An Ex Lay Vicar Choral

Yesterday saw me hang up my choir robes for the last time, as I “retired” from the choir of Christ Church Cathedral.

I first joined the choir in 2007, and in the intervening 8 years I’ve had the privilege to be involved in very exciting things: TV and radio broadcasts, tours, ordinations, consecrations, enthronements, presidential visits, ecumenical services, concerts, and carol services.  I’ve sung in more services than I can count, with some amazing singers and talented musicians.

It’s been a great experience which will leave me with treasured memories and lifelong friendships.

However, all good things must come to an end. A while ago I came to the decision that I wanted to lessen my commitments. The choir takes up Thursday evening, and all day on Sunday – which is quite a lot of time, on top of a full-time job. I’m also concious that being in the choir restricts what we can plan to do as a couple on weekends and special occasions such as Christmas.

So, I’m taking a break from singing. It might be for a short time. It might be for a long time.  I don’t know how I’ll feel in 6 or 12 months time, but for now I’m looking forward to enjoying the extra free time.

Christmas carols coming out of my ears!

Had a very successful and enjoyable Christmas carol concert at Christ Church Cathedral last night with the cathedral choir. The concert sold-out several weeks back, and I’m reliably informed by someone “in the know” that we could have sold the concert three times over! Those who did get a ticket were treated to a very nicely balanced programme of carols, topped off by a rousing rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

I’m also back in Christ Church on Saturday night with the Mornington Singers for another carol concert called Noël. That’s also selling well, although there are a few tickets left. The Morningtons were also out singing carols last night in Phibsborough, by all accounts to a delighted crowd.

Then on Sunday the cathedral has it’s service of Five Lessons and Carols, a slightly shorter version of the fully carol service. The full diocesan Nine Lessons and Carols is on Monday, but that’s a ticket-only affair, and I suspect they’re all gone!

And so, as you can imagine, I’ve got Christmas carols coming out of my ears at the moment. But do you know what, I don’t care, because they’re great fun to sing – and really help me get into the festive holiday spirit.

Ten Weeks

I finally decided just before Easter that I was going to hand in my notice at the cathedral choir. I’m now working out my notice, and I finish at the end of term in 10 weeks time.

There’s a myriad of reasons that sit behind my decision, but if you boil it down, I’ve just had enough. I’ve been at Christ Church for just over two years now, and it’s a very demanding role. And with an equally demanding day job, something had to give eventually. And so, in the middle of July I’ll be bidding a fond farewell to the choir – although I suspect I may be back from time to time to dep.

For the time being, I’m not planning on leaving Dublin or changing anything else in my life. And I’ve not yet lined up any other singing opportunity – but I guess there’s lots of time to find something, perhaps after the summer. And in the mean time, I’m looking forward to reclaiming my weekends, and finding out what ‘normal’ people do on their Sundays.

Half Term

There’s nothing happening on the musical front this week, as the cathedral choir are on a half-term break. We get a week’s holiday in the middle of every term, which is a welcome rest – especially this term, after a very busy Trinity Sunday (our patronal festival) weekend.

Last Friday we performed our annual summer concert called Let All The World In Every Corner Sing to a modest but appreciative audience. And then at evensong on Sunday we sang the world premier of Laus Trinitati, a piece specially commissioned from the famous organist and composer David Briggs.

A fair number of the music department seem to have taken this opportunity to get away for a few days, but I’ve still got my day job to go to, so I’m still in Dublin. However, I do have an excess of free time available on evenings and at the weekend, which is a novelty.

Auditionees

Over the last couple of weeks, there’s been quite a few auditionees visiting Dublin and spending some time with the cathedral choir. It’s great to see that the Gap Year Scheme has yielded such a large amount of interest, and we certainly have found several really good singers for next year.

It’s just a shame that we can’t take everyone. When people visit – especially those coming over from England for a weekend – we generally try to look after them, and show them a ‘good time’. As well as the audition itself with our director of music, the auditionees will generally be asked to sing with the rest of the choir in some of the weekend’s services. And we generally take people out to the pub after evensong, and also out to lunch on Sunday.

This time spent with the choir is great for assessing whether a person will ‘fit in’ with everyone – as well as, hopefully, giving the auditionees a flavour of life in Dublin. They also get to ask questions about what we do, and start to get to know people.

The problem comes, however, when you start to make friends with some of these people; not knowing whether or not they’ll actually take up a place in the choir. With any group of people, there’ll always be one or two that you naturally gravitate too, and get to like. But they might not be the ones who get offered a place – and conversely, they might get offer a place, but decide not to join.

In the last 2 weeks we’ve seen 9 auditionees, and have a few more still to go. And I guess only time will tell which of them will end up joining the choir in September.

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