Choral music has always played a significant and central role at Belfast Cathedral, since its consecration in 1904 when there was a cathedral choir of forty-eight voices (ladies, gentlemen, and twenty-four boy choristers). Since then, the choir has undergone various transformations, most latterly in the late summer of 2019, when it became an all-adult, fully professional vocal ensemble.
This ‘new’ cathedral choir brings together some of the finest singers in Northern Ireland who lead the liturgy and worship of Belfast Cathedral, known locally as ‘St Anne’s’. Under the direction of Matthew Owens, who took up the post of Director of Music in September 2019, the choir has performed a wide and diverse range of works from the Mediaeval period through to the present day, including world premiere performances of works by Judith Bingham, the late John Joubert, and Philip Stopford.
A number of world premiere performances of newly composed works for the Cranmer Anthem Book are scheduled from the autumn 2021 to the summer of 2022, by Richard Allain, Luke Bedford, Michael Berkeley, Richard Causton, Naji Hakim, Gabriel Jackson, Philip Moore, and Philip Stopford. In addition, Howard Skempton began as Belfast Cathedral’s first ever Composer-in-Association, in September 2021.
Under Owens the cathedral choir has broadcast (live and recorded) on both BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Ulster. The choir now records exclusively for Resonus Classics.