A real celebration of music in schools’ choir competition

Wednesday May 15th 2019

Catherine Murray, second from left, conductor of Harding Memorial Primary School Choir, which won the 2019 St Anne Trust Belfast Primary School Choir of the Year Award, along with two of the choir’s young members; adjudicator Richard Yarr; Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and Lord Mayor of Belfast Deirdre Hargey.

St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, was packed on Wednesday May 15 for the third annual St Anne Trust Belfast Primary School Choir of the Year Competition. Visit the PHOTO GALLERY.

Eight primary schools from different parts of Belfast all put on amazing performances, singing two songs each, giving this year’s adjudicator, BBC Art and Music Producer Richard Yarr, a very difficult task of selecting a winner.

It was an extremely close competition, with Harding Memorial Primary School taking first place, closely followed by last year’s winner Victoria College Preparatory School. In third place was Glenwood Primary School.

The Awards were presented by Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey and by Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and every school received a Certificate of Performance.

Welcoming the pupils, teachers and parents to the Cathedral for the competition, the Chairman of the St Anne Trust, Mr Joseph Watson, told the children: “The main thing is that today is a day to be enjoyed and remembered.”

ENTHUSIASM

The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, said: “You have come from eight different primary schools to fill this great Cathedral with your presence, your singing and your enthusiasm.

“I know that as pupils and teachers you have been practising for this for many weeks, and today your hard work will pay off. I want this to be a day you will remember long after you leave here.”

The Dean thanked the organising committee, the teachers and parents, the adjudicator and, most importantly, the children. “Without you there would be no competition and no music for us to enjoy,” he said.

The competition was once again supported by Belfast City Council, and this year also enjoyed sponsorship from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

As the competition got underway, the Lord Mayor told the children: “I hope you have a great morning displaying your musical talents, making friends which pupils from other schools and building your team within your own school. You never know where your performance could take you in years to come.”

DIVERSE

Lord Mayor Hargey added: “This is an excellent competition that brings together schools from diverse backgrounds in all four corners of our city.”

After all the choirs had performed, the 400 children, along with teachers and parents, were led in communal singing by Laura McFall of Opera NI.

Helping present the awards,  Ms McDonough said: “That was really inspiration and uplifting. I would like to thank all the boys and girls for the great gift of song.

“There is no finer event than this to hear children’s voices rise up as they did. You are all a credit to you schools. I hope you look back on this day with great fondness and a sense of joyful achievement.”

Announcing the winners, Mr Yarr said: “It has been an absolute joy to be here. It was a real celebration of music.

“The skills you learn in a choir are skills for life. I was once a chorister in this Cathedral, and in the choir I learned about team work, commitment, attention to detail, and confidence.”

GUESTS

Among the special guests who attended were Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle and Mr Richard Jay.

The competition ended with the singing of a blessing by Belfast Cathedral Board Member Mr Nick Pierpoint.

The St Anne Trust was established in 2016 to advance education and promote arts, culture and heritage by promoting good relations with and between young people and their families.

The Trust also hosts a ‘Come and Sing’ event at Belfast Cathedral for pupils from special schools, and this year Jordanstown School and Harberton Special School are taking part.

  • BBC Radio Ulster presenter John Anderson was recording performances and interviews at the choir competition for his programme ‘Sing Out’ scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday June 9 at 6.30pm.
  • Schools taking part were: Cliftonville Intregrated Primary School; Harding Memorial Primary School; Forge Integrated Primary School; Victoria College Preparatory School; Cranmore Integrated Primary School; Dunmurry Primary School; St Patrick’s Primary School; Glenwood Primary School; Jordanstown School; Harberton Special School.

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