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  • The Priests

The Priests to play at Middlesbrough Cathedral

They’ve sung for three popes, two queens and a king – and now they’re coming to sing for us at St Mary’s Cathedral in Middlesbrough.


Award-winning classical singing group The Priests – Northern Ireland brothers Father Eugene and Father Martin O’Hagan and their lifelong friend Father David Delargy – have agreed to perform at an exclusive concert on Friday June 28 2024.


The Priests’ self-titled debut album became the fastest-selling debut album for a classical act in the UK when it was released in 2008 and went gold and platinum throughout Europe, as well as topping the classical Billboard chart in the United States.

Their first three albums were all nominated as Classical Album of the Year in the Classical Brit Awards and they have had the honour of performing for Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, as well as for the late Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, (now King Charles and Queen Consort).

“We can’t wait for the summer and what promises to be a spectacular night,” said cathedral dean Canon Paul Farrer, who is organising the event.


“I’m delighted we are able to bring The Priests to the cathedral. I met Father Eugene just before the pandemic when he visited a seminarian in Valladolid. We said then how good it would be to arrange a concert. Little did I know it would be here!


The three men, who were all awarded MBEs in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2020, continue to serve as full-time priests in the Diocese of Down and Connor.


The concert is their only planned mainland date and will be extra special because 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of their first performance together as schoolboys at St MacNissi’s College, County Antrim.


“I know the cathedral will be packed with people who want to hear them sing in a beautiful setting,” said Canon Paul.


Father Martin O’Hagan, says they can’t wait to come to Middlesbrough this summer for their first ever visit to the town.


And he believes coming in the 50th anniversary year of their first musical performance together as schoolboys at St MacNissi’s College, County Antrim, will make it even more special.


Speaking of their experiences since being snapped up by record giant Sony in 2008, Father Martin said: “It’s been a whirlwind, there's no doubt about it. It all began when Liam Bradley contacted us representing Epic, which is a branch of Sony, and after singing for an audition we were given a contract to make three albums.


“We had already sung together for more than 30 years at that stage, and the blend and the chemistry was intriguing. 

“David was a classmate of mine and Eugene, of course, is my older brother, so there's a dynamic and a chemistry there that works very well.

“And so we began the journey, and I tell you it's been amazing. We're so grateful to God and to all those who have supported us.”

Father Martin said: “We've had lots of travelling to do to promote the albums, but the record label has honoured our commitment to our parishes, and as full-time parish priests that was very important.


“We’ve had some wonderful opportunities and have met Pope Francis and Pope Benedict as well, God rest him.

“We also sang for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and we've met King Charles and Queen Camilla. But it's also been lovely to bring the music into hospital wards and the school classroom. 

The Middlesbrough concert is their only planned mainland date, and Father Martin hopes it will be a memorable one. 

“I don't think I have ever been to Middlesbrough, but we’re very much looking forward to the opportunity.


“There’s a very profound Irish connection in the history of Middlesbrough, so we’ll tap into that and bring our own Irishness into that context.


“I hope and pray there will be plenty who will come to enjoy the evening. There will be a mixture of music, both sacred and secular – with a little Irish section, of course!


“This is a wonderful opportunity, particularly as we reflect on 50 years of singing together, and the privilege we’ve had as God has helped bring this music to so many people.


“In a frenetic world, music can be an opportunity to slow us down, help us reflect and to step out of the busyness of life and to be uplifted and reassured.


“I think that it will be good for ourselves, the parish and the wider community, so I hope people will come and have a very enjoyable evening with lots of banter and connection with the audience.” 


The event takes place on Friday June 28 2024 and will also feature the Cathedral Choir and Cantabile.


Tickets are priced from £22.50 to £27.50.


To book, call the cathedral on 01642 597750 or email cathedralevents@rcdmidd.org.uk.

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