B is for…Belfast
On the second day of our Alphabetical Advent Adventure, we are hopping over the Irish Sea to visit St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.
As Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the new church year, it is appropriate that this Advent heralds an exciting new beginning in the musical life of Belfast Cathedral. During Advent, the new Belfast Cathedral Children’s Choir will be rehearsing for their first performances at the Cathedral carol services later in December. The Children’s Choir is the idea of Matthew Owens, the new Director of Music. It provides a unique solution to the fact that Belfast Cathedral is one of the few cathedrals in the UK without a dedicated choir school, instead drawing boy and girl choristers from schools across Belfast and beyond. From now on, the Belfast Cathedral Children’s Choir will rehearse once a week and sing at the Sunday morning Eucharist and special services throughout the year.
Today is one of the few days between Advent Sunday and Christmas Day when there isn’t a carol service.
Yesterday, as well as the Advent Carol Service featuring music by Guerrero, Stainer and Rachmaninov, the Cathedral hosted a carol service for Northern Ireland Hospice, the first of 16 carol and other seasonal services to be held at the Cathedral, many for charities and organisations from across Northern Ireland. This includes two Cathedral carol services, on the 22nd and 24th December, Midnight Mass and Christmas Day Eucharist. Alongside all these, the normal round of daily services continues.
Members of the choir are looking forward to this busy time:
“I love singing as part of a choir and have done since the age of 8. The challenge of learning new music, preparation for services and delivering a superb performance is what motivates me. A highlight of the year is singing the Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve – it’s such a special service” – Susie, Soprano
“I enjoy singing music from a wide range of musical periods, from early Renaissance right up to contemporary world premieres. It can be somewhat challenging to receive unfamiliar or difficult music and perform it to a high standard within a relatively short time but I like to think that if something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you, and I am always keen to further improve all aspects of my singing.” – Rory, bass lay clerk
Details of all upcoming services can be found on Belfast Cathedral’s website. If you are in Belfast over the festive season, do go along to one of the services – you can be sure of wonderful music and a very warm welcome!
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