“I am the Organist & Master of Choristers at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. My music career goes all the way back to my childhood. I had the opportunity to tour the USA and Europe. I played in some of the most beautiful Cathedrals and Churches in the world, but by far the best thing about my job is to be able to work with children. They are still my greatest inspiration to keep going forward with my musical career. I truly enjoy being able to witness the musical transformations of these talented kids right in front of my eyes… I have never thought that the very essence of our presence in a choir could be ever removed from the equation; but like the way the words ‘lockdown’ and ‘COVID’ became buzz words in 2020, the word ‘latency’ became one of most commonly used words in the oldest choir school in Ireland. People complain their jobs had changed? Imagine leading a children’s choir over on Zoom. Chaos! But this was what became our reality. It was mostly a trial and error. Many times, if one person’s broadband was bad, it affected all the others. It was obviously very frustrating for everybody. I was so scared of losing my students… We had to adapt to a different approach. We broke up the classes into smaller groups and had realised that we don’t get as far with music as we usually do. Instead, we tried to keep the interactions going and tried to keep them interested. By the time of returning to school, we had only lost one student. All the choirs had really suffered all over the country and the world really…We are still in the recovery phase trying to adapt to this ‘new world’. Despite being able to keep almost all our students on board, recruiting and filling up classes is harder than ever. In regular schools, music is never too high on the priority list and studying music privately can be very expensive. With all the inflation, usually the piano or saxophone lessons are the first to be cut. For those talented individuals, the Choir is still here. For the kids who want to have the best education in music, the opportunity to hone their talents with first rate tuition on musical instruments and be able to do regular broadcasts, concerts, recordings and tours… We are still here!
This story was highlighted by Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
The Cathedral Choir School was founded in 1432, the oldest school in Ireland and the last remaining Choir School. You can find out more here: https://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/learn/choir-school/
You can see Stuart’s special Hallowe’en performance Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: After Dark, live in aid of @BUMBLEANCE, the children’s ambulance service.
or see the Cathedral Choir performing a seasonal sensation this December in Handel by Candle here: