Music features strongly in the academic programme of the College and the department has excellent facilities.
Ampleforth commitment to choral music is strong. The Schola Cantorum, the boys’ choir, was established in 1970 to help preserve the singing of music written for the Roman Catholic Church, along with the best examples from other traditions, in the context for which it was written: the celebration of Mass. Senior boy students sing choral mass either alone or with choristers from St Martin’s Ampleforth on Friday evenings. The Schola Puellarum, the girls’ choir, forms the upper voices of the Sunday Schola which sings the polyphonic repertoire at High Mass and on important feast days.
In addition, the choirs sing meditations at key moments in the Liturgical Year and are joined by professional soloists and orchestras for 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 and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. A long-standing tradition is the annual performance of Fauré’s Requiem near the Feast of All Souls.
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 when the large ensembles perform: College Symphony Orchestra, Pro Musica string ensemble, Big Band, Brass Group, and Pipe Band. Chamber groups, the student-directed Ampleforth Singers, and instrumental soloists perform at informal concerts 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 links have been established with over 30 primary schools. These initiatives have culminated in exciting productions, of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in 2008 and 2016 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 11+, 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.