North Cathedral Bicentenary Exhibition

Cathedral Choir

2. Alois Fleischmann

10. Letter written by Alois Fleischmann, 1947

The choir has been central to the story of the North Cathedral for well over a century.

1. Hans Conrad Swertz 1879

Leopold de Prins, from Belgium, became organist in the Cathedral in 1870. De Prins soon developed a highly respected choir, which primarily sang plain chant, and he remained in the position until 1889 when he was succeeded by a German, Hans Swertz. Swertz had been organist of St. Vincent’s Church in Sundays Well from 1879. The Cathedral Choir was at that stage a male/female mix. In 1903 Pope Pius X reformed church music which excluded women from church choirs altogether. Swertz resigned in protest and in 1906 moved to the USA. Meanwhile, his daughter Tilly had married a talented young organist from Dachau in Germany named Aloys Fleischmann (born 1880). Tilly, herself an accomplished pianist, persuaded Aloys to apply for the Cathedral post vacated by her father. Fortunately Aloys’ application was accepted, and so began his long and distinguished service to choral music in Cork.

3. Cathedral Choir – circa 1940’s

Fleischmann immediately founded a boys choir to accompany the men, and expanded the range and style of music being sung and played in the Cathedral. 16th and 17th Century Polyphonic and Gregorian chant were now used extensively. Herr Fleischmann played for the requiem mass for Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, who died on hunger strike in 1920. In 1922 an impressive new organ was installed in the church, further enhancing the sound. By now the reputation of the choir had grown, and the 100 strong membership of 60 men and 40 boys gave numerous performances. As well as regular Sunday Mass, Confraternities and the annual Corpus Christi procession, the choir sang on Irish radio and on the BBC World Service. English composer, Sir Arnold Bax, heard the choir in 1929 and gave rave reviews.

4. Fleischmann Choir – 1929

Aloys Fleischmann, who received a papal medal in 1954, died in January 1964.

5. Choir 1970’s with conductor Ned Evans

He was succeeded as choir master by Ned Evans

In the 1980’s, the choir came full circle and returned to a mixed gender status. To this day the choir admirably continues the rich tradition of sacred music in the North Cathedral under the direction of conductor Ann Roche and organist Joe Higgins. The choir sang at the 1996 rededication of the renovated Cathedral and in 1999 they sang at the requiem mass for former taoiseach Jack Lynch.

6. Mixed choir – c. 1940’s

8. Boys choir – c. 1920’s

11. Special Mass, listing members of the Choir, 1924

7. Fleischmann conducting choir

12. Choir, c.1960s or 1970s

9. 2008 choir with Ann Roche conductor

Powered by