At St Thomas’ we are blessed to have a strong choral tradition to enhance our worship: a Parish Choir has existed continually since the 1860s. It has a long tradition of excellence and continues to provide music for worship in the way it has done for some one hundred and fifty years. While for much of this time the choir comprised boys and gentlemen, it now includes adult singers, boys and girls. The boy and girl choristers and the adult singers are distinct groups, with their own musical and social identities. Mostly, they rehearse separately and sing services in different combinations; at Christmas, Easter, special parish services and concerts the Choirs all join together.
The Boys' Choir
The Boys’ Choir sings one service each week with the Back Row, either the 10.00 am Sung Eucharist or 6.00pm Choral Evensong, and has one Sunday off per month. The boys rehearse on Tuesdays and Fridays, and before their Sunday services.
Older boys with changing voices rehearse for an hour on Tuesday evenings, singing Bass, Tenor or Countertenor. We support their vocal change with vocal technique, musicianship and theory, alongside learning music for upcoming services and concerts. Some boys continue to sing with the Back Row, and future plans are to create a Senior Chorister Ensemble with Senior Girls.’
The Girls' Choir
The Girls' Choir at St Thomas-on-The Bourne was founded in 2004 to run in parallel with the Boys, giving them the same opportunities as boys and enabling them to take part in the worship at St Thomas'.
The girl choristers sing on their own as well as with the Adult Choir. The girls rehearse on Tuesdays and Fridays, and before their Sunday services.
The girl choristers generally continue to sing in the Girls' Choir until they leave school.
After leaving St Thomas’, some former boy and girl choristers continue their singing in leading university choirs: in recent years, this has included choral scholarships at Jesus College, Cambridge, Trinity College, Cambridge and Kings College, London. One former chorister became a Lay Clerk at Exeter Cathedral, another attended a music conservatoire – the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Former choristers who are available locally are invited to come and sing at St Thomas’ from time to time, for example with the Chamber Choir at Christmas.
The "Back Row"
The “Back Row” at St Thomas-on-The Bourne comprises alto, tenor and bass singers. They sing with both the Boys' and Girls' Choirs, and occasionally sing services on their own. Rehearsals are on Friday evenings (7:30pm-8:45pm) and an hour before services.
The adults are accomplished local singers, often including parents of choristers. A number have sung in leading choirs, including the Chapel Royal; York Minster; Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford; and Guildford Cathedral. Some boy choristers also sing with the Back Row once their voices change. Members of the Back Row enjoy an active social life.
The Chamber Choir
The Chamber Choir consists of the Back Row and additional sopranos, altos, tenors and basses from the wider parish and further afield. The Chamber Choir sings several services each term at times when choristers are on holiday or are not available. These include regular services such as Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Ascension Day, All Souls and Midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve, as well as other occasional services. Rehearsals typically take place for an hour and a half before services, with occasional rehearsals on a Friday evening.
As with the Back Row, many of the Chamber Choir are highly accomplished singers, including former choristers who enjoy singing with a less demanding schedule.
Our Music Staff
Director of Music - Jordan Theis
Jordan became our Director of Music in January 2022. He was previously Music Director of The Museum Singers, the Youth Choirs at St. Luke’s Battersea, the Community Choir at St. Botolph without Aldgate, and Redhill and Reigate Choral Society. He has been a visiting conductor for the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Trinity Laban Junior College Choirs, Constanza Chorus and Orlando Chamber Choir. Jordan has studied conducting with Joanna Tomlinson, and has participated in masterclasses with Neil Ferris, David Hill, John Dickson and Peter Hanke. He has taught piano in Guildford High School, the Ark Academy and the Gipsy Hill Federation. He has led singing in a variety of educational settings and has led community music events for the Barbican Music Library, City Carers, Mercer (MMC) and the Camberwell Arts Festival.
Jordan gained an MMus in musicology ethnomusicology from King’s College London in 2019. He is enjoying his new role leading our choirs, developing musical excellence and introducing new repertoire.
Organist and Assistant Music Director - Julian Cooper
Julian Cooper was born in Aldershot and commenced his musical studies with the late Mrs Barbara Holderness of Fleet. Whilst at Durham University, alongside studying chemistry for a degree and then a PhD, he was Organ Scholar at the College of St Hild and St Bede, as well as Organist at St John’s Church, Neville's Cross, Durham. He studied the organ with Keith Wright, Assistant Organist at the cathedral. During his time at Durham, Julian won six prizes in the Associate of the Royal College of Organists diploma, including the prestigious Limpus prize, and subsequently won the Harding and Durrant prizes in the Fellowship examination.
He then commenced his career (“day job”) in the pharmaceutical industry. Alongside this, Julian was Assistant Organist at St Neots Parish Church in Cambridgeshire before moving to Farnham in January 2007.
He has given recitals at the cathedrals of Durham, Dunblane and St Giles (Edinburgh), as well as in various parish churches. He has given recitals in the cathedrals of Lviv and Kyiv in Ukraine, and has attended study courses on historical organs in the Netherlands, Germany, Latvia, Italy and Spain. He has performed in numerous masterclasses with organists including Christopher Stembridge, Pieter van Dijk, Andrés Cea Galán and Ullrich Böhme. Julian has produced a CD of the Forster and Andrews organ at All Saints Parish Church, Fleet. He owns two harpsichords, a virginal and an 1830s Broadwood square piano.
Assistant Organist - Andrew Harrap
Andrew grew up in Farnham and was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, where he studied piano with Janet Newman. He graduated from Royal Holloway University London in 2015 with a first-class honours degree in English Literature. He managed to combine his musical and literary interests in his dissertation on the role of music in Shakespeare’s plays. Andrew then attained a master’s degree, again with a focus on Shakespeare. During this time, Andrew also gained his LRSM diploma in piano performance.
Andrew started playing the organ while at the Royal Grammar School with Andrew Lamb, Robert Gilman and then Philip Scriven. However, it was during his gap year spent studying with David Titterington at the Royal Academy of Music that his organ playing took off. He arrived at St Thomas-on-The Bourne as Organ Scholar and subsequently studied with Julian Cooper, before becoming Assistant Organist.
Andrew is involved with the rich variety of musical life in the church, playing the organ for choral services as well as weddings, funerals and baptisms, and accompanying concerts on the piano. A particular highlight was his role in rehearsing and accompanying a quartet formed from senior choir girls. This enabled him to perform secular music, as well as the choral music which fulfils the church’s liturgical requirements. He has also played the organ on choir tours to diverse locations including Prague, Cologne, Belgium and Venice.
In addition to playing at St Thomas’, Andrew also accompanies services in the local area, primarily at St Martin-on-The Green, Lower Bourne, and All Saint’s, Tilford, as well as St Joan of Arc in Farnham. Andrew is the rehearsal pianist for Godalming Operatic Society. He commenced with their 2020 production of Ruddigore. He has continued accompanying for rehearsals of Pirates of Penzance in 2023 and hopes to play for Patience in 2024.