choir

choir

[kwahyuhr]
choir [O.Fr.] 1 A group of singers; traditionally the chorus organized to sing in a church. Usually, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran choirs are composed of men and boys, but occasionally in these churches and customarily in other Protestant churches men and women form the choir. 2 That division of an organ usually used to accompany the singers, played from the lowest manual on the console. 3 A section of a chorus or orchestra, as the contrasted choirs of polychoral music, or brass choir, woodwind choir. 4 That part of a church reserved for the singers and the officiating clergy in a cathedral or abbey; the same area in a parish church is the chancel: see stall.

Body of singers with more than one voice to a part. For many centuries, church choirs sang only plainsong (see Gregorian chant). The relative complexity of early polyphony required solo voices rather than choral performance, but by the 15th century polyphony was being performed chorally. The growth of the secular choir (or chorus) coincided with the beginnings of opera. An oratorio choir is part of a different tradition, which stems from the augmented church choirs used to provide choral portions of a given oratorio, whether performed in or out of church.

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