from St Anne's

Belfast Cathedral Choir awarded grant by the Cathedral Music Trust

Belfast Cathedral Choir awarded substantial grant by the Cathedral Music Trust to support choral singing through the Covid Emergency.

The professional choir of Belfast Cathedral, under the direction of Mr Matthew Owens, has faced the same dilemma as cathedral choirs throughout the UK and Ireland. With lockdown announced across the nations in March 2020, the choir at Belfast Cathedral fell silent for the following four months, as the doors of Belfast’s magnificent cathedral were closed, and choir members were placed on furlough under the government’s Job Retention Scheme.

At a stroke, Belfast Cathedral, like all others in these islands lost all the income generated by visiting tourists and events held at the cathedral. These are essential sources of income which fund and support the cost of choirs and music departments in most cathedrals.

With the easing of restrictions, on 6th September, the members of the reconstituted Cathedral Choir resumed their (socially distanced) places in the cathedral’s spacious quire stalls, and the choral singing was restored for Cathedral Morning Worship and Choral Evensong. However, in straightened financial times, the choir has been singing with four sopranos and two altos, tenors and basses.

The award of a substantial grant from the Cathedral Music Trust made from their Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund, will be a lifeline to the cathedral choir and cathedral finances at Belfast over the four months to the year end. This generous grant enhances a loan facility made available by the Church of Ireland’s Representative Church Body to eight Cathedrals and Collegiate Churches across the island.

Belfast Cathedral Choir Practicing Social Distancing

In addition to supporting regular choral services, the Church Music Trust’s grant will allow for a fuller choir to sing at some significant events over the coming months. These will include a performance of Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem on the afternoon of Remembrance Sunday (8th November), the Advent Carol Service on Sunday 29th November, and the Cathedral’s renowned Festivals of Lessons and Carols sung on the days before Christmas.

The Dean of Belfast, the Very Reverend Stephen Forde welcomed the grant, saying “Our thanks are due to the Cathedral Music Trust and those who initiated the Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund. This grant will make a tangible difference for us, and is deeply appreciated. Between now and Christmas, although cathedral capacity will still be restricted by Covid Regulations, the financial support of the Cathedral Music Trust will ensure that choral music at Belfast Cathedral plays its part in carrying the morale of our community through still dark and challenging days.”

Mr Matthew Owens, Director of Music at Belfast Cathedral added “This is excellent and very welcome news for Belfast Cathedral Choir and for its music-making within the worship of this glorious place. The choir and I are most grateful, and it is wonderful to be back.”

Director of Music, Matthew Owens