James (and Bart) land a new role in church

James and Bart
James and Bart

Music student James Cunningham may be only 20 but he has just been appointed organist and choirmaster at Armagh Road Presbyterian Church.

James, who is registered blind, is filling the position left by Rodney Spence, who retired in August after 27 years.

James and Bart in Belfast.

James and Bart in Belfast.

The Queen’s University student, who is in his final year of a Bachelor of Music degree, is responsible for a range of events every Sunday, starting in the morning with the choir rehearsal and continuing with the morning and evening services.

He not only puts the choir through their paces - pointing out that they don’t need much direction - but also plays the organ and piano, and can turn his hand to a range of other instruments.

“I did a solo clarinet at the harvest evening service, just for a bit of variety,” he said. “And if someone wants an organist for a wedding or funeral I will be doing that as well.”

Guide dog Bart, meanwhile, takes it all in his stride and has a cosy bed by the church organ. “There were a lot of flowers and fruit at the harvest service and he was very interested in what was going on!” said James.

For the second year in a row, James has also taken on the role of musical director for the Gateway Theatre’s pantomime ‘Goldilocks’ in January.