Saturday 2nd March saw our sixth class musicians leave their standard guidance examinations and hop straight onto a bus with the other members of the Senior Orchestra bound for Wesley College Interschools Music Festival. The orchestra were determined to retain the Miller Cup which they were awarded in the same competition in 2012. A quick packed lunch was followed by a rehearsal and then the performance. The orchestra performed "Dambusters" directed by Ruth O'Leary and their superb performance rightfully earned them the bestowing of the Miller Cup. The cup was collected by Ruth Kent (leader) on behalf of the triumphant orchestra.
This year marked the fifteenth year of The Kilkenny Music Festival, the largest of its kind in the south of Ireland. With more than 70 competitions, the choral, vocal solo, and instrumental performances featured competitors from Kilkenny, Carlow, Laois, Waterford and Wexford.
The festival always brings together a wide spread of ages and talents with competitions which cater for all levels and walks of life. A final Gala concert marks the end of the festival and showcases musicians chosen by the festival adjudicators from eighty winners of the festival’s competitions to perform and have the opportunity of winning the festival's most prestigious prizes.
This year as every year we saw a large number of our talented musicians from the music programme enter the various competitions and in many cases be highly successful. Our musicians Georgia Shine, Liam and Aoibheann Smyth, Daire Maher and Ruth Kent as well as former St Canices pupils, Alex Lawless, Marie Therese Boland, Jenna Raggett won their competitions and perfomed onstage in the Watergate on Gala night.
On the 19th of March our intrepid Junior and Senior Orchestras journeyed to Dublin to compete in the Feis Ceoil. The trip was taken via Liffey Valley where our young musicians enjoyed some retail therapy and lunch in the food court and then subsequently continued to the RDS for the competition. Our Junior Orchestra, directed by Margaret O Faoláin de Bhróite, played “Prelude in G” by Edward B Jurey and “Marco Takes a Walk” by Sheila Nelson, wonderfully and were victorious taking away the Peter Killian Cup. Our Senior Orchestra, directed by Ruth O'Leary, played “Dambusters March” by Eric Coates and Elgars “Nimrod” and were a close runner up to their younger friends, taking second place. This marked the twenty first time the Peter Killian Cup was brought to St Canice's.
Opera Theatre Ireland staged Carmen in the Watergate on Thursday May 9th. Eleven of our Sixth Class students sang in the Children’s Chorus and experienced the thrill of being in a professional production such as this. Well done Ella Brennan, Ruth Kent, Sinead Flynn, Kiri O'Neill, Richard Obisanya, Doireann Sloyan, Sarah Smith, Aine Trait, Jane Cass, Kate Dempsey and Alannah Kennedy.
RTE came to the school to record over three days for a series of sixteen programmes “Meet the Orchestra” which was aired on RTE Junior in September 2013. The programme's aim was to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra. Our Senior Orchestra were interviewed and recorded individually and together during the session. See excerpts of each of the sixteen programmes which showcase our own student with their instrument in an interview and then whilst performing with the Senior Orchestra.
On 11th June, eight years of playing culminated in a beautiful event for our young sixth class musicians and their parents alike at the Sixth Class Farewell Concert. This Year there were 32 acts, which included individual performances and those of groups, with some of our musicians taking the stage on more than one occasion and on more than one instrument in many cases! It was a wonderful evening thoroughly enjoyed by all and was closed by a moving rendition of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" from the Lion King. We were joined by Mayor Sean O'hAgain who presented every pupil of the programme with a certificate of achievement and as principal of the Gaelscoil Osrai, in Kilkenny, congratulated Regina, the music staff, teachers and Mrs Comerford, our principal, on the remarkable achievements of the music programme, stating it was something every school should aspire to creating. The evening concluded with drinks and food as provided by the music committee and Sixth Class parents and Domino's pizza as a well deserved treat from the music programme for the young musicians.
Patrons enjoyed an incredible night of musical excellence at the 30th Anniversary Gala Concert celebrating the foundation of St Canice’s Instrumental Music Programme. It was a showcase of current musicians in the school and of several artists who have gone on to become renowned musicians in their own right, such as Maria Ryan (current holder of the Heineken violin); David O Leary, Alison Comerford and Mark O Leary.
It marked the debut of St Canice’s Gateway Orchestra, a very special adult orchestra of amateur musicians. Eamon Cahill, synonymous with teaching jazz featured two of his jazz bands. It was a night of musical diversity; from French horn, and trombone, played by brother and sister Muireann and Lorcan Brennan to violin and flute, played by Aisling O Dwyer-O Brien and John Donovan. One of the highlights was the performance of Mendelssohn’s “Octet for Strings”. Maria Ryan, violinist played Tchaikovsky’s “Melodie” followed by the frenetically paced “Banjo and Fiddle” by Kroll. David O Leary, violinist with the English National Opera, played ‘Carmen Fantasy’ by Sarasate and received a standing ovation. St Canice’s Senior Orchestra, conducted by Ruth O Leary, closed the show. For many of the older children on stage, it marked their last time in the familiar red orchestra sweatshirt, as they leave for secondary school in September. The night would not be complete without special mention of the woman who made this all possible, Regina O Leary. She received a special presentation from her son David in recognition of her creation of a legacy of music for thousands of children in Kilkenny. Regina thanked all who contributed to the success of the programme over the last 30 years. Dublin conductor and adjudicator Dr Albert Bradshaw praised Regina for the profound impact she has had on the lives of so many through her work in music education.
Regina Nathan , (Soprano) brought her Concert of “Operatic Arias and Sacred Classics” to The Cathedral Church of St Canice in celebration of St Canice’s Day.
The concert featured a selection of popular operatic arias such as ‘O mio babbino caro’, ‘Ebben n’andrò’, ‘Vissi d’arte’ and other arias in the first half of the concert accompanied by The Michael John Chamber Orchestra who will also be performing some favourite orchestral pieces. The second half of the concert includes some Irish folk songs with piano followed by well know classic hymns and sacred music ; Make me a channel of your peace, Céad míle failte romhat, Panis Angelicus and many others.
Regina was thrilled to have the St Canice’s Senior Orchestra as her guest on this special night.
The first workshop involving our Senior Orchestra members under the tutelage of NSO members took place on Monday 11th November.
This workshop is part of an initiative sponsored by the Arts Council and Kilkenny County Council, which sees the Senior Orchestra learning two new and challenging pieces. The pieces will be completed through two workshops with NSO members and with two Orchestral rehearsals led by NSO Conductor Fergus Sheil. The Senior orchestra will then perform in a special short concert on Friday 6 December at 7pm, showcasing their work with the RTE NSO.
The percussion workshop was supervised by NSO percussionist Richard O'Donnell, the violins and violas were supervised by NSO violinist Mary Wheatley (assisted by ex St Canice's players Jenna Raggett and Marie-Therese Boland), the cello and double basses were supervised by NSO cellist Violetta Muth-McKimm, the flutes and recorders were supervised by NSO flautist Riona O'Duinnin with help from Lucy Heary, the clarinets and saxophones were supervised by NSO bassoonist Hilary Sheil and the brass players were supervised by NSO french horn player Ian Dakin. Second Cello's were assisted by ex St Canice's player Elizabeth Boland.
Our young players felt honoured to be afforded this very unique opportunity to participate in the workshop with professional musicians and had a musically challenging and fulfilling afternoon.
Our privileged orchestra members were conducted by Fergus Sheil (Conductor RTE National Symphony Orchestra) at their rehearsal on Wednesday November 20th and also enjoyed his professional attention at their rehearsal on Wednesday, 27th November!
Niamh Walsh (Senior Orchestra Leader) and Aoibheann Smyth (Niamh's second in command) attended a special masterclass with Tasmin Little (O.B.E) at the National Concert Hall on Tuesday 3rd December ahead of the RTE National Symphony Orchestra concert in Kilkenny on Friday 6th December.
This once in a lifetime opportunity for the Senior Orchestra, saw them playing on Friday December 6th in the Watergate Theatre alongside the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and with acclaimed concert violinist Tasmin Litlle (we have been requested not to show this performance by Tasmin Little's management company). The Orchestra performed "The Firebird Finale", by Stravinsky and conducted by Fergus Sheil of the NSO. Also under the baton of Fergus they were honoured to perform Vivaldi's "Spring From The Four Seasons" which featured a solo performance by Tasmin Little. Their mentor and conductor Ruth O'Leary led them in their performances of "Themes From First Symphony" by Brahms and "Trepak", from the Nutcracker Suite by Tschaikowsky. A wonderful evening’s entertainment was enjoyed by all who attended.
St Canice's Gateway Orchestra were invited to perform in the Musical Society's Christmas Concert on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th December. The show featured stars of Kilkenny Musical Society, past & present and guest artists from years gone by as well as today’s local stars of the stage, for a magical journey through musical theatre history.
Two of our Sixth Class Quartets performed during the Sue Nunn show on Friday 13th December during a special outside broadcast Christmas Show by KCLR in The Set John Street, Kilkenny. Local radio audiences enjoyed renditions of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Performers were Niamh Walsh, Ellie Kane, Dara Scobie, Issey Shine, Aoibhin Leamy, David Connolly, Christine Doheny, Ben Kavanagh and Aisling Newing. They also met some of the unusual creatures that Reptile Village brought along!
The highly anticipated Annual Christmas Breakfast Morning took place in the School Hall on Friday 13th December. The children were offered a choice of one of four drinks, one of two savoury snacks and one of two sweet snacks and all for only €4. Santa's little helpers were very busy prior to the event baking! It was a really great morning and probably our best one yet in terms of atmosphere. One little junior infant declared that it was the happiest day of his life!
On Friday December 20th, The Senior Jazz Band, Junior Jazz Band and Recorder Ensemble took place in the annual "Cream of Kilkenny’s Cats" Jazz Spectacular show. The show featured the ever growing number of Jazz ‘Big Bands’ from various schools of Kilkenny who showcased their talents along with some of the finest individual performers in the county. Groups performing on the night included, the award-winning Kilkenny Wind Ensemble, Kilkenny College Senior Jazz Band, CBS/Loreto Senior and Junior Jazz Bands (with many ex St Canice's members), Castlecomer C.S. senior band, and St. Kieran’s College Jazz Band. Every year is a sell-out and this year the audience was treated to music by legends such as Springsteen, Sinatra and Slade and even Shakin Stephens as well as a feast of festive favourites.
A great afternoon of busking by the Senior Orchestra took place in a very busy McDonagh Junction on Friday 20th December. The children were fantastic and entertained the many shoppers with a selection of carols and Christmas songs. Volunteers collected in aid of Enable Ireland/The O'Neill Centre. Thanks to all who helped in any way to make it such a lovely occasion.