Up to 4,000 people descended on St Anne’s Cathedral on Culture Night in the Cathedral Quarter on Friday September 21.
The programme of short events lasted from 4.30pm until 9.15pm. Tours of the Cathedral and organ recitals, each lasting about 20 minutes, have proved very popular over the past three years. As ever Ian Barber, the Cathedral Organist, chose a good mixture of pieces – and the tours always turn up interesting questions and produce a great deal of interest.
The Dean of St Anne’s, the Very Rev John Mann, looks back on an evening that proved to be an overwhelming success:
“Three young singers were an important part of the schedule this year. I heard only the end of Ciaran Lavery’s performance, due to other commitments, but judging by the audience reaction, I wish I had heard it all.
“Taking a turn trying to count people coming in, I experienced the beautiful, wistful songs of SOAK from the far end of the Cathedral.
“But it was perhaps Katherine Phillipa, who sang for a wonderful half an hour, sitting at the piano, who had the largest audience, most of the central part of the nave was comfortably full; children in buggies with balloons, bikers, older couples just out for the excitement of mixing with others in the cultural heart of our City, men in suits and young people with all kinds of adornments, joined with visitors from the USA, France, Spain (to name but a few) to enjoy an amazing evening.”
“I was taken aback by two things. First was the comment from a child (I guess she was five or six years old) to her mother as she stepped into the Cathedral, ‘Mummy! What is a Church?’
“The other, was finishing the evening with Sung Compline. This was the idea of Dave Stevens our new Master of Choristers. At 9.00pm we would draw everything to a close with this ancient office. I guessed before the evening started that we might get 20 people ‘who like that sort of thing’ to stay, while the Cathedral emptied.
“I could not have been more wrong. Not only did people stay (of the same eclectic mix that we had had all night) but hush fell and more than 300 people remained to listen to the chanted office and the old evening prayers – more than 50 others arrived late and were disappointed.
“Then, people filed away, we closed the great west doors and extinguishing the hundreds of candles people had lit, the Cathedral sank into silence and we went home through streets that remained buzzing with life.”