Small Steps, Giant Leaps

A lunchtime recital of music under the moon

Some talented musicians of King’s Rochester gave a lunchtime recital of music ‘under the moon’ in Rochester Cathedral on the 25th February 2020.

The programme included arranged works by Bellini – Vaga Luna (voice), Fauré – Claire de Lune  (violin), Giordani – Caro Mio Ben (voice), Saint-Saëns – Swan from Carnival of the Animals (‘cello), Debussy – Claire de Lune (flute), Brahms – Wiegenlied (voice) and Dvorak – Romantische Stücke No.1 (violin). The performers ranged in age and were excellent in all respects – it was pleasing to note that three were wearing the RCOCA lapel badge.

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The Museum of the Moon, a touring artwork by the British artist Luke Jerram, was exhibited in the Nave of the Cathedral from the 12th February to the 4th March 2020.
It measures seven metres in diameter and is based upon 120 dpi high definition NASA satellite photography.

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The moon measures seven meters in diameter. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimeter of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface. The work was first exhibited in Kendal in 2016 and has since been shown in many locations within the United Kingdom and abroad. It appeared on Strictly Come Dancing at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom on the 18th November 2019.

Request for new Secretary

Our Secretary, Tom Gough has stood down from the position with immediate effect, for personal reasons and a successor is required as soon as possible.

If we do not obtain volunteers to fill this important role, then obviously our 110 year old Association will not be able to function.

If you are able to undertake the positions, please contact the Chairman as a matter of urgency – your help will be very much appreciated.

Please do read up on the RCOCA Secretary role.

Reflecting on the October 2019 Evensong, AGM and Dinner

Members attended Evensong in the Cathedral on Saturday 12th October 2019 which was sung by both choirs. The new Director of Music and Organist, Francesca Massey, could not have chosen a better anthem for the old choristers – Hubert Parry’s I was Glad. Following the service, the Annual General Meeting took place in the Ithamar Chapel in the crypt.

That evening, the 110th annual dinner was held in the King’s School Conference Centre. Guests were Benjamin Charles and Tom Morgan, the new Principal of King’s School and the Preparatory School respectively.
The menu was:
Pea and Yorkshire fettle croquettes
Rib-eye beef with roasted cauliflower, baton carrots and leaks mornay
Summer Pudding
Welsh rarebit with chives

Despite the disappointingly low number present, the evening was much enjoyed by all and finished with the usual rounds, sang with gusto.

Webcast Appeal

The Association launched an appeal in 2017 via our Choir Trust, which is a registered charity, to raise funds to assist with the finance the installation of recording equipment in the Quire and the Nave of Rochester Cathedral to enable choral services to be broadcast on the Internet. We are liaising with the Dean and Chapter in accordance with their five year strategic plan. The Committee has therefore agreed to continue with our fundraising efforts and will support the Cathedral financially in respect of improving the sound system capabilities when requested to do so. A fund has been set up at STEWARDSHIP and you can contribute online by credit or debit card either for a one off gift or several small pledge payments. You can access the STEWARDSHIP website at . STEWARDSHIP will reclaim 25% in Gift Aid for us (less a small administration fee). Alternatively, cheques are always welcome and should be in favour of Rochester Cathedral Old Choristers’ Association and marked on the reverse ‘Appeal’ and should be sent to the Secretary. Further donations will be gratefully received.

Rochester Cathedral Celebrates Success in BBC Chorister of the Year

Congratulations to current Cathedral Deputy Head Chorister Edward Hyde and former Cathedral Head Chorister Rupert Walker on reaching the final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year Competition.

This is a National Competition with Choristers being auditioned from the length and breadth of the Country. Only four boys are selected for the final and it is therefore a wonderful achievement that 50% of those were from King’s Rochester (the other two finalists were from Canterbury Cathedral).

The competition was won by Edward Hyde at the final held in Manchester Cathedral on October 24th 2016.


12th Edition of Choristers of Rochester Cathedral

I’m pleased to present (after some hard and diligent work by one of our old choristers – James Strike) the 12th edition of Choristers of Rochester Cathedral. This book contains the names and dates of all Choristers from 1679 to 2015 as well as some interesting information about cathedral music in Rochester over the years. The book has also been updated to include all Girl Choristers.

This professionally printed and published book can be purchased via me for £5 (plus postage if you’d like it posted).

Drop a line on our contact us page if you’d like one.

Tom Richley


Reflecting on the June 2016 Evensong

There’s something timeless about Cathedral evensong.

Whatever madness is going on in the outside world, calmness reigns within the cathedral as it resonates with the glorious music that permeates evensong.

Last Saturday (the day after the Referendum result) eight RCOCA members joined the choir for the day. We met for a splendid lunch in the Conference Centre in the grounds of St Margaret’s House (with the Paddock looking magnificent) and then proceeded to the cathedral for a very short practice (just enough time to go through everything once) before evensong itself. Just like being a new chorister really: stand next to someone who knows it, concentrate like mad and hope for the best. And the best it was: lovely Tomkins responses (responding to the beautiful singing of the Organist!), 15 verses of Psalm 119 (with some challenging pointing), the magnificent Brewer in D Mag and Nunc and the beautiful Elgar anthem The Spirit of the Lord. All topped, tailed and accompanied by
some excellent organ playing.

A thoroughly enjoyable day – not just for the joy of making beautiful music with like-minded colleagues, but also for all memories that came flooding back.

David Holloway
Chorister 1955 – 1957

Old Chorister Christopher Gabbitas on singing with the King’s Singers at Rochester Cathedral

Since joining The King’s Singers in 2004 I’ve been fortunate to sing in many of the world’s great music venues, but the concerts that remain with me are always those where there is aChristopher Gabbitas clear personal connection. Whether it’s family ties (my wife is from Kentucky so anything in that state is always special) or a particularly favourite venue (The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam takes some beating) some places rise above the every-day performance.

I sang as a chorister in Rochester Cathedral from 1987-1992, under the direction of Barry Ferguson, but haven’t sung in the Cathedral for nearly 20 years. The chance to return with The King’s Singers and perform in the building where, for me, it all began, is something I’ve hoped for ever since I started in the group. Rochester has nurtured some amazing musicians over the centuries, since the choir school taught its first chorister back in 604 AD.

It’s always good to close the circle, and returning this year in the company of so many distinguished fellow choristers from across the UK will be a wonderful way to return. Every member of The King’s Singers trained as a chorister in a cathedral or school choir, and we owe our success to the incredible foundation that the English Choral Tradition gives to the boys and girls who sing in our world-class choirs, across the country. Performing a concert for other old choristers seems appropriate!

Christopher and the rest of the King’s Singers are performing on Friday, September 26th as part of the FCOCA weekend at Rochester.

Evensong with the RCOCA, Girl Choristers and Lay Clerks

On the afternoon of July 19th, old choristers were once again welcomed to sing along with the Cathedral Choir.  On what was a particularly hot day, walking into the calm coolness of the Cathedral for the Evensong rehearsal brought back many fond, and for some distant, memories.

Claire Innes-Hopkins who was recently appointed as Assistant Director of Music conducted us and our dusty voices were quickly brushed off with the efficient rehearsal.Music list

We sung Stanford in C and Parry I was glad, both of which were great to sing again, and the girl choristers sounded truly wonderful.

Scott Farrell, Director of Music, certainly demonstrated the mighty Manders organ, and I must admit for me personally, it was a joy to sing with such a fine instrument so brought to life. The last time I heard the intro to I was glad I was rather nervous at my own wedding only 11 months ago!

Thank you also to the Old Choristers who came to listen and support.

Chairman, Chris Royall reflects:

For me the day was a trip down memory lane, beginning with a meeting in Garth house which was part of the music dept back in the sixties when I attended Kings.
Lunch on a baking hot day was in the Castle Club scene of many old choristers’ dinners and hosted by our oldest old chorister John Bradley who, when I said I was going to Cromer to visit my old choirmaster from St Stephens Chatham, Keith Miller, told me that they were exact contemporaries at school in the 1930s!
After a delicious a lunch we rehearsed in the slightly cooler cathedral where I found myself assuming the role of alto lay clerk again to help out Toby. I had sung as a lay clerk in 1969-70 before going to St. John’s Cambridge.
Old and present choristers mingled with lay clerks and organists to plan future events and we concluded that the day had been such an enjoyable experience it must be repeated next year.



The next time we meet will be the National Federation of Old Choristers weekend which we hope many Rochester old choristers will try and attend. Places are filling up quickly, so please do book now to avoid disappointment.

Thanks to Tim Royall for some of the photos. If any other old choristers would like to contribute their experience of the day, then do please email in.