Belfast Cathedral’s Joseph themed Music Summer School was a huge success, with 60 children stepping into the amazing space of St Anne’s Cathedral to sing, make music, and have fun.
The summer school ran from August 16-20, concluding with a fantastic in-person concert for family and friends. Precautions against Covid-19 ensured a safe week for everyone involved.
The scheme was organised by directors India Chapman Webb and Alison Darragh, and musical director Matthew Owens who is Director of Music at St Anne’s. They were supported by Lorraine Stanley, course accompanist and music tutor; Ethan Darby, music tutor; and group leaders Eibhlin Eddy, Donna Johnston, Susie Hunter, Katie Lyons, Garbhan McEnoy, Tania Murphy, Valerie Prosser and Adam Reaney.
Seasoned singer/actor Caolan Keaveney played the role of Joseph, and the project had the backing of the City of Belfast School of Music; Belfast Philharmonic Choirs; the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra; NI Opera; and the Ulster Orchestra, whose members Richard Ashmore, Rozzie Curlett and Tanya Houghton gave instrumental demonstrations to the children during the week.
Director Alison Darragh said:
“The children were amazing and so happy to be doing something different. Some of them really hadn’t sung for a good year and a half.
“They enjoyed daily sessions from members of the Ulster Orchestra, made Joseph’s Coat from felt squares, did canvas paintings and even had a mini Olympics.”
Day four’s activity was a trip to historic Clifton House, where the children had the opportunity to sing outside the windows much to the enjoyment of the home’s residents.
During the course of the week, the children worked on their performance of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and also learned a number of other pieces including an Irish Blessing, Chumbara and Circle of Life.
“On Friday evening they sang the whole concert off copy which was really great as they were able to engage so much more with the conductor this way,” Alison said.
“The concert was a great event. Parents, siblings and other family members joined the Dean, the Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast and sponsors for vocal warm-ups, which was great fun. The feedback we have had has been extraordinary. I think it lifted the spirits of everyone and the cathedral was festooned with balloons and art work and looked really lovely.”
The children received video messages from Jason Donovan, who previously played the title role of Joseph in the West End, and actress Maria Friedman, and they all took home a certificate signed by the musical’s renowned composer, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wished them all the best for their performance.
The organisers expressed special thanks to others who supported the summer school including Dean Stephen Forde and the cathedral staff; Tesco, Newtownbreda, whose community champion Arnette was a huge help; Confetti, Belfast for the balloon display; Gwyneth Cockcroft and Jackson Greens for the treats; cathedral members David and Helen Alexander for sorting the refreshment breaks; and Connor Diocese’s own Children’s Ministry Development Officer Victoria Jackson.
Our gallery below gives a flavour of what was a very colourful week in Belfast Cathedral!