History made with first official girls’ choir at historic St. Columb’s

A wee bit of history was made when recruitment got underway to what is believed the first ever official girls’ choir at the oldest purpose-built Protestant cathedral in Europe.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 5th August 2022, 3:33 pm

Several young choristers have already signed up for the exciting initiative at Derry’s historic St. Columb’s Cathedral.

The ground-breaking endeavour is being managed by assistant organist Nicky Morton, who is also one of the founders of the St. Columb’s School of Music.

Nicky told the ‘Journal’ he hopes the move will provide young musicians with the opportunity to develop their potential and he stressed that it is open to people of all faith backgrounds.

Robyn-Emily McGonigle, Lily McMackin, Emily Huey, aged eight and fourteen years old Victoria Slomkowska who are among the first young people to join St.Columbâ€TMs Cathedralâ€TMs new Girls Choir in Derry-Londonderry. The new choir for 7-16 years old begins rehearsals in September. This will provide an exciting opportunity for young musicians to develop their potential and is open to people of all faith backgrounds – not just the Church of Ireland.The Cathedral will continue to maintain a Boysâ€TM Choir, and the new Girlsâ€TM Choir will play its own part in the schedule of services. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.22

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Nine photos of first recruits to historic St. Columb's Cathedral girls' choir

Nicky is delighted to be following the example of many cathedrals across Ireland and Britain in establishing a new tradition of girls’ choirs.

“It’s the first official launch of a girls’ choir. For years we’ve had boy choristers due to the nature of the tradition of the cathedral.

“We thought, given it’s 2022, and a lot of parents have been asking us - ‘have you nothing for girls?’ - it was time to start the choir,” he said.

Derry’s Féile to celebrate 30 yearsNicky, of course, is steeped in the St. Columb’s tradition. His father Rev. William Morton, served as Dean of the cathedral for years, before moving to Dublin in 2016, from which date he has been Dean of St. Patrick’s, the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland.

A centre of music, St. Patrick’s has provided some inspiration. “Five or six years ago we first talked about it. We took inspiration from cathedrals across the UK and Ireland. My dad’s actually the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. They already have a functioning girls’ choir in St. Patrick’s so that wasn’t too difficult to research!” added Nicky.

Carnival of Colours circus, arts and music festival in Derry next weekendAlthough the choir was only announced on Tuesday, by Wednesday it had 11 recruits with only 30 places to fill.

“Derry has always been known for its music. It’s the city of song and we’re hoping the girls choir will be a roaring success,” said Nicky.

To get involved contact www.stcolumbsschoolofmusic.com. It is open to girls aged between 7-16.