The Choir of St Mary’s Collegiate Church, Warwick

Choir of St Mary's Collegiate Church, WarwickThe first evidence of a choir at St Mary’s Church dates from 1123, when the Earl of Warwick established the Collegiate Church and in doing so provided for six boy choristers and six ‘vicars choral’. This remained the situation until 1544, when King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the college. Although he had destroyed the choir-school, King Henry founded what is now the Warwick School, which then provided choristers at the church until well into the 17th century.

Today’s choir comprises twenty-one boys and sixteen men. The boys are drawn from a variety of local schools, and some travel to sing at St Mary’s from as far afield as Coventry (ten miles north of Warwick) and Stratford-upon-Avon (ten miles south of Warwick). The choir sings two choral services in St Mary’s Church on Sundays, and the gentlemen also sing Evensong each Friday. There are additional services such as weddings, funerals, major church festivals and civic services throughout the year, and the choir also gives a concert towards the end of each school term.

The choir regularly engages in residencies at cathedrals and major churches around the United Kingdom, including Westminster Abbey in 2001 and Winchester Cathedral in 2002, and it also undertakes tours abroad. Recent visits have included Hungary in July 2004, the Netherlands in July 2005, and plans are under way for a tour to the Czech Republic in 2006 for the Girls’ Choir and the gentlemen of St Mary’s Choir.

St Mary’s Choir was directed by Katherine Dienes until 2008, when she moved to Guildford to become the first female director of music in an English cathedral.

For further information, see www.stmaryswarwick.org.uk.