In 2002, Channel 9’s Sunday program, produced by Nick Rushworth, included me in one of their interviews. Other interviews had been conducted with the parents of children in the choir at St John’s Cathedral. When in the 90s my primary school age child brought home an ad in the school newsletter, advertising choir scholarships for small boys, my heart sank. I was glad I was not the parent of a small boy seeking a choir scholarship. Today, everyone knows why. Then, nobody else knew; only those of us who’d been initiated into the mysteries of Lust in the Loft.
In 2002, as I was being interviewed about abuse in St John’s, I had sweat pouring down my face. They had turned off the air-conditioning and fans and it was a hot day. But I was not going to miss out on one of the few opportunities I would ever have to tell my story, particularly given the media silence that descended after 2004.
This post is to ask if someone will investigate child sexual abuse in cathedral choirs? It asks everyone to stop focusing on Pell for a minute and look at the entire culture around choirs, cathedrals, robes, choirboys, etc. It is fairly instructive to google Royal College of Organists and Royal School of Church Music together with the search terms child sexual abuse. You will need to place quote marks around each organisation’s name.
Is it any wonder, given the angelic music floating around cathedrals on any given Sunday, that choral music can practically hypnotize a congregation? Music’s seductive power is well known. What is less known is the way church music has become corrupted by the evil of paedophilia. 50 years ago I began my initiation into cathedral organ playing. Five years after that I graduated with a performer’s degree. By then I had heard a fellow student worrying that he was beginning to lust after choirboys. He went on to become a choirmaster. At Pell’s church. I am sure he sought help for his predilection. I hope he will add his voice to mine. It is time to ask all Choirmasters everywhere to acknowledge the crimes committed against choirboys. It doesn’t sound so ridiculous, in the post-Pell era, does it?