Cathedral Choir School

Enrollment is open for the 2024-25 season!

To learn more, please e-mail Canon Director of Music Stephen Buzard.

About the Choir School

The St. James Cathedral Choir School offers a free, world-class music education to children in 3rd through 10th grade. In addition to weekly rehearsals, each chorister receives a one-on-one weekly voice lesson and a 50% scholarship toward instrumental lessons offered by the Music Institute of Chicago at St. James. The Choir School is open to families of all faith backgrounds, and we provide a free supper for the whole family after weekly rehearsals. This unique educational experience empowers choristers with musicianship, confidence, and leadership skills to last a lifetime!

Young singers have been making music in cathedrals for centuries. The choristers lead the music at one of our Sunday morning services and for Wednesday Evensong each week. The choristers tour, perform in the community, and sing special services with the St. James Cathedral Choir, one of the finest liturgical ensembles in the city. In 2023-24, the choristers attended choir camp in North Carolina, performed with world-renowned British ensemble VOCES8, gave a concert at the Driehaus Museum, and toured to sing at Washington National Cathedral.

The choristers and their families are a tight-knit community who support one another, volunteer together, and love to have fun. Each chorister receives a modest stipend for their singing which increases as they gain experience.

How is the Choir School different than a children's choir?

Most children's choirs teach children to sing by rote. They typically memorize a song to sing in church once a month. In a chorister program like our Choir School, we teach children to be independent musicians, singing serious classical music at a professional level. The choristers perform at least twice a week in services and learn over 100 anthems, hymns, and other musical pieces each year. As a result, they learn how to read music fluently and develop confidence that carries into all facets of their lives.

 Regular Schedule

The choristers rehearse every Wednesday afternoon and sing for one of the Sunday services, following the school calendar. On Wednesdays, choristers arrive after school for homework time, music lessons, and other activities. Rehearsals begin at 4:30 p.m. and conclude with a brief service of Evensong at 5:45 p.m. Supper follows for choristers and their families. Additionally, each chorister receives a weekly private voice lesson to hone their vocal technique and musical skills.

The Music Institute of Chicago

Choristers are eligible to receive scholarships for instrumental lessons taught by the Music Institute of Chicago at St. James Cathedral. The Music Institute leads people toward a lifelong engagement with music through unparalleled teaching, exceptional performances, and valuable service initiatives that educate, inspire, and build strong communities. The Music Institute welcomes more than 1500 students of all ages, levels of experience, or financial means, across eight campus locations, including Chicago. In addition, the Music Institute (pre-pandemic), welcomes thousands of visitors annually for performances, master classes, and special events at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.

The Royal School of Church Music

The St. James Choir School is affiliated with the Royal School of Church Music, which promotes excellence in church music across the globe through its graduated standards, courses, and educational materials.