The Choir of Down Cathedral
Music is a large part of the life of the Cathedral. The building houses one of the finest organs in Ireland and, to compliment this, choral music has always played a very important part in leading the worship.
Currently there is a very enthusiastic four part choir consisting of adults and young people. A wide variety of musical styles are performed both as service settings and anthems. The singing of Anglican Chant has also been maintained for the Psalms and Canticles. Also, each year on the Monday of Holy Week the choir gives a performance of a larger scale choral work assisted by members from other local choirs.
One of the highlights of the year is the Service of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve. This is usually attended by in excess of five hundred people from the local community and beyond.
A Junior Choir also exists, joining in the regular Sunday services with seniors and sometimes performing pieces on its own.
Rehearsals are held on Tuesday evenings and Sunday morning before the service. The Organist would be delighted to hear from anyone wishing to join the choir. There is such a great heritage and choral tradition to be maintained in Down Cathedral that help from anyone who has a singing voice and a level of commitment to God’s work would be much appreciated.
Contact Michael McCraken on 028 4461 4516 or 07773 846028.
Perhaps the most striking feature as you enter the cathedral is the pulpitum, topped by the magnificent organ whose pipes reach almost to the vaulted roof. The organ, acknowledged to be one of the finest in Ireland with its magnificent oak case, was built by William Hull in 1818, considerably altered by William Telford in 1854, rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison in 1912 and again by the same firm in 1966.
Fanfare (Jacques Lemmes) (2:54) – performed by Michael McCracken
A Prayer of St. Patrick (John Rutter) (1:52) – performed by the Cathedral Choir and Cadenza
Director of Music: Michael McCracken
Michael McCracken started his musical training at the age of eight as a chorister in the Choir of St Mark’s, Dundela, Belfast. At the age of sixteen he took up his first orga/choir appointment at St Martin’s Church in east Belfast. He studied piano, singing and flute at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow. Teacher training followed at Moray House in Edinburgh alongside singing as a Lay Clerk in the Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral and the study of organ with the late Dr Dennis Townhill OBE.
After serving as head of music in Wallace Hight School, Lisburn for eight years and other church appointments, Michael decided to go freelance in 1986. His private teaching work now consists of piano, organ and singing. Other facets of his musical life include adjudicating, composing, arranging, accompanying and running choral workshops. He broadcasts frequently on BBC television and radio both locally and nationally. One of the largest concert events he has ever organised was the bringing of celebrated composer John Rutter to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall in September 2010.
Michael’s interests outside music include flying and photography.