In this week's #BlessedIsShe, we meet Helen Vincent, Alto Lay Clerk in the Cathedral Choir.
Tomorrow at 6.00pm the Cathedral Choir will be singing at the Advent Procession, the traditional start of Advent. On Wednesday, Evensong at 3.30pm will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. December is one of the busiest times of the choir's year, as we approach Christmas.
In this centenary year of women's suffrage, we are celebrating the women who play important roles in the daily life of the Cathedral community.
Each Saturday of the year, we will be sharing a different story here and across our social media.
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and search for the #BlessedIsShe hashtag.
What’s your connection with Bristol Cathedral?
I sing throughout the year with Bristol Cathedral Choir as one of the two Alto Lay Clerks. We also have a female Choral Scholar in our ranks!
How long have you been associated with the Cathedral?
I’m relatively new to the Cathedral, but already feel a part of the community here. I was offered the position of Lay Clerk in 2016 and made my debut with the choir on their tour to Bordeaux during the summer of that year.
What first drew you to Bristol Cathedral?
I already knew in my mind that I wanted to sing with a cathedral choir, so when I saw that the Cathedral was openly welcoming women into the role of Lay Clerk, I decided to see if this is where I wanted to put down roots. I feel at home here in Bristol and the city offers so many opportunities, which was exactly what I needed. I’m definitely proud to call it my home.
What have been some of your personal highlights?
I first officially met the choir on the tour bus to Bordeaux! It was a great way to spend quality time with my new colleagues and to get to know everyone. Despite some very long coach journeys the scenery, experiences, music and company were truly something I will cherish. Recordings and broadcasts have also become a part of life as a professional choral singer, but it was a proud moment to sing with the choir at the start of my time here in 2016 for my first Christmas broadcast live on the television.
Since then, I’ve experienced two wonderful years with the choir throughout the seasons. In addition to this, I have sung the National Anthem as part of a quartet in front of the FBI, provided close harmony with the back row for private events and endured a hail-storm last November during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph. All of these things combine to make singing with the choir a truly unique, interesting and rewarding experience.
What would you like to see the Cathedral doing over the next few years?
I am encouraged by the Cathedral’s attitude towards women. They truly value every member of the community. I hope that this continues to be important when it comes to the life of the music department and the Cathedral as a whole. The girl choristers now have role models to look up to when it comes to cathedral music, so my position in the choir not only impacts on the future of the Cathedral, but is part of an interesting and exciting time for cathedral music across the country.
I would also like to see the choir continue to be involved in the life of the city and to keep moving with the times alongside valuing its rich history. It would be lovely to continue to perform and explore modern works and commissions to expand our repertoire. Perhaps once we are able to reach our target with raising funds for the organ restoration project, we can use the opportunity to celebrate music in the life of the cathedral in full force!
What does the Cathedral mean for you?
I think my life would feel incomplete without the Cathedral. From the outset, everyone has made me feel welcome and I get a real sense of belonging from that. The warmth and friendliness of those who work and worship here really brings the community to life and I have a lot to thank my colleagues in the choir for that too. I am proud of the work of the cathedral and I know that they endeavour to have a positive impact on not just the cathedral community, but on the city as a whole.