The Schola Cantorum of Ampleforth Abbey was established by Cardinal Basil Hume (formerly the Abbot of Ampleforth) and by David Bowman (the choir's first Conductor) to help preserve in England 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, namely the celebration of Mass.

The aim of the schola is to give young, musical students the opportunity to participate in the living tradition of plainchant and polyphony in a liturgical context.

All singers are auditioned to discover their potential and on admittance to the choir receive training in rudiments and vocal development, enabling them to sing alongside senior students from the college. Although the full choir has fewer duties than a traditional cathedral choir, it nevertheless sings similarly challenging and artistically high quality music at mass and on other occasions. The repertoire spans 900 years to include plainsong as well as music from the Golden Age – Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd – through the classical period – Haydn, Mozart, Schubert – to masters of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries including commissions written specially for the choir.

Rehearsals take place in the mornings before school and the boys join the senior choir to sing at the Choral Mass every Friday at 8.00pm in the Abbey Church.  Members of the public are always welcome to attend these Services.