The Friends of the Music of Leeds Minster
Registered Charity No 1055944
The Friends have been committed to supporting the choral foundation and music at the Minster and Parish Church of St Peter Leeds since 1951.
Leeds Parish Church was dedicated as Minster at a special service of celebration held on 2 September 2012, the anniversary of the consecration in 1841 of the present building.
‘The Friends of the Music’ was the first organisation formed specifically to underpin the resource involved in such a choral foundation; the Leeds group pre-dates the formation of ‘The Friends of Cathedral Music’ by five years.
Choral music on weekdays, as well as Sundays, was a pre-requisite of the most famous of the Victorian Vicars of Leeds, Dr W F Hook (Vicar of Leeds from 1837 to 1859). The Choir of boys and men, probably founded as early as 1815, was re-established and renewed by Dr Hook and maintained by his successors.
Today’s singers are drawn from schools all over Leeds, with many coming from the Minster’s own Parochial School, St Peter’s Church of England Primary, established exactly 200 years ago in 1812 and still flourishing as one of the best-loved and best-supported of Leeds’ inner city schools. The adult singers are either students in full time education, or volunteers (a good number of whom are former choristers). A girls’ choir, founded in 1997, sings weekly as a separate unit and termly with the full foundation. St Peter’s Singers, a group enjoying a wide reputation, was established in 1977 and contributes much to the music of the Minster, not least being a well-supported choral and orchestral event each Good Friday evening and the Midnight Eucharist of Christmas, along with other major minster occasions.
Although without the advantages of a residential choir school, the Choir of Leeds Minster still strives to provide worship at the heart of a great city and the members of the Friends of the Music are integral to this endeavour. In recent years the Friends organised an appeal for the choral foundation, raising almost £500,000 – providing income to plug the gap between the very generous annual contributions of individual friends, trusts and businesses and the actual costs of running the choir and music.
The fine organ at Leeds was comprehensively restored in 1997. There are weekly lunchtime recitals on Fridays and on August Sunday evenings. Each Summer a Battle of the Organs draws a large audience. Admission to organ events is free as part of the Minster’s community access programme; retiring collections defray the annual cost of maintaining the instrument for future generations.
A Festival Evensong takes place during Autumn on a Sunday afternoon. The 2012 Festival is this Sunday 14 October at 3pm when the Address will be given by Mr Philip Moore, Organist Emeritus of York Minster. In December each year, the Friends also promote an annual Carols for a Choral Future event with combined choirs and the Rothwell Temperance Band.
Further details from the Friends’ Membership Secretary, Mrs Vicky Highet, on firstname.lastname@example.org