Choirboys brush off coronavirus outbreak to film traditional Carols From King’s show


Far away in a manger! Socially distanced choirboys brush off coronavirus outbreak to film traditional Carols From King’s show

  • 14 adult choral scholars usually join 16 boys but two tested positive for Covid-19 
  • Some of lower voice section of the choir then had to go into voluntary isolation
  • Two of The King’s Singers were asked to step in at 48 hours’ notice 

The world-famous Carols from King’s service was saved at the last minute after The Kings Singers stepped in when two Choral Scholars tested positive for coronavirus.

Fourteen adult Choral Scholars usually join the 16 boy choristers to sing at the historic service, which has been televised by the BBC for more than 60 years.

But two Choral Scholars from the same household tested positive for coronavirus last week, meaning some of the lower voice section of the choir had to go into voluntary isolation – putting the service in jeopardy.

Thankfully, the six members of The Kings Singers – a group founded just over 50 years ago by members of King’s College Choir – came to the rescue with just 48-hours-notice and the BBC recording was able to go ahead as planned.

Fourteen adult Choral Scholars usually join the 16 boy choristers to sing at the historic service, which has been televised by the BBC for more than 60 years

A spokesman at King’s College said today: ‘Plans for the filming had to be changed at short notice after two choral scholars (adult members) of the Choir of King’s College, within the same household, tested positive for Covid-19.

‘The King’s Singers were asked to step in at 48 hours’ notice, joining the young choristers from the Choir. The two groups, which stood a safe distance apart, sang with each other for the first time only minutes before filming began.

‘The two choral scholars with positive test results have suffered only mild symptoms and, together with the choral scholars who are in precautionary self-isolation, have received welfare and pastoral support from King’s College.’

Revd Dr Stephen Cherry, Dean of King’s College, said they were very grateful for the King’s Singers stepping in.

‘We are all hugely grateful to The King’s Singers for stepping up at the last minute. They have shown tremendous goodwill and consummate professionalism. 

But two Choral Scholars from the same household tested positive for coronavirus last week, meaning some of the lower voice section of the choir had to go into voluntary isolation - putting the service in jeopardy

But two Choral Scholars from the same household tested positive for coronavirus last week, meaning some of the lower voice section of the choir had to go into voluntary isolation – putting the service in jeopardy

‘Our young choristers also responded very positively and with real maturity to the several challenges faced in reimagining the programme, and together they have enabled us to offer a wonderful Christmas service at extraordinarily short notice.

‘King’s College Choir has been preparing for our Christmas broadcasts for months while following strict safety protocols, so it was particularly disappointing that the choral scholars couldn’t be with us for the filming. To have had one of the households hit by the virus at the last moment was incredibly unfortunate.

‘In a year when so many will be spending Christmas in a way unlike any other in living memory, we were determined to do whatever we could to offer a meaningful and beautiful Christmas service. We’re delighted with the result of the remarkable efforts of so many people at King’s and at the BBC, and we look forward to sharing Carols from King’s with viewers across the country.’

Alan Holland, Executive Producer, BBC, added: ‘Carols from King’s is a cornerstone of the BBC’s Christmas programming and we are delighted that The King’s Singers were able to join us.

Thankfully, the six members of The Kings Singers - a group founded just over 50 years ago by members of King's College Choir - came to the rescue with just 48-hours-notice and the BBC recording was able to go ahead as planned

Thankfully, the six members of The Kings Singers – a group founded just over 50 years ago by members of King’s College Choir – came to the rescue with just 48-hours-notice and the BBC recording was able to go ahead as planned

Revd Dr Stephen Cherry, Dean of King's College, said they were very grateful for the King's Singers stepping in

Revd Dr Stephen Cherry, Dean of King’s College, said they were very grateful for the King’s Singers stepping in

‘That significant changes were successfully made at such short notice is testament to the dedication and determination of the musicians and the teams at King’s College and the BBC.’

The carol service, which was recorded last week, also had no congregation this year for the first time in its history, due to restrictions brought in by the coronavirus pandemic. It is usually attended by members of the college and is by invitation only.

Carols from Kings was first broadcast in 1954 and in 2014 celebrated its 60th anniversary.

It is separate from A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is a service that takes place on Christmas Eve and which is broadcast live on radio around the world.

Carols from Kings will be broadcast around the world on BBC2 at 5.30pm on Christmas Eve. An order of service will be available to download from King’s College from Friday 18 December for those wishing to follow it alongside the broadcast.

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