MAHLER CYCLE 2011
Boys of the Eton College Chapel Choir
Ralph Allwood Musical Director
Eton College is an all-boys boarding school founded in 1440 by King Henry VI in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the same time he founded its sister college, King's College in Cambridge, and gave each its chapel in magnificent Perpendicular style. The Foundation of Eton College provided ten men and 16 boys to sing the services and, with few breaks, the choir has been singing in Eton College Chapel from then until the present day. The school now has over 1,300 pupils accommodated in 25 boarding houses. The choir now has 54 members, all boys in the school, about a third of whom were choristers at cathedrals or chapels before they came to Eton.
The choral tradition is maintained by the regular singing of evensongs and school services throughout the term time. Music Scholarships are offered annually to enable talented boys to continue their secondary education at Eton and many Music Scholars are members of the choir. The choir makes annual concert tours, most recently to Poland, Japan, South Africa and America. They have recorded music from the Eton Choirbook, 20th-century church anthems, music by Eton composers such as Arne and Parry, and most recently the Langlais Messe solennelle and other French choral music.
Eton College Chapel Choir is directed by Ralph Allwood, who has been Precentor and Director of Music at Eton College since 1985. When Director of Music at Uppingham, he founded the annual choral courses for prospective choral scholars aged between 16 and 20. Now known as the Eton Choral Courses, they celebrated their 100th course and 30th anniversary in 2010. There are now seven courses each year, some held at Eton, others at different schools, cathedrals or Oxford and Cambridge colleges.