The Priests go down a storm at launch of St Columb’s School of Music

The singing clerics, The Priests, brought the curtain down, metaphorically, on Saturday evening’s day of celebration marking the formal launch of St Columb’s School of Music in Londonderry. The school, at No. 1 St Columb’s Court, just off Bishop Street Within, was founded by Nicky Morton and Louis Fields, whose musical careers began as choristers in St Columb’s Cathedral.

The cathedral was an appropriate venue for two musical events which showcased young local talent alongside ‘big name’ performers to appreciative audiences who braved Storm Ciara to support the new venture.

The lunchtime concert saw the Foyle College Jazz Band perform with one of Ireland’s foremost jazz pianists, Scott Flanigan, on a specially erected stage at the front of the church.

Saturday evening’s gala was opened by the Thornhill College Chamber Choir, who won last year’s BBC Northern Ireland School Choir of the Year competition. They were followed by the renowned pianist Ruth McGinley, who performed a number of solo pieces, before accompanying the Derry-born tenor George Hutton, and finally The Priests on a number of sacred and popular pieces, as well as ballads.

Mr Fields and Mr Morton say the new school – which is self-funded – will give all young musicians in the local community the same opportunity they had to develop and pursue their art. The pair said St Columb’s School of Music was part of the legacy of UK City of Culture 2013. “This is a great time to be interested in music,” they said, “and an even better time to be learning it.”

The school already has a huge outreach programme and aims to provide a dynamic and supportive environment that can help young musicians to discover their talents and flourish.

(Photographs by Martin McKeown)