2019 Celebrations at St Thomas Choir School, New York

The Saint Thomas Choir School officially opened on 3 March 1919. Last month the school enjoyed a very special Founders’ Day, celebrating the three individuals who were instrumental in starting the school: T Tertius Noble, director of music; Ernest Stires, the rector of Saint Thomas’s Church; and Charles Steele, the major benefactor who endowed the school.

Old boys joined choristers for lunch before singing a joint Evensong.  Four of the school’s alumni, currently studying the organ, gave a recital after the Service on the new Dobson organ, dedicated to John Gavin Scott. Celebrations continue through to the reunion weekend in November.

Early History

The School was founded in 1919 at the request of Dr T Tertius Noble, who became organist and choirmaster of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in 1913.  Dr Noble had previously been at York Minster in England, where all of his choristers were educated at The Minster School. The latter traces its history back to 627, so one of the oldest UK choir schools.

He had accepted the position on the understanding that a choir school would be necessary to achieve the musical standard desired for the parish. The new school opened on 55th Street with 21 boys.

The school remained at that site, with periodic renovations and additions, until 1987, when it relocated to its current location, a purpose-built fifteen-story building on 58th Street housing the choristers and a full-time faculty. In 1996, the school expanded to include third grade.

The School Today

The Choir School is for boys in grades three through eight. All boys stay at the school through the school year, which runs from early September to early June. The school offers a challenging pre-preparatory curriculum, inter-scholastic sports, and, of course, musical training. An average class size of eight students ensures each boy individual attention both in the classroom and out.

The 30 to 40 boys who each year attend Saint Thomas Choir School not only live, study and work together as part of a community of learning, but also sing together as professional members of the world-class choir of Saint Thomas Church.

The boys of the Choir School are key players and participants in a rich and living tradition—a tradition of education, sacred music and Christian worship—that traces its roots far back through the centuries. The boys of Saint Thomas Choir School, in short, are both beneficiaries of and contributors to one of the great streams of Western culture and learning.

Organist and Director of Music, Daniel Hyde will be returning to the UK in October to succeed Stephen Cleobury as Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge. 

What about Girls?

Saint Thomas Choir School holds a unique place in American sacred music, particularly in the Anglican tradition. Since 2005, the Choir School has hosted a nine-day choral experience in sacred music to outstanding middle and high school girls, ages 12 – 19, with excellent music and social skills.

The girl chorister course is known for its high expectations, rigorous schedule and numerous rewards. The girls prepare two treble Evensongs and the Sunday service, sung with the gentlemen of the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys. Services at Saint Thomas are web cast and heard by thousands from around the world. In addition to rehearsals, theory classes and private voice lessons, participants have daily exposure to the opportunities of Manhattan, including a Broadway show, other outings, and a sports program that features games in Central Park or the school’s full gym.