The Choir of Westminster Abbey is renowned worldwide as one of the finest choirs of its type. Comprising some 30 boys (all of whom attend the Abbey's dedicated residential Choir School) and 12 professional adult singers (known as Lay Vicars), the Choir plays a central role both in the daily choral services in the Abbey and in the many royal, state and national occasions which take place there. Notable recent events have included services to mark the Centenary of the Outbreak of the First World War and to celebrate the life and work of Nelson Mandela, both of which were televised nationally, and the Wedding of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011, which was seen by a worldwide television audience of over two billion people.
In addition to fulfilling its responsibilities in Westminster, the Choir undertakes an extensive programme of broadcasts, recordings, concerts and tours, travelling in recent years to Australia, the Far East, the United States, Russia, Hungary and Spain. In June 2012 the Choir was invited by Pope Benedict to sing with the Sistine Chapel Choir at the Papal Mass for the Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul in St Peter's Basilica, Rome, and autumn 2014 saw another major tour of the USA, including performances in Washington DC, Dallas and New York. Closer to home, the Choir gives regular concerts in the Abbey and has appeared at many major festivals including the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music and the BBC Proms.
The Choir of Westminster Abbey’s celebrated series of recordings for Hyperion includes the complete Great Service by William Byrd, choral works by Edward Elgar, and the critically acclaimed Mary and Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey, chosen by Gramophone as a Critics' Choice and hailed as 'a showcase for English choral singing at its most charismatic'. The latest addition to the catalogue, Music for Remembrance, is a programme of memorial music composed in England and France in the shadow of two World Wars, the centrepiece of which is Duruflé’s Requiem with Britten Sinfonia and soloists Christine Rice and Roderick Williams.
The Choir of Westminster Abbey is directed by James O'Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers.