In September 2021, Wakefield Cathedral launched ‘Byrd Song’, a new choir group aimed at giving children aged six to eight a taste of choir-life.
Seven-year old Oliver Powell was one of the first children to join the newly-founded choir and he is already hosting ambitions to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
Oliver, who goes to Badsworth Church of England J&I School, has always loved singing, and when the opportunity to join a newly formed “pre-choir” came about it seemed like the perfect match.
The idea of singing in such a large and historic building may seem a daunting challenge for some seven-year old’s, however Oliver’s mum - Emma - wasn’t surprised that her son was more than up for the challenge…particularly because Oliver’s brother - Rhys, aged eleven - joined the Cathedral Choir earlier this year too (both pictured).
Emma Powell, who was a former church choir member herself in her childhood, said: “I’m incredibly proud of both of my boys for stepping up to the challenge of singing at Wakefield Cathedral, it really is such a unique experience and one which I have seen Rhys flourish in over the past six months.
“When we first heard about an introductory choir being formed Oliver didn’t need any persuasion that it was right for him and he has done so well over these first two months, I can already see his confidence and understanding of singing has improved greatly. If he continues as he is now then by the time he reaches Rhys’s age he will be at a similar level to his brother and with a really good grounded understanding of cathedral music too.”
The ‘Byrd Song’ group gave their first ever live-performance to the congregation recently, a performance which was met with great warmth and applause and no doubt, a performance which will be just the start of the journey for Oliver and many other children in the choir lives.
Dr Ed Jones, Director of Music at Wakefield Cathedral added: “The world of the cathedral choir may seem like a foreign land to many children, however for those willing to have a go, to test the waters and to see whether it is right for them, they are met with some of the greatest rewards they could wish for.
“Learning new skills, making new friends and singing in amazing venues are just some of the fantastic reasons why being involved with cathedral music is such an exciting and rewarding place to be. Whether your family regularly attends the cathedral, any other church or none at all, the cathedral choir is a place for all children who love to sing to be involved with something special and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Oliver and Rhys will have a busy Christmas ahead, with the Cathedral Choir involved in a plethora of events and services over the coming weeks and Byrd Song continuing to grow from strength to strength too but it doesn’t faze the brothers in the slightest.
Oliver: “I was a bit nervous at the start but I really enjoy it now, I’m still getting used to wearing my robe but I just really like to sing and have made some new friends already.”
Rhys: “It does take quite a lot of commitment to be in the cathedral choir (which can be quite challenging given I also play football and rugby, swim and am Head Chorister in the St Margaret’s North Elmsall Choir too!), but I really do enjoy it, it’s been a great experience and I’m looking forward to the busy Christmas period ahead!”
Spaces are still available for boys and girls to join ‘Byrd Song’ (school years 2-4, meeting Saturday mornings 09:30-10:30) and the Cathedral Choir (school years 4-9), both of which are free to join with no costs associated with membership at all. To find out more about any of these opportunities please contact Dr Ed Jones on 01924 373923, email ed.jones [at] wakefield-cathedral.org.uk or visit wakefieldcathedral.org.uk.