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Home: Choirs and Choral Music: Jobs offered:
Full time Choral Director
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Leeds Cathedral
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Jun 6, 2007, 12:07 PM

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The Diocese of Leeds has an innovative approach to liturgical music centred around its young people. The music programme currently involves 4 childrens choirs at the cathedral and 20 in Bradford. We wish to develop this outreach work from the Cathedral to more schools in the Diocese, particuarly in the areas of Huddersfield and Keighley, and as a result a new full time position is available.

This post is funded by Diocesan schools, in conjunction with the Department for Education and Skills.

Further information about music in the Diocese of Leeds can be found at:

Diocese of Leeds Seeks Choral Director

To deliver a singing curriculum to children in both primary and secondary schools throughout the Diocese, as part of a well established outreach program.

circa £20.0k plus full pension package

An application pack is available from:

Benjamin Saunders
Director of Music
Cathedral House
Great George Street
Leeds LS2 8BE

Tel. 0113 244 8634

Closing date: 19th June 2007

The post of Choral Director in the Diocese of Leeds



The Diocese of Leeds has one of the fastest growing and largest programmes of choral music for young people in the United Kingdom. It includes two boys’, three girls’ and a professional adult choir with eighteen choral scholars. Daily services are sung in the Cathedral, the choirs regularly broadcast on the BBC and have produced three commercial CD recordings. Concerts are also held every Thursday lunchtime in the Cathedral.

Singing in Diocesan Schools

The Diocese covers a large geographical area including Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Harrogate, Halifax and Ripon. The choral programme in the Diocese is on large scale because the Cathedral Director of Music also takes responsibility for music in Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese. Centres of singing excellence are therefore situated not only in the Cathedral in Leeds, but also in schools throughout the Diocese.

The first stage of the Diocesan schools singing programme involved Bradford and Keighley, who have enjoyed special musical provision since 2003. A consortium of high schools in this area entered in a funding partnership with the Diocese to offer an exceptional level of choral provision to their students. The Assistant Director of Music carries delegated responsibility for the delivery of this programme.

The current holder of this post, Christopher McElroy, has led the individual school choirs to several competition successes over the past eighteen months, including the prestigious title of ‘Yorkshire Schools’ Choir of the Year’ 2006 - 2007. The programme benefits from timetabled rehearsal slots for the choirs during the normal school day. In essence, this means that the children can develop beyond the level of many school choirs because they rehearse in school time rather than being dependent on parental commitment for after school rehearsals.

In September 2006, singing provision in Bradford was expanded to cover all of the primary schools. The post of Choral Director (Bradford) was established, allowing all Catholic school children in Bradford from the age of 6-18 to benefit from expert choral leadership.

In addition to the School Choirs, the Bradford Boys’ and Girls’ choirs have been formed, by audition, from the Catholic schools. These choirs rehearse weekly after school, and have enjoyed several high profile engagements including performing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, live broadcasting on BBC radio, and working with conductors such as John Rutter and Sir David Willcocks.

The repertoire of the choirs is an even mixture of secular and sacred. Concerts and competitions are an important part of the year, as is the liturgical function, singing in churches and at Leeds Cathedral. The success of this Diocesan model of young peoples singing has attracted considerable media interest, including recent articles in Cathedral Music, The Tablet and Church Music Quarterly and discussions on BBC Radio 3 The Choir programme. In November of this year, children drawn from all of the Bradford Schools will be featured in a BBC 1 broadcast of Songs of Praise.

Leeds Cathedral Choirs

The Cathedral has its own programme of three dedicated choirs which perform in rotation. Choral Vespers and Mass are sung Monday – Thursday each week, alongside three Sung Masses on a Sunday.

Places in the choirs are open to all; however these are subject to an audition, interview, perfect attendance record and good sight reading skills. Choral scholars are mainly music students at Leeds and Huddersfield University and Leeds College of Music. The girls choir attend many different schools across West Yorkshire. Notable national BBC broadcasts during the past few years have included Midnight Mass, Choral Vespers live on Radio 3 for the election of Pope Benedict XVI, Mothering Sunday and the anniversary of the attacks on 9/11. The choirs will once again broadcast Choral Vespers live on BBC Radio 3 in December of this year.

The cathedral pipe organ has been removed to Germany by Klais of Bonn and a new four manual Phoenix organ will be used until its restoration is complete. The pipe organ is to be enlarged and reorganised to accommodate the new central position of the choir in a reordered sanctuary. This complex work benefits from the advice of the cathedral organ consultant, David Sanger. The song school also houses a grand piano and further pianos are available in other rehearsal areas.

The first Diocesan Director of Music was Joseph Cullen, appointed in 1988, and now well known nationally as the chorus master of the London Symphony Chorus and Huddersfield Choral Society. The notable composer Stuart Thompson, now Head of Music at Caterham School, succeeded him, establishing the first girls’ choir in a Catholic cathedral. Benjamin Saunders was appointed in 2002 after holding posts at Downing College Cambridge, St Giles’ Edinburgh, Blackburn and Chester Cathedrals.

The new post of Choral Director

This post is designed primarily to enable the further development of the Diocosan schools singing program in new areas of the Diocese not previously covered. The postholder will have responsibility for delivering a choral curriculum to primary and secondary schools in Huddersfield and Keighley. In addition, the post holder will undertake outreach work to schools in Leeds and a new junior choir based at the Cathedral for boys and girls.

The new post holder will form part of a dynamic team which includes the Director of Music, Assistant Director of Music, Choral Director (Bradford) and the new post of Choral Director (Huddersfield and Keighley.) In addition to work in the schools, there is an opportunity to work in other areas dependent on the skills of the post holder. For example, an organist might be involved in accompanying Cathedral liturgies, or a singer may sing in the adult choir.

In July 2008, two of our Diocesan High School Choirs will be travelling to Graz, Austria to participate in the World Choir Games. In an innovative partnership, this project will be fully funded by the OPAL foundation with logistical and artistic input from Bradford and Huddersfield Universities. The new Choral Director will assist in preparing these choirs for what is the highlight of the international choral calendar.

The post is funded as a partnership between the Diocese of Leeds, Schools in Huddersfield and Keighley and the DfES.

The Choral Director position is suitable for an ambitious and creative musician with exceptional gifts in working with young voices. Previous leadership experience is useful, but not as essential as a proven ability as a children’s vocal trainer. Our choirs are well resourced, high achieving and over subscribed by applicants – the time is ripe for growth.

Post Title: Choral Director

Time commitment: Full time

Date of commencement: 1 September 2007 or as soon as possible thereafter

Purpose of post: To develop music within the Diocese of Leeds

To whom responsible: The Assistant Diocesan Director of Music in the first instance (line manager), with the support of the Director of Music and a Management Committee

Employer: The Diocese of Leeds Trustee

Probationary Period: Six months

Remuneration: In the region of £20k. Mileage allowance in Fixed Profit car scheme. Contributory pension scheme available after six months of employment.


• Diocesan Schools in Huddersfield and Keighley

The Choral Director will work with the Assistant Director of Music in devising and delivering a comprehensive choral curriculum to schools in Huddersfield and Keighley involved in the Diocesan Schools singing program. This may include singing classes in schools, directing school choirs and directing or assisting the Bradford Boys’, Girls’ and Youth Choirs. This is a well-resourced programme and is performance driven.

• Leeds Cathedral – In liaison with the Assistant Director of Music he/she will be responsible for:

(i) The termly outreach program to schools in Leeds

(ii) Forming, maintaining and leading a new junior choir at the Cathedral

Resources available: Music Department secretary; part-time assistant cathedral organist; eighteen choral scholarships; organ scholarship; choral conducting scholarship; composition scholarship; two parental choir support groups; two girls’ choirs; two boys’ choirs and one mixed voice professional adult choir

In service training: Encouraged, offered and arranged as appropriate

Faith commitment: Sensitive to the Christian ethos and worship of the Diocese. Applications are welcome from non-Catholics.

Conditions: Appointment to, and continuation in this post is conditional upon the satisfactory outcome of initial and periodic checks with the relevant statutory bodies to comply with child protection procedures


Qualities required:

• The ability to develop mature, and harmonious working relationships
• An excellent communicator skilled in consultation
• Ability in public speaking
• A willingness to take initiative and think strategically
• Ability to prioritise and manage time efficiently
• An outstanding trainer of young voices, with the ability to motivate and inspire singers
• The ambition and energy to achieve the highest possible standards of performance and recognition
• Excellent keyboard skills, especially as an accompanist on piano and/or organ

Qualifications: A thorough education at University, Conservatory or equivalent in any subject.


• The successful candidate will have had leadership experience as a choir trainer within an educational, secular or cathedral/church type institution
• Proven success at working with and relating to young singers
• Knowledge of child protection issues
• An understanding of the use of the media in promoting musical performances – computer skills advantageous
• A grasp of the importance of teamwork in creative leadership roles

The successful candidate will also need a full UK driving licence/transport to travel between schools and the cathedral.


Applicants should return the completed application form together with a covering letter indicating their interest in the position. Any supporting materials may be included in the application. These should be sent to:

Benjamin Saunders
Director of Music
Cathedral House
Leeds LS2 8BE

Tel. 0113 244 8634

Informal discussions or visits can be made by contacting the Director of Music.

Closing date: Tuesday 19th June, Short listing: Wednesday 20th June
Interviews: Tuesday 26th – Wednesday 27th June 2007.


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