Culture Night returns to Belfast on Friday September 18, with St Anne’s Cathedral hosting a range of events expected to draw literally thousands of people through its doors.
Based in and around Cathedral Quarter, Culture Night 2015 will see more than 200 events in more than 100 venues with and predicted 50,000 people flooding the area between 1-10pm.
In recent years, Choral Evensong at 5.30pm and Compline at 9pm in the Cathedral have been highlights of Culture Night, with hundreds of people stepping into the tranquillity of St Anne’s for these two moving services.
Activities in St Anne’s get underway at 1pm with the opening of an exhibition by local artist Mary Gilfillan in the Ambulatory.
Throughout the afternoon the Cathedral will be the stage for concerts by several singer songwriters, beginning with Irish Folk and Root singer Marc O’Reilly at 2pm; acoustic music from the Bad Hearts aka Paul Wilkinson and Edelle McMahon at 3pm and Amanda St John singing soul songs old and new from 4pm.
Opening at 2pm, and closing at 10pm Cisme, a hauntingly beautiful video installation by Jonny McEwen, can be viewed in St Anne’s Crypt. The Cathedral is also the venue for an exhibition of banners created with Open Arts, and ‘The WIMPS Blanket Fort’ – a Children in Need project – will offer visual arts and workshops in the Cathedral car park.
There is more music from 6.30pm with Songs of Peace and Freedom, featuring a range of international songs to inspire, and Songs for Feminism and Chocolate Cake at 7pm.
The Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra will fill the Cathedral with Big Band Music featuring swing, funk and pop – that concert kicks off at 8pm, before things quieten down with Sung Compline at 9pm.
The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, said: “Over the past few years Culture Night has been growing to the point that we now expect anything up to 10,000 through the Cathedral in the space of a few hours.
“We are pleased to offer the opportunity to young singer-songwriters to perform for those who come by to listen during the afternoon, and then in the evening larger musical ensembles will entertain us all.
“There is to be an exhibition of abstract art painted from a thoughtful Christian perspective in the Ambulatory and, in the Crypt, what I am told will be a beautiful and moving experience of projection and sound.”
Dean Mann said St Anne’s holds choral services on most days, but anticipated a much larger than usual attendance on Culture Night.
“Choral Evensong at 5.30pm is an act of worship that is timeless and a raising of the soul to God at the close of the day will bring us into the evening hours, when inevitably there will be noise and excitement in and around St Anne’s,” he said.
“At the end of the evening, we shall bring the Cathedral into complete silence for the chanting of Sung Compline. This ancient monastic late evening service is the monks’ last office before bed. It brings us to the peace and consolation of night after the rigours of the day, as we pray for protection through the hours of darkness.”
Six hundred people attended Compline last year making it an event not to be missed on this year’s Culture Night calendar!