Do all roads in Milan lead to the Duomo? It is certainly interesting to note that, while the Cathedral is the seat of the Cathedral Choir's "religious services", the place where its pueri cantores receive their personal and musical training is actually right on the Darsena, almost seeming to suggest an intrinsic connection between this compelling narrative of faith and art, and the timeless story of the waterways leading to the monument, which for centuries made it possible for it to be nourished by precious Candoglia marble. Similarly, the Cathedral Choir, the oldest cultural institution in Milan, active continuously since 1402, nourishes the Duomo with harmony and beauty every time it is called to perform its lofty task: to bring man closer to God through song.
The “Franchino Gaffurio” School, a separate section of the "Thouar-Gonzaga" Istituto Comprensivo Statale, dedicated to music and which teaches years 5 through 9, has the difficult job of training the pueri cantores.
The school keeps the children busy from approximately 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, adding musical training to their hours of basic education. About two hours of each day are dedicated to solfege, singing, rehearsal (Friday together with the men's choir), and either organ or piano lessons. The teaching of music and singing are integrated with knowledge of the various rituals and the meanings of the psalms, prayers, and hymns that are a part of the choir's religious services within the Cathedral. The boys and girls are entrusted to the care of the choir's maestro, the vice maestro, the Duomo's appointed organist, and the second appointed organist.
The true operational core of the pueri is comprised of boys and girls from years 6 to 9, as those in year 5 require almost an entire year of preparation, while the voices of some of the students in year 9 frequently begin to change. The level of commitment asked of these children is significant: the choir must, in fact, be present in the Duomo every Sunday, for every midweek religious holiday, and often for evening vespers.
Each of the choir's appearances in the Duomo involves preparation similar to that required for a concert (transcription of the scores according to the various "voices", preparation, rehearsal, and performance), as it is the choir's legacy and tradition to constantly renew its musical programs, borrowing also from the great patrimony preserved within the Archives of the Veneranda Fabbrica, which each year are further enriched with new works by its own composers.
In addition to its religious services, in recent years the choir has performed numerous concerts, both in Italy and abroad. Among the most important are: in 2010 it performed a piece by Maurizio Fabrizio Everyman, with Mango, Valente, and Branduard; in 2012 it sang in various celebrations presided over by Pope Benedict XVI as part of the 7th World Meeting of Families; in 2013 it accompanied the Ambrosian Diocese at its hearing in St. Peter's with Pope Francis and participated in the events scheduled for the MiTo festival, performing the premier of Magnificat by Leonardo Schiavo, a piece that won the International Competition of Sacred Music Composition, held by the Veneranda Fabbrica in 2014; it sang with the Sistine Chapel Choir at the Holy Mass for the Beatification of Pope Paul VI, at the end of which it received a salute from Pope Francis; and in 2014 the Cathedral Choir's boys choir undertook a long tour that visited ten cities in Japan and received great public acclaim.
Furthermore, in 2016 the Cathedral Choir recorded Cantate cum Jubilo, an all new recording of a series of pieces from their repertoire, exclusively for the magazine “Amadeus”. In 2017, after having sung for Pope Francis' meeting in the Duomo with the clergy and the consecrated individuals of the Diocese, in May it had a successful tour in Germany with two concerts in the St. Cornelius Church in Dülken (near Düsseldorf).