The Chapel Choir of the Methodist College Belfast – an institutional known as “Methody” – is being represented at the Coronation of King Charles III and the Queen Consort Camilla. Some of its choristers were chosen to sing at this historical event. The Chapel Choir is the busiest of 5 choirs in Methody. It concentrates mainly on liturgical music and has established a strong reputation through frequent radio and television broadcasts. For instanvce, the Chapel Choir will provide the music morning service on Radio 4 on ST Patrick’s Day and for this year’s Easter Sunday RTE TV morning service. The choir has sung in various English Cathedrals and in 2016 returned to Westminster Abbey for its eleventh residency in recent years.
Under Ruth McCartney MBE, the Choir has been Songs of Praise Senior School Choir of the Year, UTV Grammar School Choir of the Year and RTE All Island School Choir of the Year. Methody regularly produces both organ and choral scholars for Oxbridge Colleges and Cathedrals. Although regular recitals and concerts are seen as important, the choir fulfils an important role in the spiritual life of the Methodist College community. In addition to annual events such as Carol Services and Prize Distributions, the choir provides music at weddings, funerals and memorial services in the college’s Chapel of Unity.
The choir often joins with the College’s Senior Choir to perform large-scale choral works with the College Orchestra in performances of Schubert’s Mass in G, Rutter’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Stopford’s Missa Deus Nobiscum (commissioned by Methody to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the College) and, on March 8th, the Irish première of Howard Goodall’s Unconditional Love, in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. The Chapel Choir has visited the USA three times in the last eight years. In October 2010 they went on a 3-centre tour with the Girls Choir and Irish traditional Group to New York, Washington and Philadelphia, while 24 members of the Chapel Choir sang in the US première of Karl Jenkins’ Gloria in Carnegie Hall in 2011. In 2015, the choir returned to Carnegie Hall to perform in the US première of Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light Requiem. The Choir has raised over £35,000 for Bowel Cancer NI by providing music for their annual Christmas concert in Stormont each year. Royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, picked a performance of Danny Boy, as one of his Desert Island Discs choices, after hearing the choir singing it for the Queen at a concert in Dublin to celebrate her visit to the city.
Methodist College Belfast, or Methody as the school is affectionately known, is situated on the South side of Belfast opposite Queen’s University and the city’s Botanic Gardens. The College comprises a grammar school of 1810 pupils aged 11-18 and a Pre-school and Preparatory Department that provides an excellent educational experience for over 300 pupils. When Methody first opened on the 18th August 1868, it was reported as being ‘a most important step in the progress of education in Ireland’. In the intervening century and a half, the College has grown, expanded, adapted, innovated and flourished. Today it is a school renowned for the opportunities it provides for its pupils, the diversity of its community and the excellent all-round education that it provides. For more information, visit the school website: www.methody.org