Music is at the heart of Ampleforth, above all in the Abbey Church, but also all around the campus and beyond. Over the years an ever-widening diversity of instrumental and choral music has developed, and more recently that experience has been shared with children and adults beyond the valley.
Music features strongly in the academic programme of the College and the department has excellent facilities, including a dedicated computer suite and recording studio.
Ampleforth’s commitment to choral music is strong and the liturgy is supported by three separate choirs: the boys of the Schola Cantorum, the girls’ Schola Puellarum and the junior girls of St Martin’s Ampleforth in the Schola Sancti Martini. These groups share the singing of Mass and other offices in the Abbey. In addition, the choirs sing meditations at key moments in the Liturgical Year and join together with professional soloists and orchestras for the big oratorios. In recent years there have been annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, as well as Haydn’s The Creation, Bach’s St Matthew and St John Passions, Mozart Requiem, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and Bach's St Matthew Passion. A long-standing tradition is the performance of Fauré’s Requiem every year around the Feast of All Souls. There is usually an annual tour abroad undertaken by one of the choirs, the most recent ones being to Prague and Malta.
There is a similarly important programme of instrumental music, of which the St Cecilia Concert in November and the Exhibition Concert in May are the main showcases and when the large ensembles play: College Symphony Orchestra, Pro Musica string ensemble, Big Band, Brass Group, and Pipe Band. Chamber groups, the student-directed Ampleforth Singers, the Barber Shop Quartet and instrumental soloists perform at informal concerts on Sunday mornings and on other occasions in the Main Hall, as well as in various local venues. The Ampleforth Highlanders’ Pipe Band which wears the tartan Murray of Atholl performs regularly at school events and has had considerable success in national Piping and Drumming competitions.
Musical outreach has developed significantly in the last ten years and we have established links with over 30 primary schools. From this has grown the Ampleforth Community Children’s Choir, now in its ninth year, which offers singing experience to children from ages 4 -11 and beyond. These initiatives have culminated in two exciting productions, of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in 2008 and Krasa’s Brundibar in 2010; each involved over 300 primary school children alongside Ampleforth students and professional musicians.
Music Scholarships are offered for entry at ages 13+ and 16+ and honorary awards are conferred upon those students in the school who show exceptional diligence combined with support for extra musical activity.