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Carlisle hosts National gathering

Carlisle hosts National Gathering of cathedral music lovers

A 100-strong group of cathedral and church music enthusiasts from throughout the UK and The Netherlands will be meeting for a weekend of activities in Carlisle from March 24-26.

The Friends of Cathedral Music (FCM) is a world renowned organisation which hands out money to boost music-making in British cathedrals and churches and a cheque for £25,000 in support of choral scholarships which was presented to Carlisle cathedral last year, raised its funding from FCM to £81,500 since the first donation was made in 1985.

Next weekend’s event will be the second occasion FCM has visited the city; the previous took place 19 years ago.  Rosemary Downey, the organiser, said that it was very fitting for FCM to be at the cathedral just prior to the retirement of Jeremy Suter, who has completed 26 years as Director of Music. A special toast to mark his achievements will be made.

The gathering – FCM stages three similar national events throughout the country every year – will be based for most of the time in the cathedral, but it will also be focusing on the colourful history of the ancient border city and members will be visiting the 12th-century Lanercost Church and Priory too. A concert is to be given by the much-loved Carlisle Cathedral Youth Choir; a special organ recital and a talk on local history by John Lee complete the programme.

Since its formation more than 60 years ago, FCM, which has 4,000 members, has donated £4m in the UK and overseas towards sustaining church and cathedral music, and, following the launch of its Diamond Fund for Choristers last year, seeks to raise £10m by 2020.

At a time when some music departments are battling with running costs, the Carlisle sum enables the cathedral to continue to be part of a priceless 1,400-year-old heritage in music-making in the nation’s cathedrals.