"I like to follow the best in choral music and in sacred music and Cappella Caeciliana combine those two perfectly." - Most Rev. Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh
Cappella Caeciliana was founded on the feast of St Cecilia in 1995 and we have sung liturgies and concerts all over Northern Ireland, and have performed in Scotland, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria and the USA (including singing in the National Cathedral).
The founder conductor was Bob Leonard who was succeeded in 1999 by Donal McCrisken. Donal retired from the choir in November 2021 after 23 very successful years. Matthew Quinn was appointed as his successor in January 2022.
We have appeared on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio Ulster, BBC TV, RTÉ and ITV. We've performed works by Handel, Fauré and Elaine Agnew with the Ulster Orchestra and recently shared the bill with Andrea Bocelli at the SSE Arena, Belfast. During Covid-19 restrictions, Cappella undertook many ‘virtual’ activities, including sessions with stars such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Wynne Evans, and also made a highly regarded video recording (above) of Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium. Most recently we presented a very innovative performance of Bach’s St John Passion in Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol to great acclaim. We have increasingly been exploring the music of contemporary figures such as John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, Eric Whitacre and are also proud to have performed music by many local composers. We have presented many commissions, including Ut omnes unum sint composed by Sir James MacMillan for the choir’s 20th anniversary, with a section for founder members The Priests, whose world and Irish premieres and CD recording were all conducted by the composer.
We pride ourselves on our reach and, rather than using a small number of venues repeatedly, we have performed in a total of 120 venues.
We have made five CD recordings, which can be previewed here and bought online here. Individual tracks can be downloaded here.
We have increasingly been exploring the music of outstanding contemporary figures such as John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre and James MacMillan. We commissioned Exsultet by Neil Martin (recorded on our CD Reflecting Light) and have premiered works by Elaine Agnew, Ian Wilson and Philip Hammond.
We have also extended our activities to collaborate with other artists, for example providing the live music element in Carlos Acosta’s ‘Premieres Plus’ at the 2011 Belfast Festival at Queens. In September 2013 we sang in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall for the Diocese of Down and Connor’s Living Faith Congress where we were joined by founder members of the choir, The Priests, who continue to support Cappella’s many and varied activities.
For our 20th anniversary season in 2015-2016 we commissioned James MacMillan to write Ut omnes unum sint for the choir, with a trio section for The Priests, which received its first performance in Edinburgh on 21st November 2015 and Irish premiere in Belfast on 12th March 2016, both conducted by the composer.
A further highlight was a special concert on Palm Sunday 2017 in Armagh conducted by Eamonn Dougan, featuring the Fauré Requiem and the Irish premiere of Stabat Mater by Alissa Firsova.
Our 2019-2020 season was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic. This included cancellation of our planned tour to Poland at Easter 2020. However, despite the pandemic, we had the best possible celebrations for our 25th anniversary season in 2020-2021 - see here for more details.
We resumed regular rehearsals in September 2021, and this was followed by Donal McCrisken's farewell concert in November 2021 and Matthew Quinn's first concert in April 2022. In September 2022 we performed with Andrea Bocelli in the SSE Arena Belfast.
We have recently filled vacancies in all four voice parts. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a member when we next have vacancies. Admission is subject to audition and good sightreading ability is essential. We rehearse most Sundays (7pm to 9pm) from September to June in South Belfast.
Media enquiries - we have a media pack available, including high quality (WAV) downloads of all tracks, and high resolution photographs. Please contact us via this site, or on +44 7803 018891.
Cappella Caeciliana is registered as a charity with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (reference NIC100255) and is accepted as a charity by HM Revenue & Customs (reference XR75541). You can support our work by making a credit or debit card donation through CAF or PayPal and if you are a UK taxpayer we will in addition be able to reclaim tax through the Gift Aid scheme.