The St Anne Trust held its annual Primary Schools’ Choir Competition in Belfast Cathedral on May 16 and 17 – the first in three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the first day, the choirs of two special schools, Jordanstown School and Harberton School, attended the Cathedral for a Come & Sing event, taking part in a workshop led by music facilitator Anne McCambridge with Lorraine Stanley providing accompaniment on the piano.
There was singing, games, instruments, lots of movement and no end of fun, evidenced in the smiles and laughter of the children taking part.
After a refreshment break, the choirs performed their chosen numbers, their voices accompanied by some wonderful movement and, in the case of Jordanstown School, the words of the song conveyed in sign language. Before leaving, they had a chance to hear the mighty Cathedral organ, played by Master of Music Jack Wilson, and some of the children even had the opportunity to play some notes themselves!
On the second day, members of the choirs of Cliftonville Integrated Primary School, Glenwood Primary School, St Patrick’s Primary School, Holywood, Harding Memorial Integrated Primary School and Victoria College Preparatory School filled the Nave of the Cathedral, along with teachers, parents and friends.
The competition adjudicator was Father Eugene O’Hagan, one of the internationally renowned classical music singing trio The Priests. Special guest was the High Sheriff of Belfast, Councillor John Kyle.
On both days the children and all present were welcomed by Mr Joe Watson, Chairman of the St Anne Trust, and the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde.
The standard of entries from all five schools was very high, and every child was a credit to their school and to their family. Each school sang two songs, and Fr Eugene had the unenviable task of deciding on a winner.
While he was reviewing his notes, facilitator Anne McCambridge led the children in communal singing, filling the Cathedral with music and movement.
Councillor Kyle said it had been a wonderful morning. To the choirs, he said: “Your singing has been inspiring in such wonderful surroundings. It has been a delight to watch your expressions and see your enthusiasm. Singing is so good for your health and confidence.”
Before announcing the results, Fr Eugene gave a very positive summary of each schools’ performance, praising the children for their ‘smiling faces, lovely uniforms and glorious singing.’
“In today’s world, it is wonderful to be able to listen to some wonderful music,” he said. “You cannot go out and buy a voice in the shops. It is important if you have a beautiful voice that you use it and enjoy it and you will light up somebody else’s life.”
Highly commended prizes were awarded to Harding Memorial Integrated and Cliftonville Integrated Primary Schools, with St Patrick’s, Holywood, taking third place, Glenwood Primary School coming second, and Victoria College Preparatory School named the St Anne Trust Primary School Choir of the Year 2023.