For a number of years, Leicester Cathedral’s Chorister Outreach Programme gave many children from all over the city and county the opportunity to develop their singing skills under the guidance of Cathedral musicians and to experience something of the liturgical and spiritual life of the Cathedral at end-of-term performances. Building on the foundations laid by the Chorister Outreach Programme, the Cathedral launched a new schools’ singing programme – DioSing! – in September 2012, which sought to establish more permanent partnerships between schools, churches in the wider Diocese and the Cathedral.
Vocal specialists (the two Choral Directors and the Cathedral Director of Music) now teach classroom singing for an hour a week in 24 primary schools around the Diocese, grouped in clusters around the Parish of All Saints with Holy Trinity, Loughborough, and Leicester Cathedral. The singing curriculum they deliver is designed not only to cover specific pieces of repertoire for one-off performances but also to teach the range of skills required of an advanced choral musician, including the ability to read music, aural skills and a sound vocal technique. Children who wish to develop these skills further have the opportunity to do so either as Cathedral Choristers or in the Loughborough Children’s Choir, set up as part of the project.
Performances by schools participating in DioSing! have included:
- Christmas Tree Festival at All Saints’ with Holy Trinity in 2012 and 2013
- ‘Little Jazz Mass’ by Bob Chilcott at Leicester Cathedral in June 2013
- Interfaith Week Concert at St Philip’s Centre in December 2013
- ‘Sing Christmas!’, broadcast live from St Martin’s House by BBC Radio Leicester in December 2013
- A CD recording of Leicestershire’s ten favourite Christmas Carols, together with Wigston Brass Band Ensemble
On 5 July 2014, children from the schools joined together for a performance of ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ at the Diocesan Assembly.
Over 2015-16, DioSing! spearheaded the King in the Car Park project, a cantata for primary schools telling the story of King Richard III in song. Picture below courtesy of Mike Sewell – Leicester Mercury.
The Cathedral is very grateful to the Col. J.D. Player Trust for a generous grant covering the costs of setting up DioSing! and providing a subsidy to participating schools for the first two years.