Music and Arts

Music

Music has always been at the heart of Christian worship.  Although we are told that the disciples sang hymns (Mark 14.26), by the 4th century music was well established during services.  At St Nick’s our worship on Sunday mornings uses congregational settings for the Eucharist, and our hymnody is drawn from across the centuries.

Our professional choir, the St Nicholas Singers, sings our monthly choral service (usually Choral Evensong) at 6pm on the first Sunday of every month, as well as at weddings and many of our civic, business and military services.  The St Nicholas Singers is a quintet of professional musicians formed in 1985 to provide occasional choral music at Liverpool Parish Church.  Led by their Director, Stuart Keen, they have performed in many different contexts, including Radio Four’s daily service and also BBC Songs of Praise.

St. Nicholas Singers

Since 2012, the Organist at St Nick’s has been Dr Jim Wrightson.  Long service has been a distinctive characteristic of his predecessors: since the start of the 20th century there were only 3 organists (Charles Bridson, Harry Weatherall and Derek Sadler), each serving for periods of up to 47 years!  

We regularly work with other choirs and ensembles to enable worship through music.  St Nick’s has been the base for The Oriel Singers (http://www.orielsingers.co.uk/)  since their formation in 1977 and they occasionally sing at the Parish Eucharist on Sundays. 

Liverpool Bach Collective
The Liverpool Bach Collective (https://www.facebook.com/liverpoolbachcollective/, and LBC's new website) has come to St Nick’s a number of times to perform Bach cantatas in the context of worship.  In March 2019 they will return for a second performance of the St John Passion with the soloist Nicholas Mulroy (http://nicholasmulroy.com/) as the Evangelist. 

Since 2018 we have been the home of the main orchestra for the charity Early Music as Education (http://www.emae.co.uk/) which trains young people from diverse backgrounds in the performance of baroque music. Throughout the year they perform a number of concerts both in St Nick’s and across the country, as well as an annual residence in a European City.

A short video of a recent performance by the orchestra can be found here.

Throughout the year we host a number of other concerts and performances, especially from the Italian Opera Company (http://www.liverpoolitalianopera.co.uk/).

Music at St Nick’s is usually accompanied on our 1952 Rushworth & Dreaper organ.  We are most fortunate to be the home of a 9’ Bösendorfer ‘Imperial’ Concert Grand Piano, and also regularly use our Bechstein Grand Piano.

Jim Wrightson

Visual Arts

Various forms of art are represented at St Nick’s, each of them drawing us into worship of God through beauty or religious iconography.  Around the church building you will see a number of different styles, and the walls of the Parish Centre are lined with prints and paintings showing the church throughout the centuries. Maritime Sculpture

Our most traditional artistic features are the two Romanian icons in the Nave.  On the south side is an image of Our Lady, and on the north of St Nicholas.  The largest piece in the church is Arthur Dooley’s (1929-94) sculpture of Our Lady of the Quay in the Maritime Chapel, which is reminiscent of the first Chapel built on this site in the 13th century.  There is a smaller work by Dooley in the Sacristy called Easter Lily, depicting the Virgin and Child.  Also in the Sacristy is a baptism bowl and ewer by the renowned ceramic artist Julia Carter Preston (1926-2012), and there is another of her works displayed in the Refectory.

 

Icon Crucifix
Behind the altar is an icon of the crucifixion painted by the Romanian icon-writer Tatiana Nichita and blessed by the Archbishop of York on Ash Wednesday (6 March) 2019 on his visit to the Parish Church. The icon was given in memory of PC Neil Doyle.
The image shows the traditional themes of this icon, including the sun and moon (darkness covers the earth at the time of Jesus’ death - Matthew 27.45), and writing proclaiming Jesus Christ as the King of Glory. Beneath his feet we see the skull of Adam, the first to sin, but the broken stone of the tomb shows that the cross overcomes sin and death (cf Romans 5.17).

You can see more of Tatiana’s icons here.

 

Cattrall Screen
The Cattrall Screens (installed in 1984 in memory of Harvey Cattrall) separate the Narthex from the Nave.  They were engraved to the designs of David Peace, whose work is also found in Westminster Abbey.  The engravings are rich in symbols connected with the Church, and are designed to give a striking view of the hanging Rood through the plain glass chalice on the central doors.

 

Grail BoatBy the Garden door in the Nave is a wooden sculpture by Greg Tricker (b.1951) called the Grail Boat. The legend of the Grail is that the Christ Journey ends with a journey, the journey of Joseph of Arimathea with the Grail to Britain.  With him on this small boat, miraculously moved through the waters by a presiding angel, are other friends of Jesus, in particular Mary Magdalene.  The sculpture is on long-term loan from a local businessman.

 

New FontThe vision for a new font has developed over some time as part of a wider scheme to redevelop the Narthex. The PCC realised that we need a versatile font for a versatile building. The design by David Wilson of Dovetailors of Leeds is derivative of one which they built for Christ the King, Battyeford, W. Yorkshire, and the bowl is carved from a block of York stone. The stained glass panels were designed and made by the Liverpool-based artist, Katharine Bayes. The three panels represent Creation (the Father in the Trinity), Fire - representing the passion of Christ (but it could also be the Holy Spirit!), and the Waterfall (Holy Spirit in the Trinity). The font was blessed by the Bishop of Liverpool on the Feast of Candlemas 2019.

 

Blitz Memorial



In the Church Gardens Tom Murphy’s Blitz Memorial sculpture sits by the wall overlooking the Strand.  This image of a family caught in the Blitz is a reminder of the suffering of the Blitz.  In 2018 another sculpture will be installed in the Gardens by Tony Evans to commemorate the sinking of the MV Derbyshire in 1980.

You can read more about the scupltures and other memorials in the Gardens here.

 

In 2017 we launched an exciting new artistic project. In collaboration with dot-art (http://dot-art.co.uk/) and the Liverpool BID Company (http://www.liverpoolbidcompany.com/) we are holding an annual competition to use an empty plinth above Chapel Street for short term installations to animate and area which connects the Pier Head with the city’s commercial district.

 

Split Decision The current sculpture was unveiled in June 2019. Called Split Decision, it is 4.5 metre, multicoloured, minimalist structure by artist Sam Shendi. There is more information about the artist and his work here. Sam writes about Split Decision: “This particular work expresses the difficulty in making a decision when you are in a depressed state. It represents the fear of taking a direction or making a choice. The colours represent emotions; for example, red being anger or sexuality, green for hope and innocence, pink for childhood and sweetness. The central figure is black and blue, referencing the expression 'black and blue' for pain. In this confusion we feel this pain, black and blue, unaware of the bright side of the options or opportunities that lie before us in either direction, represented by the legs stretched out and the colours presenting those opportunities.”

Gold Lame

 

The previous sculpture was unveiled in June 2018. Gold Lamé is a striking sculpture that challenges the perceptions of disability in society. The installation was by disabled sculptor and artist Tony Heaton.