Our Story


How we began

In 1956 an organisation named Friends of Cathedral Music was launched. Its remit was to support the provision of music in cathedrals but later also in larger-sized parish churches with choirs. Partly because choirs had either been relocated (particularly the treble lines) during WWII or because the back rows (the altos, tenors and basses) had been called away for war service and had either not returned or not been replaced, choral music in churches and cathedrals across the country was in a general state of decline. Many enthusiasts joined the founder, the Revd Ronald Sibthorp, precentor at Truro Cathedral, in support of his aim, to improve the quality of the music in cathedrals.


Rev Ronald Sibthorp

The Revd Ronald Sibthorp



Over the years, grants worth over £4m from money raised from subscriptions and legacies were given out to cash-strapped music foundations. The Friends of Cathedral Music began to meet regularly across the UK and sometimes abroad to celebrate and enjoy the outstanding beauty of one of the nation’s greatest treasures, cathedral music. 

A magazine, Cathedral Music, was launched to present in-depth articles exploring the repertoire and practice of music making in choral foundations and our newsletter Cathedral Voice became a vehicle to share news and views from the world of cathedral music.

In 2016 the Diamond Fund for Choristers was launched with a major concert at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, featuring young singers drawn from 62 cathedrals across the UK.  As well as raising money to support recruitment and training of choristers, the Diamond Fund seeks to highlight the opportunities and benefits of being a chorister to children of all backgrounds, and how this formative educational experience benefits society more widely. This has more recently been absorbed into the main work of the Trust.

Responding to a crisis

The pandemic in 2020-21 was a body blow for the economy worldwide, and of course also affected every musician. Through the cancellation of all forthcoming cultural events not only did cathedral musicians not earn their regular freelance fees, but income for cathedrals decreased so radically that the future of our cathedral choirs was in many places in severe peril of extinction. Cathedral musicians were at risk of losing their entire livelihoods if insufficient support was not provided.

Friends of Cathedral Music joined forces with The Ouseley Church Music Trust and the Choir Schools’ Association to set up The Cathedral Choirs' Emergency Fund, all of which pledged a substantial sum to start the fundraising ball rolling. Liaising with the Church Commissioners brought the promise of match-funding of up to £1m, and donations, flooding in through various portals, raised an incredible total to keep cathedrals singing.

A new charity

Friends of Cathedral Music embraced the challenging situation presented by the global pandemic by broadening its potential impact, streamlining its organisation and founding a new umbrella charity, the Cathedral Music Trust – becoming a charitable incorporated organisation in 2020. 

Building on the work of the Friends, the Trust’s aims are to increase public awareness and appreciation of cathedral music, support and encourage all those involved in making cathedral music, and extend its range of grants to individuals, choirs and choral foundations. It is especially committed to enabling children from a diverse range of backgrounds to experience the many benefits that come from being a chorister.

Our Royal Patron

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester has a long-held commitment to the opportunities music provides for young people. As former Patron of The Diamond Fund for Choristers, we were pleased to welcome Her Royal Highness as Royal Patron of the Trust in 2021.


Our president & ambassadors

Harry Christophers CBE, founder and conductor of The Sixteen is our President. Alexander Armstrong – actor, comedian and presenter – and Anna Lapwood - organist, conductor and broadcaster – act as our Ambassadors, promoting the Trust’s work and raising the profile of sacred choral and organ music.

Harry Christophers CBE