Choristers at Arundel Cathedral will be the first in the UK to receive a new examination award from The Guild of Church Musicians.
The guild encourages musicians of all denominations to work towards the highest standards of music in worship and recently introduced the Archbishops’ Chorister Medal to add to the examinations it already offered.
The concept of this new medal was proposed and developed by Elizabeth Stratford, one of the first girl choristers in the country nearly 30 years ago and now organist and master of the choristers at Arundel Cathedral.
Dame Mary Archer, guild president, will present medals and certificates to the successful choristers, aged 10 to 14, during a special ceremony in the cathedral on Saturday, February 1.
Elizabeth said: “It is hoped this examination syllabus will appeal to other choir trainers with young singers as it is suited to those of all religious denominations in schools and churches.
“The aim of the Archbishops’ Chorister Medal is not only to develop practical skills in performance but also to encourage attentive listening and reflection on the role of music in worship.
“It differs from other examinations because it is not solely a performance assessment but instead seeks to test skills which are central to a chorister’s development and evolution as a musician.”
Before the presentation, Dame Mary will lead a discussion on church music and how it may develop in the future.
She explained: “Church music is at an important crossroads. More and more churches are finding it difficult to get someone to play the organ at services, yet there is a greater interest in church music than ever before.
“Attendance at our cathedrals and major parish churches, with their splendid music, is at an all-time high, yet disputes about church music are on the increase.
“On February 1 at Arundel Cathedral, we shall explore some of the reasons for this and discuss the impact of new styles of music on worship.”
The afternoon will begin with an organ recital by Robert Sholl at 1pm and the presentations, including honorary membership of the guild to organ builder David Wells, will take place at 3.30pm.
Elizabeth said: “All are welcome and encouraged to attend this historic event.”