St Michael's Choir
Director of Music and Organist - Jan Cunningham 020 8992 4119
St Michael's has a robed choir with 31 regular members - 3 basses, 3 tenors, 3 altos, 8 sopranos and 14 trebles, both girls and boys, 2 of whom sing alto (Spring 2007). Most Sundays there are 20-24 singers for the 10 o'clock choral eucharist, and during university holidays and at festivals it can call on half a dozen former head choristers to swell the ranks. The choir is trained by organist and Director of Music Jan Cunningham, a professional musician who also accompanies the local choral society the Chiswick Choir. The choir is affiliated to the RSCM and the children work for their ribbon tests - there are currently 3 bishop's choristers and 4 dean's choristers in the ranks.
The choir is ambitious in its repertoire. It uses 5 different settings for the Communion services and sings an anthem each week, ranging from Orlando Gibbons to stalwarts like Wesley and Stanford, and it also learns numbers from the great choral works and others by modern composers. Solos are sung by members of the choir from all voices. Anthems may be sung unaccompanied or with the piano but most are dependent on organ accompaniment. The music is carefully chosen to match and illuminate the themes of the liturgical calendar. Highlights of the year are the church festivals; there is a full programme of sung services in Holy Week, including Good Friday, at Easter, and at Christmas, when there is the annual Carol Service. There are two or three sung evensongs a year, the choir also sings for weddings and funerals, and it goes carol singing round the parish before Christmas to raise money for a children's charity.
The choir is very important in the life of the church and is one of the key ways in which young people are encouraged to join in with and contribute to services, which also encourages them to carry on coming to church during their teens when many otherwise drop out. They also learn to sing and to sight-read, and to appreciate classical choral music. Children can join from 7, and many graduate to the choir from Sunday school when they are old enough. The age range of the choir spans over 50 years and it is a remarkably democratic group in which everyone has an equally important and professional role to play in the musical life of the church.