The Parish Choir, singer, Julie Feeney and the Mayor of Galway Cllr.Hildegarde Naughton
A new Schola Cantorum was launched last night in St Nicholas Collegiate Church. The new musical school reestablishes the ancient college of singing priests which was first established in the church in 1486 to sing the daily services and to educate boy choirsters to sing with them. The three aims of the Schola Cantorum are to enrich worship, educate singers and promote the arts. I was alerted to the launch by the following tweet from Julie Feeney who was heading to St Nicholas for the launch having just returned home after a hugely successful two week run in the Irish Arts Center in New York.
The St Nicholas Parish Choir perform at the launch
St Nicholas Parish choir led by Mark Duley the Director of the Schola Cantorum, organist of St Nicholas and well know choral director started proceedings by singing two wonderful liturgical pieces.
The dean of Arts, NUIG, Dr. Edward Herring, Singer, Julie Feeney, Director of the Schola Cantorum, Mark Duley, Rector of St Nicholas, Archdeacon Gary Hastings and Mayor of Galway Cllr. Hildegarde Naughton.
The Rector of St Nicholas Church Archdeacon Gary Hastings then welcomed the invited guests to the launch and introduced The Mayor of Galway Hildegard Naughton who bestowed best wishes on the new school on behalf of the people of Galway. Mark Duley then gave an overview of what exactly the Schola Cantorum will be and what he and the steering group hope to achieve. The aims of the project will be fulfilled through four ensembles; three new ensembles and the existing parish choir. They will all be based in the church but will reach out to all the people of Galway through education programmes and most importantly through their music. The new ensembles will include Choristers, made up of children between the ages of 8 – 14 drawn from St Nicholas Parochial School and the wider community, a 20 strong group of Choral Scholars from NUIG and the St Nicholas Singers a large all comers group drawn from the city and county.
There will be a new link with NUIG through the establishment of the Choral Scholars and the Dean of Arts Dr. Edward Herring gave a short explanation of this link and explained how delighted the college was to play a part in the new initiative. The college are striving to strengthen links with the wider Galway community and to give students the opportunity to achieve an all round education. The establishment of the Choral Scholars is a new and welcome element of that plan.
Julie Feeney was then welcomed by Mark Duley and invited to perform and to say a few words. Julie wowed the assembled crowd with an unaccompanied, unplugged version of her beautiful song ‘Impossibly Beautiful’ which sounded spectacular as she walked through the crowd and the special acoustics of St Nicholas embellished the wonderful performance. Julie as a Galway native and someone with an impressive choral background was delighted to show her support for the launch of this great new initiative which will continue to place St Nicholas Church at the heart of the spiritual and cultural life of Galway.
Julie Feeney and Mark Duley
I had the pleasure of chatting with Julie Feeney and Mark Duley after the launch. Julie explains why she was there and is so supportive of the initiative and Mark explained his vision of what the new Schola Cantorum will offer.
Some more photos from the launch are available over on Flickr
To support the new initiative you can become a Companion of the St Nicholas Schola Cantorum by filling out a donation form on the back of the promotional leaflets which are available in the church.