On October 1st, a very special evensong will take place at 5.00pm in St. George’s Church, Belfast. The Friends of Cathedral Music will present the Parish Choir with a grant for £20,000 in order to further the work of the choir. The Parish Choir, made up of 19 choristers, 6 choral scholars and 10 gentlemen will sing the service, at which 7 new choristers will be installed into the choir, receiving their surplice and their own, personalised hymn book.
The choristers come from a variety of schools around Belfast and Lisburn and rehearse on Thursday evenings with the gentlemen and on Friday afternoons alongside the probationers or new recruits. The training of the choir is managed jointly by David and Maeve Falconer, David directs the choir, Maeve recruits and trains the probationers and provides one to one singing lessons for the 6 choral scholars. They are assisted at the organ on Sunday mornings by Mr Ian MacKrell, and at evensongs and festival services by Mr Mark McGrath. The choristers also receive lessons in Music theory from music under-graduate, Mr Ryan Garnham. The choristers pass into the back row seamlessly after voice break and, as choral scholars, may move on to university choral scholarships. This year Michael Hong leaves to take up a choral scholarship in Clare College, Cambridge while former organ scholar, Donal McCann takes up the position of organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. Organ scholarships are also available at St George’s, with tuition provided by Mr Mark McGrath.
The Church of Ireland offers a rich variety of services, some based more loosely on the Book of Common Prayer, others based entirely on it. St George’s in Belfast and St Bartholomew’s in Dublin offer Choral Eucharists sung by advanced parish choirs of boys and men, using the BCP liturgy to its fullest.
The Friends of Cathedral Music is a charity with a mission to maintain and progress Cathedral music. As such, it offers grants to cathedrals in order to help them to meet the costs of developing and maintaining the choirs. They have a special fund reserved for choirs made up of trebles and men. Although we are a parish church, the exceptional tradition and standards upheld in St George’s were deemed worthy of investment and the Parish Choir has been awarded a grant of £20,000. The choir is greatly indebted to Friends of Cathedral Music for this tremendous support and acknowledgement of the hard work and commitment from the Director of Music, teachers, organists, men and boys of St George’s Church, Belfast.