This year marks a new chapter in the history of Bradford Diocese.

In the next few months it will be subsumed in a ‘super diocese’ together with Leeds, Ripon, Huddersfield and Wakefield.

The current Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, will become the bishop of the new Church of England Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

However, the loss of diocesan status under the new set-up has prompted concern over the future of Cathedral Choirs generally. The concerns have been slightly exacerbated after seven professional members of Llanduff Cathedral choir in Wales lost their jobs before Christmas.

The Friends of Cathedral Music are already keeping a close eye on the situation. Their spokesman Edward Bevin says they are “passionate and keen” to ensure Cathedrals throughout the country have a high standard of choirs and their aim is to ensure the Cathedral choirs aren’t undermined by losing their diocesan status.

Alex Woodrow, director of music at Bradford Cathedral, insists that the Cathedral’s choir is here to stay and for the long-term future.

With a £250,000 appeal currently underway to refurbish the Cathedral’s organ in time for its centenary in 2019, its music department is already experiencing public support having raised around £44,000 partly through grants, but also from donations at the weekly Wednesday organ recitals; local folk sponsoring an organ pipe, and sales of its specially-compiled CD of Cathedral music.

Alex assures there will be no change in the support the choir receives under the new set up. “And things are pretty healthy here musically, we have a lot of supporters,” he adds.

There are more than 40 Cathedrals in the UK and, according to Alex, each has its set up and dynamics. “Certainly here there is massive support for our cathedral and our music and there is a place for it, and it is valued.”

Long before Bradford’s boom time during its textile heyday, choirs were part of its fabric. “We know during the mid-Victorian period there were robed choirs singing here but presume there was some form of music since the Medieval times in some for or other,” explains Alex.

Cathedral choirs are also maintaining a tradition, according to Alex.

“Cathedrals have a duty by statute to maintain daily services which is why morning and evening prayer happen every day of the year, and the choir’s contribution to that is to sing at choral evensong several times a week. It is just one part of the rhythm of this place and it is a brilliant offering for our own community and for the wider district and city.

“It is something that has an unbroken history for a long time of almost daily singing in this building. There are all sorts of other things that link in with that as well – the education of young people which we are passionate about,” he says.

With 250 services a year to fulfill, including the weekly Sunday service, regular choral Eucharist and choral evensong, Bradford Cathedral’s choir has a demanding schedule.

“It is quite a heavy workload and so immensely valuable,” says Alex.

In addition, the Cathedral choir sustains major events such as the carol service and civic occasions during the year.

“The Cathedral is the place where live music – choral, organ and chamber – is most regularly to be heard in the Bradford area, with a weekly organ recital on Wednesdays at 1.05pm, five choral services sung each week by the Cathedral Choir, and the regular International Chamber Series organised by Bradford Council.

“It keeps the standard and repertoire fresh and we have a wider brief. As well as singing here we have been on the BBC’s Songs Of Praise and we are appearing again on Palm Sunday,” adds Alex.

Comprising 65 members across four ensembles ranging from youngsters to adults, the choir has also been involved in BBC radio programmes. “It is national exposure,” says Alex.

That, in turn, helps to put Bradford centre stage on the national map, too, but the long-term future of Cathedral music doesn’t solely rely on public support. Continuity through the next generation is also imperative to its future.

Running outreach singing and music sessions at local primary schools is an important part of its remit. Choristers also go on trips, the most recent to Edinburgh and they are due to go to London in October to showcase their skills.

Other benefits to members are the training and experience choristers gain, giving them the opportunity to become polished musicians.

For more information, call Bradford Cathedral on (01274) 777720.