BBC Chorister of the Year Winner 2021

‘Truly outstanding and flawless’ was Howard Goodall’s description of Ruby’s winning performance in this year’s BBC Young Chorister of the Year. Ruby, a chorister at Guildford Cathedral, was selected from a very tight field. Mila, a former pupil at Chetham’s and chorister at Manchester Cathedral, coming a very close second. Warm congratulations to them both and to the remaining finalists, Cormac, Jake, Owen and Rebekah for such wonderful performances!

Ruby, one of the choristers at Guildford Cathedral
Ruby’s winning performance in this year’s BBC Young Chorister of the Year

The competition semi-finals and final were recorded in Salisbury Cathedral by BBC Songs of Praise and Radio 2. The programme was hosted by Aled Jones with a panel of expert judges – Howard Goodall, Lesley Garrett and David Grant. On winning, Ruby said: “I still can’t believe I won! I feel very lucky and have loved every minute and am so excited for the future. A huge thank you to all those who have supported me, especially Katherine Dienes-Williams, Organist and Master of the Choristers here at Guildford.”

In summing up the competition, the judges gave Ruby glowing comments. David Grant said: “It was translucently brilliant”. Lesley Garrett said: “She’s got this fantastically free, powerful, gorgeous lyric sound.”, while Howard Goodall, on making the announcement that Ruby was the winner said: “In a tight field we felt that this singer gave a performance that was truly outstanding and flawless.“

The judges had plenty of praise too for the other finalists: Cormac, Jake (St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral and St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh), Owen, a chorister at Llandaff Cathedral and a pupil at The Cathedral School and Rebekah, a 16 year-old chorister from Belfast.

Clive Marriott, CSA Chair and Headmaster of Salisbury Cathedral School, adds: “Thanks to the BBC’s Songs of Praise and Radio 2, this year’s competition was a wonderful showcase of just some of the hugely talented young choristers to be heard daily in cathedrals and churches throughout the UK. All six finalists were winners and are to be congratulated on fine performances. It was gratifying to learn how much they appreciated and enjoyed the wonderful acoustic we are privileged to have in Salisbury Cathedral!”

Chilcott Reworked!

When thinking of which Christmas Carol to sing for the final, Ruby was very keen to sing ‘The Shepherds Sing’ by renowned composer and former Kings singer, Bob Chilcott. However, the piece only existed in a four-part choir version. The Cathedral reached out to Bob who very kindly arranged it for solo voice specifically for Ruby to sing! You will have another chance to hear it as Ruby will be singing the carol at the Cathedrals Lessons and Carols services on 19 December at 6pm and 4pm on Christmas Day.

Congratulations to Mila, runner up in this year’s BBC Young Chorister of the Year

Runner-up Mila joined Wells Cathedral School as a Year 9 pupil and is enjoying being one of the school’s Vocal Scholars. This programme is particularly suited to former choristers, whose ensemble skills will be extended whilst allowing time and space for their own voice to change and blossom. Vocal Scholars benefit from a nurturing and supportive timetable constructed to match their specific interests and level of vocal maturity. There will be an inevitable emphasis on choral music, but singers with all aspirations and interests, including music theatre and commercial/jazz performance, will be welcome. She sings in both Choralia and the Chapel Choir.

Christopher Finch, Coordinator of Vocal Studies at WCS, says: “We are all extremely proud of Mila’s fantastic achievement! She has a voice of real beauty and absolutely loves to sing. We are thrilled that such a large TV audience has been able to enjoy her wonderful performances.”
You can watch the final on BBC iPlayer at