The Choir

Listening in, the individual vocal strength of various singers, particularly in the back rows, came as no surprise – John's have long been a powerful crew... What did take me aback, though is just how much everyone seemed to be enjoying things ... banter flowed between takes, as did all manner of ideas and opinions.

Jeremy Pound, BBC Music Magazine

The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge is one of the finest collegiate choirs in the world – known and loved by millions from its broadcasts, concert tours and over 90 recordings. Founded in the 1670s, the Choir is known for its rich, warm and distinctive sound, its expressive interpretations and its ability to sing in a variety of styles. Alongside this discipline, the Choir is particularly proud of its happy, relaxed and mutually supportive atmosphere. The Choir is currently directed by Christopher Gray, following in a long line of eminent Directors of Music, recently Dr George Guest, Dr Christopher Robinson, Dr David Hill and Andrew Nethsingha.

The Choir’s purpose

The Choir is made up of around 20 Choristers and Probationers from St John's College school, and around 15 Choral Scholars who are members of St John's College, and its primary purpose is to enhance the liturgy and worship and daily services in the College Chapel:

Choral Evensong Tuesdays to Sundays at 6.30 pm
Sung Eucharist on Sundays at 10.30 am.

Members of the public are very welcome to all of our choral services.

The Choir is known for its consistent high standards of singing each day in Chapel and brings the 'St John's Sound' to listeners around the world each week through its weekly webcasts and SJC Live, our webcast archive service. For more information or if you are interested in becoming a member of the Choir, please click to read further about ChoristersChoral Scholars and Organ Scholars.

The Choir also maintains a busy schedule of concerts and events. The Choir tours internationally several times per year, with recent destinations including the USA, the Far East and the Netherlands. Additionally, there are some special services held through the year including the Advent Carol service, Ash Wednesday Evensong and the Bach Cantata Evensongs.


The Choir’s repertoire is extremely varied, spanning over 500 years of music. It is also renowned for championing contemporary music in its commissioning of new works from established and emerging composers. A recent innovation at St John’s is the performance of a Bach cantata each term at Evensong with St John's Sinfonia, our period instrument orchestra.

Concerts and Touring

The Choir is regularly invited to perform throughout the world, touring Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, the USA and countries all over Europe – The Netherlands, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland to name a few.

In recent years the Choir has visited UK concert venues including Symphony Hall, Birmingham, St John’s, Smith Square and Royal Festival Hall, London. The Choir often joins with leading orchestras such as Britten Sinfonia, the London Mozart Players and the Philharmonia Orchestra as well as smaller instrumental groups such as His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts and the viol consort, Fretwork.

View our forthcoming events.

Broadcasts and Recording

In addition to TV appearances, two annual broadcasts on BBC Radio 3's Choral Evensong, regular appearances on Radio 4's Sunday Worship and Radio 3's In Tune, the Choir usually makes two recordings each year.

In May 2016 the College launched its new St John’s recording label (in conjunction with Signum Records) on which the Choir has released the critically acclaimed recording of Jonathan Harvey’s music, ‘Deo’. The label releases brand new recordings by the Choir of St John's and students and alumni of the College. View recent recordings and our catalogue here.

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Latest webcast

Recorded on
9 March 2024


A Meditation on the Passion of Christ is a service of music and readings reflecting on the Passion of Christ. This year the service features music by Byrd, Purcell, Weelkes and MacMillan, as well as the final piece of a triptych of works written for the choir by Joanna Marsh.

Latest news

Magnificat 4 includes two commissions written specially for the Choir of St John's College; Jonathan Dove's 2022 canticle setting St John's Service, and Judith Weir's 2011 service of the same name.

Winner of the 2008 Ivor Novello Award for classical music, Jonathan Dove CBE has composed a broad range of works and is one of the most successful British composers today. 

Jonathan was kind enough to share insights into his St John's Service, the compositional process, and what we can look forward to in the future.

The commitment, projection and natural energy of this choir have never failed to inspire me

Organists’ Review