What is Christmas without music and choral singing?
Whilst it is sad that the choir have not been able to continue into the new year, It was such a joy that the appointment of the new Director of Music, and the return of both the Cathedral Choir and Youth Choir coincided with one of the great musical feasts of the Church’s year, Christmas.
As was true for all choirs 2020 was difficult year in which the choir were left unable to rehearse together following the great success of their concert of the Bach St John Passion, which would also prove to be the last concert of both the Director of Music Alex Patterson and the Assistant Director of music Ellie Martin.
Fast forward to December and the safe return of the Cathedral Choir to the Cathedral worship was welcome step towards normality. Music is so important to the Cathedral and hugely valued by the parishioners who were worried that the musical life of the Cathedral would be irreparably damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jim Lee, a parishioner, wrote:
“It was a relief to hear in the autumn that Gregory Treloar was appointed Music Director – but who was he? What would he be like? How could he follow giants like Peter Smedley, Neil Page and Alex Paterson?
Mass on the First Sunday of Advent answered all the vital questions. The number of singers was very limited but still there were familiar faces and some I didn’t recognise. Both were encouraging! The strength in depth was still there and ability to attract new members. Another thing hit me - that the choir were all smiling; pleased to be back and loving the opportunity to sing.
The following weeks were similar. I am not a musician but the musical standards seem to be as high as ever. The Gregorian Chant is delivered with a strong emphasis on hearing the words distinctly and a lively reverence. There has been an Our Father in English which is very good and a welcome change as the congregation are not to sing at present. There are motets and other more technical choral works in the best classical traditions.”
The Youth choir also did a brilliant job of leading a well-attended and gratefully received outdoor candlelight carol service which was allowed congregants to sing. Those who came deemed the cold a necessary sacrifice for the chance to sing some of their favourite Christmas carols at least once over the Christmas period.
Whilst the ongoing restrictions mean that both choirs are currently unable to meet, we look forward to returning again in the near future to bring music back to the Cathedral once again.