(Economist Prospero blog) new Male singing stars will likely emerge from Church choirs

Choirs may be the ultimate training ground for hopeful boy bands and ensembles. Choristers””who in British and American cathedral choirs usually range from eight to 13, with continental choirs retaining their singers until the age of 19””typically rehearse together daily, making their decision to team up in ensembles of their own making less risky. They form an immediate talent pool of skilled musicians who enjoy making music together, and know one another’s musical likes and personalities. “[British cathedral] choirs are an ideal place for future bandmates to grow up in,” says Simon Kirk, director of music at St John’s College School, which educates the boy choristers of St John’s College Chapel in Cambridge. “You work as part of a professional team that tours and records. From the age of nine to ten, the boys work as professional musicians.”

When Barnaby Smith graduated from Westminster Abbey Choir School at 13, he already knew that he wanted to keep singing with some of his fellow choristers. Several years later, four of them formed the acapella ensemble Voces8, which has since won numerous competitions and is now the singers’ full-time occupation. “A small ensemble is like a family,” Mr Smith explains. “Having sung in a boys’ choir was vital. Choir school is a very professional environment where boys depend on one another. It’s not something you do on your own.”

Though top-level choirs are fertile band-making territory, establishing an ensemble can be awkward if it takes place while the boys are still choir members. “You decide who you get along with,” explains Louis Weise, a 17-year-old member of the St Thomas Choir in Leipzig. “If you’re going to do additional rehearsals together and also try to make money together, you really have to get along.”

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