It was a case of events coming full circle for Ruth O’ Leary, who made her debut as conductor of St Canice’s NS Orchestra in the National Concert Hall on Saturday 4 February. Back in 1997 Ruth performed with the same orchestra at the 2nd Festival of Youth Orchestras, when her Mother, Regina O’Leary was conductor. That baton has now been passed from mother to daughter. We arrived for a rehearsal, a quick packed lunch and then to enjoy the afternoon show followed by a quick meal in a nearby hotel, during which some parents ended up doing a spot of impromptu waitressing! We were given the honour of opening the show, playing Charles Woodhouse’s “Peasant Dance”, “Emperors Waltz” by Strauss, “Can You feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King, and “Theme to Star Wars”. Something special lay in wait for the audience next as the strings section played the thrilling “Palladio for Strings” by Karl Jenkins and finally “The Valiant Knight” by Charles Woodhouse. The audience were on their feet immediately as the orchestra received a noisy and sustained standing ovation! How proud we were, of our school, our music teachers and most especially our children – the only primary school orchestra to perform in the evening show!
It was a hat-trick of victories for our Senior and Junior Orchestra and Senior Jazz Band who swept the boards the Wesley College Interschools Music Festival held in Dublin on Saturday 3 March. The Senior Orchestra, conducted by Ruth O Leary, played the rousing "The Valiant Knight" by Charles Woodhouse and scooped first place and took the Miller Cup. The Senior Jazz Band, conducted by Eamon Cahill, played the popular "Theme from Mission Impossible" by Lalo Schiffrin and gained second place while the Junior Orchestra conducted by Margaret O’Faoláin de Bhróithe delighted the audience with a duet of numbers; "Marco takes a Walk" by Sheila Nelson and the "Double Surprise Symphony" by Haydn and were awarded third place. Celebrations took place afterwards in the Red Cow Moran Hotel, where the children enjoyed a meal.
After a performance by some orchestra members on the John Murray show on RTE Radio 1, the orchestra were invited to Dublin to perform at the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association Conference. What an honour to be asked to provide the musical entertainment for one of the major educational events of the year. The orchestra astounded the "movers and shakers" of the education world and great tributes were paid to Regina and Ruth O'Leary and all teachers, parents, the board of management and pupils involved. The performance established national recognition for the programme. The evening was started with stunning performances by five of our quartets followed by something to eat for our hungry musicians and finished with a fantastic performance from our Senior Orchestra.
Over thirty children from the school attended the very popular IAYO National Chamber Music Workshop weekend in Castletown, Co Laois in mid-September. This was the largest number of children to have ever attended the course and is indicative of the increasing popularity of chamber music in the school. Great fun was had by all!
The cream of Kilkenny Cats concert offers some of the best of Kilkenny's homegrown young talent serving up a feast of Jazz. Our Junior and Senior Jazz band, directed by Eamon Cahill, performed on the night and many of our former musicians were seen performing in various other ensembles.
On the 14th December the music committee hosted what has come to be an annual event, having taken place first in 2010 and then 2011, the Christmas Breakfast Morning. Children from the whole of St Canice's were given a menu at the beginning of the week and invited to choose from a number of festive options for their delicious breakfast for the small sum of €3. The delighted and very excited children were then brought into the hall in groups over the course of the morning where the music committee served them up their mouth-watering food and drink options to the background of festive music. A fun-filled event enjoyed by all and a very successful fund-raising event organised and co-ordinated by the music committee.
The Senior Orchestra got into the Christmas spirit with carols played in MacDonagh Junction and a collection by parents for much needed funds for the O'Neill Centre in Kilkenny.