Leeds Cathedral Choirs have received a five-figure sum in grant funding from The Cathedral Music Trust: a share of a total of £400,000 in grants to support high-quality music provision at 22 choral foundations across the UK.
The seven Choirs of Leeds Cathedral are drawn from children in our world-renowned Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme (SSP), which not only gives music education opportunities to young people of all backgrounds, but also brings them and their families back into church and parish life, prompting Bishop Marcus to describe it as ‘…one of the most effective forms of evangelisation I have seen and experienced’.
Upon hearing of our successful grant application, Thomas Leech (Director of the SSP) said: ‘We are delighted to receive this very generous support from the Cathedral Music Trust – allowing us to begin a transformative programme to develop greater diversity of leadership in Cathedral music. The grant will provide theory and vocal tuition to our Cathedral Choristers, develop our Organ Scholars’ skills and create four new Choral Scholarships focusing on choral leadership, linking with our ground-breaking Schools Singing and Keyboard Studies Programmes. The children we see every day in schools across the Diocese of Leeds have astonishing potential, but there are so often multiple and complex barriers that prevent this being realised – we hope that this generously funded extension of our work will continue to improve access and inclusion in Cathedral music.’
Three other Catholic Cathedrals – Arundel, Salford and Westminster – have also benefited from the 2022 grants programme, which was set up to sustain and expand the work of leading choirs within cathedrals and churches across the UK, enabling our sacred musical heritage to evolve and thrive, and to inspire future generations.
The grants reflect the determination of all those working in cathedral music to play their part in supporting the recovery of this centuries old tradition following the pandemic. The Trust has been encouraged by the commitment of choral foundations to sustain musical excellence in worship and develop future talent through chorister education and engagement programmes. These programmes are vital in ensuring choral foundations can further widen and diversify the pool from which choristers are recruited. The past two years have seen the Cathedral Music Trust adapt its grant-giving in response to the global pandemic, both through its own programmes and its involvement in the Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund, which saw £1 million raised and distributed to help cathedral music recover from the devastating financial impact of lockdowns. In 2022, the Trust has awarded funding both to support the ongoing work of music departments and to help them flourish and grow by working together with their communities, giving children and young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to experience the many benefits of participating in cathedral music.
Peter Allwood, Chair of Cathedral Music Trust, said: ‘Sacred choral music brings joy to people and life to our cathedrals, churches and communities. This round of funding from Cathedral Music Trust will help develop the music making in choral foundations that is deeply loved and admired by local communities and international audiences. We are very aware of continued financial pressures on music across the UK’s cathedrals and churches, and as in previous years, we received more applications than we could fund. The Trust remains deeply committed to increasing support for all working in cathedral music, both through its funding programmes, and through advocacy and campaigning.’