Bedford School’s Chapel Choir has a rich and impressive history, and to this day proudly continues its centuries’ old, and increasingly rare, tradition of a boys-only choir singing choral music within a liturgical context.
With boys at the school from years 3 to 13, choir members are drawn from eight different year groups. This truly inter-generational group of 35 boys, whose ages range from ten to 18 years, sing the full repertoire of the English choral tradition, including Psalms, Canticles and Anthems. They sing in chapel services each week during term time and a full Choral Evensong once per term.
The Chapel Choir is of a very high standard and we are pleased to welcome a number of ex-cathedral choristers among our ranks, as well as having a strong treble section drawn from our own Prep School. The musical education provided by traditional choral singing is second to none, offering boys at the school opportunities to develop their musical understanding, sight-reading and aural abilities as well as a strong social aspect too. The boys of all year groups genuinely enjoy the opportunity to come together regularly, learn from each other and sing some of the most beautiful music ever written.
Music scholarships are available to boys at 13+ and 16+ (external applicants only), and a good voice or choral experience is taken into consideration.
Chorister Alexander Olleson was named BBC Young Chorister of the Year in 2020. Alexander joined Bedford School on a music scholarship after singing for five years with the world-renowned choir at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.
Performances and Tours
The Chapel Choir meets for regular rehearsals to prepare for weekly Sunday services in Chapel. They also tour annually, alternating between a residency at an English cathedral and travel to European destinations such as Belgium, France, Spain and Italy. In 2015, the Chapel Choir proudly sang as the sole robed choir at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
“We all benefited socially from fantastic tours that took my year to Venice, Paris and across parts of Western Germany before we reached the Upper School; singing in French, Italian, Latin and more, we were exposed to a whole world of music, and language, that we wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. Why I’m in the music industry, and why I’m pursuing a career in it, is largely down to the opportunities at Bedford, and the love of music that I found there.”
OB Harry Guthrie (07-17), Choral Scholar Trinity College, Cambridge
The School Chapel
The School Chapel is an iconic and beautiful grade II listed building with intricately carved pews, a beautiful altar, exquisitely stained-glass windows and a decorative ceiling. Built in 1908, the Chapel is the last building of the great late-Victorian architect, George Frederick Bodley, who was also responsible for the chapels of Marlborough College and Queens’ College, Cambridge. The building has a fine acoustic and houses a two manual Hill, Norman and Beard organ. At the heart of the campus, the Chapel is central to school life in every aspect.
Beyond Bedford School
Many Chapel choristers continue their love of singing and music beyond their time at Bedford School. In the last five years, 10 boys have gone on to study music at leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge, including four with Oxbridge Choral and Organ Scholarships.
“Being in the choir brought so many opportunities, from performing live on TV at the Royal Albert Hall to singing in Notre Dame, not to mention the great friendships made. It was a major part of each of my eleven years at Bedford. Singing with older and younger boys each week and being involved in events in the school calendar brought a sense of belonging. It was an environment in which to develop as a musician, and to build a relationship with a huge repertoire of music.”
OB Jim Cooper (05-16), Organ Scholar, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge