Key Catholic Conductor and Composer Comes to Christchurch

Sunday 23 July saw singers from a number of our Christchurch parishes converge on St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.  Around 60 singers responded to an invitation from our Sacred Arts team to meet with Sir James MacMillan: a key Catholic composer and conductor from the UK with an international reputation.

A full choir gallery enjoyed an hour long rehearsal with Sir James at 4.00pm.  They rehearsed his St Anne Mass and then sang this congregational setting at a full 5.30pm Mass.  The Pro-Cathedral rang out to the sound of lilting Scottish melodies in a simple but beautiful setting of the Mass which had originally been composed for children.

The Cathedral Choir sang MacMillan’s Hymn to the Blessed Sacrament and the combined choir offered Mozart’s Ave Verum, composed for the feast of Corpus Christi.

Two of the famous Newman hymns framed the Mass.  They were chosen as Sir James MacMillan directed the music for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK in 2010 when he beatified Blessed John Henry Newman in Birmingham.  On that occasion, a choir of two thousand led a congregation of 50 thousand.

After the Mass, a larger group moved to the CBS Music Centre, adjacent to the Pro-Cathedral for conviviality and a presentation from Sir James on music, sacred and secular.  To sing under someone who is so respected internationally was a great honour.

To be led by someone for whom our Catholic faith is at the centre of his life, was an inspiration.  Here is a taste of the music from the Mass.  Sounds Catholic will cover the visit in more detail.