned at the start of the year. Like many events at the Cathedral, their official launch was postponed (twice at the time of writing) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is currently planned for October. However, the Girl Choristers of the Cathedral Choir were blessed and formally welcomed into the Cathedral Choir at a Service of Choral Evensong on 13 September. They have now started to sing services in their own right.
The Director of Music, Dr John Linker, is always keen to hear from prospective members of the Choir, adults and choristers.
Any boy or girl up to and including Year 6 with a passion for music is encouraged to audition. Please contact Dr Linker for more information.