The earliest surviving reference to a choir and an organ at Bangor Cathedral comes from the celebrated Welsh bard Dafydd ap Gwilym (c. 1315 – c. 1370) who, when writing a commendatory ode to Dean Hywel ap Goronwy said . . .whose organ, and harmonious choir, are unrivalled in performance . . . there is no one who can be compared to them.
As far as we are aware, other than probably during the Commonwealth period, there has been an unbroken tradition of choral and organ music at the Cathedral since the fourteenth century. Records from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries speak of the Scholars from the Friars School (Bangor’s Grammar school founded in 1557) wearing surplices and being paid £2 annually for attending the Cathedral. In 1691 it was stipulated that the Scholars who sang at the Cathedral now be called Singing Boys and paid from Cathedral funds. Singing Men were, in 1691, paid an annual stipend of £6 rising to £8 by 1698.
These days the Cathedral Choir consists of three distinct, yet collaborating elements; a Boys’ Choir, a Girls’ Choir (established in 2012 by its founding director, Paul Booth) and a back row of Countertenors, Tenors & Basses. The trebles are drawn from a number of schools throughout the city whilst the lower voices are auditioned as Choral Scholars from the University of Bangor and supported by a small number of established Lay Clerks.
The choir is directed on this recording by Paul Booth who has served as the Cathedral‘s Director of Music since 2014.