Organ Scholarship Service for Down & Dromore and Connor
The Down, Dromore & Connor Organ Scholarship Choral Evensong was held in St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast on Sunday 19th September 2021.
The Anglican Church Music tradition is arguably the finest in the world, with choirs and organists providing music of an exceptionally high standard to enhance the liturgy, but there is always a need to train more young organists who can ensure its future. The benefits of music study are well known. The study of music fosters concentration, discipline and confidence. Music–making in itself promotes good mental health, feelings of self–esteem and the knowledge that something of beauty and value is being contributed to our Cathedrals and Parishes.
The Choral Evensong Service was conducted by the Dean, the Very Rev. Stephen Forde, who has recently been appointed to the Board of Management of Down, Dromore and Connor’s Organ Scholarship scheme. Lessons were read by Canon David Humphreys, Honorary Secretary to the Board, and Dr Judith Harper, also a Board member.
The Right Reverend George Davison, Bishop of Connor, was the preacher. He began his sermon with the following thought: “Where there is devotional music God is always there with his gracious presence.” Music has always been at the heart of worship. Today is a time to give thanks and to celebrate. He said it was important to acknowledge the talents God has given the scholars to make music and also to thank the tutors for putting so much effort into teaching them.
The Dean and Rector of St Columba’s Knock, Chancellor John Auchmuty, Chairman of the Board, presented the certificates to those scholars who had completed the three year course. Chancellor Auchmuty congratulated those who had shown and demonstrated great commitment and resilience during the past eighteen months of the pandemic. He said today was the successful conclusion of their journey on the Organ Scholarship scheme but more importantly it marks the beginning of a new exciting opportunity for each of them. He thanked the tutors Dr Joe McKee, St Columba’s Knock; Michael McCracken, Down Cathedral; and the Rev Dr Ian Mills who is now residing in England, for their tremendous teaching and ongoing support to each of the scholars.
Organ Scholars who received certificates:
- Caroline McCartney, St Columba’s Knock (now in Durham Cathedral)
- Callum Whiteside, St Mark’s Ballysillan
- Rebekah Wilson BMus, Knockbreda Parish
- Victoria Irwin, St John’s Whitehouse
- Jack McCabe, Killinchy and Kilmood (awarded Junior Organ Scholarship, Queen’s College Cambridge)
Glenn English, Magherally Parish Banbridge;
Chancellor Auchmuty thanked Matthew Owens, Director of Music at St Anne’s, and the Choir for the beautiful music at Choral Evensong.
He also thanked the Bishop for his helpful and supportive sermon recognising the gifts of others in enhancing worship through music.
Due to the pandemic, no new Year 1 scholars have been selected but the work for those already accepted on to the scheme will continue:
- David Dunlop (All Saints Belfast)
- Clare Kelly ALCM (St Patrick’s Jordanstown)
- Sean Turner (St Patrick’s Ballymoney)
- Tanya Zachara (St Mark’s Dundela)
- Larissa Fleck (St Patrick’s Armoy)
- Dr Mark McKinty (St Cedma’s Larne)
- Hannah Shaw (St Cedma’s Larne)
- Grace Steed (St Mark’s Dundela)
The primary benefit of using the pipe organ in worship is the dynamic range and colour that one can get from the instrument. From the softest whispers to the grandest fortes the organ is the only instrument that is capable of producing the sheer scale of volume that is needed to not only lead a congregation in singing but also to provide accompaniment for choir or soloist and then to stand alone and perform its own solo repertoire.
The organ is an instrument that when played correctly can invoke not only a range of emotions (joy at a wedding and sombreness at a funeral) but can help weave the portions of Church of Ireland Liturgy together seamlessly.
With thanks to Angela Kerr
During the service, Certificates were awarded to: Victoria Irwin (St. John’s Whitehouse), Callum Whiteside (St. Mark’s Ballysillan), Rebekah Wilson (Knockbreda Parish), and Caroline McCartney (St. Columba’s Knock). Glenn English (Magherally Parish) and Jack McCabe (Killinchy and Kilmood) were conferred in absentia.