• 19 June 2022

Down Cathedral hosts a very special evening of music

On 13 June, Down Cathedral played host to a special evening of music from Cathedra (the combined choirs of Down Cathedral and Cadenza, both directed by Michael McCracken pictured above), in what was their first public performance since 2019. 

The evening was entitled From Crucifixion to Glory and featured Stainer’s Crucifixion as well as a variety of pieces chosen to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, the Queen. 

Traditionally Cathedra performs a recital in the Cathedral on the Monday of Holy Week.  The intention was to perform the Crucifixion and a range of other pieces reflecting on the passion of Jesus. Unfortunately, the event was postponed due to the indisposition of several of those involved due to COVID19. 

The rescheduled event still featured the Crucifixion as its main piece (with soloists Mark Tilley and David Robertson and organist Stephen Hamill). The Holy Week performance was to be centred around the passion of Jesus. This time the passion journey evolved into a celebration of praise in the second half. This included three pieces which were sung at the Queen’s Coronation: Handel’s Zadok the Priest, Parry’s I was glad and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ setting of the hymn All people that on earth do dwell.

The first half of the evening also included a sung setting of a prayer for Ukraine, reflecting the close connections of several of the choir with the war–torn nation. Indeed, one family connected with the choir are hosting a Ukrainian family and one of their guests joined Cathedra for this performance. A retiring collection raised funds for relief work in Afghanistan and in Ukraine.

Speaking after the event, Down Cathedral organist and director of Cathedra, Michael McCracken said ‘It was a great pleasure for us to perform again together in Down Cathedral for the first time since 2019, as a result of the Pandemic. We were very disappointed to have postponed our Holy Week recital, but performing just as the season of Easter has come to its climax and in the days following the Jubilee celebrations gave us the opportunity to tweak the programme and give it a different and exciting energy.’

Dean of Down, the Very Revd Henry Hull, said ‘The contribution of music to the life of our cathedral is so significant. It was a delight to have Cathedra singing here again for the first time in over three years. The journey we made through music, from the sorrow and pain of the passion to the joy and celebration of praise with which the evening ended, was a powerful witness to the gospel we all seek to proclaim.’

Down Cathedral resounds with music
Down Cathedral resounds with music