Westminster Cathedral Announces Martin Baker’s Resignation
  • BrophyBoy
    Posts: 41
    Westminster Cathedral Master of Music

    Yesterday it was announced:
    It is with regret that we announce the resignation of Martin Baker as Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral with effect from 31 December 2019. We take the opportunity to thank him for his dedication and service over the past two decades and wish him the very best in his future career.

    Today the Diocese will start to address these new circumstances created by Mr Baker’s resignation. A further announcement will be made in the coming weeks.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,868
    A casualty of the strife over the changes at the school, may one wonder?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,103
    I don't know if speculation on other people's employment is helpful. People do all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons.

    It does seem that it will be difficult to maintain the choir's distinctive sound, which is strongly male, even in the treble range, under the new system. There are just fewer boys to choose from as a local, 5 day choir.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 352
    Of course it's strongly male. It's a MEN AND BOYS CHOIR and should remain so. It will NOT be difficult to maintain and continue if operated correctly. "Even in the treble range" to me hints of a desire to introduce girls into the treble section which would destroy this choir. This line has been used with many other all male choirs in order to destroy their uniqueness. I have seen this happen and said just this way. WHY CAN'T ALL FEMALE CHOIRS BE ESTABLISHED AND LEAVE MEN AND BOY CHOIRS ALONE? ARE THEY A TREAT? It causes me enormously great offense and anger as feminist all over the world have sought out to change historical traditional choirs like this especially in cathedrals.

    Finally, there are NOT fewer boys to choose from! This is a false statement and a lie at worst or ignorance at best (NOT TO MENTION STRIKES AT BEING LAZY TO DO DUE DILIGENCE AT ONE'S WORK AND TO BE GENUINELY SUPPORTIVE). One by one I have seen the great all male choirs destroyed for various reasons and all based on modernistic feminism and new age systems of pseudo inclusion and supposed new perspectives of Christianity based on intentionally wrongful and demonic infiltration and attacks on the foundations, theology and long held traditions of the Church. Can you tell that this hit home to me? ABSOLUTELY IT DOES! My blood is just boiling over this!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,103
    Ken, you completely misunderstand me.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 352
    If I do, my sincere apologies. The subject is very painful and extremely hurtful to me having been in 3 separate men and boy choirs that were destroyed by uber liberal clergy and others hell bent on pushing their ideology. Again, if I misunderstood you, my apologies. My temper was kindled after reading that article.
    Thanked by 2Kathy cesarfranck
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,103
    No worries.

    This particular choir has a tradition of strong male singing, even in the treble range, unlike many other boy choirs. You can hear it in very old recordings, and it has come to be part of this choir's distinctive, and I think exemplary, sound.

    In order to keep that sound, I believe the choir has been very selective regarding recruitment. That is much more difficult when the target area is circumscribed.

    I personally think that the boarding school was worth preserving for these reasons.

  • I am not absolutely certain, but I believe that the Westminster choir follows the European tradition of having boys not only on the treble but also the alto line. All other English choirs have boys in the treble and male altos or countertenors in the alto register. These differing arrangements make for noticeably different tonal results in the respective choirs.

    I noticed some years ago that the Westminster choir seemed not to have the brilliance in the inner voices that other English choirs had. Careful listening revealed that boys, not men, were singing the alto line.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,192
    From the Westminster Cathedral website:
    Comprising up to 20 boy trebles and altos aged 8-13 and ten professional Lay Clerks, the Choir remains the only Catholic Cathedral choir in the world to sing daily Mass and Vespers, whilst also performing concerts at home and abroad.
    This confirms what MJO and I thought was the case with respect to boy altos.
  • PaxMelodious
    Posts: 304
    What kind of parent would send an eight year old child to boarding school 7 days a week? Five would be bad enough - but seven?
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 224
    What kind of parent would send an eight year old child to boarding school 7 days a week? Five would be bad enough - but seven?


    One who recognizes a gift and a love for music in their child, and sees he wishes to have the opportunity to explore it to the fullest, while receiving an excellent education.

    At 8, I was playing the piano or organ 3 hours a day, and would have dearly loved to have been packed away to choir school.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,622
    Somewhat troubling to see that although the full choir was supposed to resume on 5th January, no music lists have appeared on the usual website.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,192
    Well, Baker's tenure ended on 31st December 2019, and he was likely the one who selected the music.
  • Pax,

    Boarding schools aren't just for the five days of the school week. Choir schools (take St. John's, Cambridge, or Kings' Cambridge as obvious examples) have fewer vacation days than other boarding schools.
  • ...kind of parent would...
    HUMPH!!! What kind of parents WOULDN'T send their son to a choir boarding school which boards seven days a week if he had the gift and the desire??? Such a beautiful education is beyond priceless, and there could be no greater or more loving gift from one's parents.

    Every-day life at both St Thomas', 5th Avenue, and King's College, Cambridge, can be viewed on youtube. The experiences of these fortunate lads is priceless. What a blessing to have such parents and such schools.
  • What kind of parent would send an eight year old child to boarding school 7 days a week? Five would be bad enough - but seven?


    My parents. I thank them every day that I had that kind of intensive musical education at the highest professional level. I would not, in any way, be the musician I am today without it, and I loved every minute of it. Would that more children could have the immense privilege of this kind of musical education.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,590
    They are holding a review, https://rcdow.org.uk/news/strategic-review-of-sacred-music-in-the-mission-of-westminster-cathedral/?fbclid=IwAR1RakhVEhrpmlyrmAPer9nHxvXXIXav7MVb5Fv8oNFgYZxAwtiaSbbhyc0

    I notice that the choirs are still singing but the music list is no longer published on the website.