Top Scottish composer to revive Edinburgh cathedral after 'dreadful Covid experience'

An Edinburgh cathedral is returning to music in style, announcing a top Scottish composer as its new patron of music.

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Sir James MacMillan has been taken onboard to help St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral re-establish its musical tradition after a “dreadful covid experience”, during which choirs and congregational singing were prohibited in places of worship.

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Sir James said he was “delighted” to become patron in the cathedral which inspired his career as a musician.

Sir James is backing St Mary's Cathedral as a patron

“There was something about attending Mass here, even as a little boy, that sticks very much in my mind,” he said.

“There were these rituals and images from far away, but it was associated with the most glorious sound, and the sound was the choir of St Mary’s Cathedral.

He added: “My instinct is that the secular and sacred are inextricably connected, and that for me my journey as a composer began in those distant snatches of Gregorian chant and Palestrina motets which floated down from the sanctuary of St Mary’s in the mid-1960s.”

St Mary's Cathedral has a musical tradition.

MacMillan is Scotland’s most successful living composer and was knighted at the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2015.

Michael Ferguson, Director of Music at the Cathedral, said: “Our musical life was flourishing before the pandemic hit.

“Now that the restrictions are finally lifting, we’re delighted that Sir James is supporting us as our singers, musicians and congregations spring into life once more.”

Monsignor Patrick Burke, Cathedral administrator, said: “The extraordinary musical tradition that exists here goes back about a century and a half and we’re really honoured that Sir James has agreed to help safeguard its future .”

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