Former Director of Music, Alex Patterson, writes:
Following three incredibly impactful years, Ellie Martin has left Nottingham Cathedral after successfully gaining a place onto a fast track programme to be a Children and Families Social Worker. Those of you who have gotten to know Ellie will no doubt agree with me that, although this is a huge loss for the Cathedral, Ellie is exactly the person with the knack for nuance that makes her a perfect candidate for working with children and young people in need.
Ellie joined the Cathedral in September 2017 as our Youth Choir Director, which immediately opened up a range of possibilities for the development of the music foundation. Ellie was instrumental in helping shape our strategy and vision for music at the Cathedral, which had our young singers at the centre. We both appreciated that a music foundation is nothing without its people and those dedicated individuals who turn up each week, and it was important that our work was driven by creating a safe space and a range of opportunities for these individuals to flourish.
There have been many highlights: Youth Choir performances from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater on Good Friday in 2018 to Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo by Joseph Horowitz in July 2019, establishing Vivace, a group of the older girls of the Youth Choir to explore more challenging repertoire, and singing a wider range of services, from Ordinations to weddings. Then there was Lourdes. Taking the Cathedral Choir on the Diocesan Pilgrimage was a dream harboured by Canon Geoffrey Hunton, and Ellie and I were keen that, in celebration of the Cathedral’s 175th Anniversary, we should take members of the Youth Choir too. The monumental task resulted in many fundraising events spearheaded by Ellie (who could forget the Hymnathon!) and the ongoing tireless efforts of ensuring the tour was enjoyable and safe. I still have a huge sense of pride that the Youth Choir took centre stage for the 175th Anniversary Mass on St Barnabas Day in 2019.
Of course, Ellie’s role extended beyond the Youth Choir, becoming a regular member of the Cathedral Choir, deputising for me on many occasions, and forming a pillar of the Cathedral’s musical family. Our work with the Nottingham Music Hub also saw Ellie running the Robin Hood Youth Choir based at the Cathedral and inspiring hundreds of children and young people in city schools through workshops and massed choir performances at both the Albert Hall and Royal Concert Hall. How lucky too that we were able to benefit from her work as a professional singer in her own right. I can still hear her voice soaring over the final moments of our performance of Tobas and the Angel by Jonathan Dove back in 2018, and it was an honour to work with her when she sang the soprano solos (as well as singing in the dramatic chorus writing) in our performance of J. S. Bach’s St John Passion earlier this year. The day of the concert also happened to be her birthday, and it was characteristic of Ellie that she should give of all her musical and humans talents to ensure that it was the rest of us who received the gift that day – a heartrending performance of ‘Zerfliesse mein herze’. Thankfully, Ellie assures me that she will still be singing, which will be a relief to us all.
Ellie’s appointment as Assistant Director of Music was long overdue and only scratches the surface of someone who went above and beyond to ensure we were always striving to be as inclusive and as welcoming as possible, without falling short of the standards the Cathedral aspires to.
I will be forever grateful to Ellie for her support, encouragement, friendship, and humour during our time at Nottingham and wish her well for this exciting new chapter in her life.
We are delighted to hear that the hymn tune 'St Barnabas (Nottingham)', written by our former organist Robert Gower, will be included in the new revision of the English Hymnal later this year.
Composed during his time at the Cathedral, Robert's hymn tune was written for the hymn 'A man to Christ committed' by Timothy Dudley-Smith, and sung during the Mass to Celebrate the Cathedral's 175th Anniversary in 2019.