Music

For full details of our services and music, please see the link towards the bottom of the Home Page. Music is a major part of life in the Cathedral, and the Cathedral Choir sings at all of the major services and festivals throughout the year. It is the only choir in Scotland to sing daily services, and is remarkable in being the first cathedral choir in Britain to admit girls to sing alongside the boy choristers. The Choir has an outstanding reputation as one of the best cathedral choirs in Britain and has made several recordings in recent years to widespread critical acclaim. We are always keen to encourage potential new choristers.

The Cathedral has a fine “Father” Willis organ, and in 2007 acquired a magnificent new Steinway concert grand piano. The Cathedral hosts many concerts and musical events throughout the year, and presents a busy Festival programme during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August every year. This includes daily lunchtime recitals and many concerts in the evenings. For more details, please contact the Cathedral Office.

Visiting choirs are welcome to contribute to the music life of the Cathedral, especially during school holidays, when the Cathedral Choir is not in residence. The Cathedral also possesses a fine voluntary choir in the Chapter House Singers, which sings several services a year and performs concerts.

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Read about our renowned Cathedral Choir.

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Find out here about the Music Staff.

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The organ

Henry Willis built the organ in 1879 with four manuals, pedals and mechanical action at a cost of £2,500. In 1897 Robert Hope-Jones was employed to install electro-pneumatic key and stop action in a new detached console by the choir stalls. We are fortunate that this infamous organ builder did not touch the precious pipe work (it was he who developed the foghorn for lighthouses!)

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Choristers

The Choral Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for choristers to attend St Mary's Music School and also assists with funding of the Choir's Lay Clerks. The Provost, The Treasurer and The Master of the Music administer the scholarships.

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Our recent recordings have received many accolades and enthusiastic praise in the music press. In due course, you will be able to order them here.

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St Mary's Cathedral Choir Edinburgh, Songs of Praise recording

The St Mary’s Cathedral Music Society offers members of the public and those who have an association with the Cathedral's music an opportunity to support it directly, both financially and by their presence. Friends receive the following benefits: mailing of information highlighting details of the musical calendar; half price tickets for organ recitals; an annual reception in the Song School, and reserved seats at one of the Carol Services.

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The Chapter House Singers is a group of around 35 amateur singers based at St Mary’s Cathedral. They perform three concerts a year, and regularly provide music at services in the Cathedral when the Cathedral Choir is on holiday. The Music Director is Les Shankland.

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We are always delighted to welcome visiting choirs, especially during July and the weeks at the beginning and end of August, when our own Cathedral Choir takes its summer break. There are several other possible times during the year when our Choir is not in residence, and Saturday throughout the year is also open to visiting choirs who would like to sing Choral Evensong.

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