The 20th Anniversary Festival of Youth Orchestras concert took place on Saturday 7 February in the beautiful surroundings of the National Concert Hall in Dublin. This is the fifth time St Canice’s have been invited to perform at the concert over the past 20 years and it is a singular honour for a primary school orchestra to be invited to perform. St Canice’s shared the stage that night with the Irish Wind Ensemble and the National Youth Orchestra, amongst others, and was the only primary school orchestra to perform that night.

Orchestra conductor, Ruth O Leary, had planned an ambitious programme for this special performance. Weekly orchestra rehearsals were held since September and even included some additional Sunday rehearsals! Many children sacrificed their Sunday swimming and rugby matches to attend these practices and their diligence and commitment is to be commended. A special version of Ravel’s “Bolero” (more familiar to us as the music to that famous Torvill and Dean ice skating routine) was commissioned for the event and specially adapted for the orchestra by Irish Conductor Fergus Sheil. The repertoire also included Tchaikovsky’s “Trepak”, “Dambusters” by Eric Coates and American Composer Sean O Loughlin’s “Ironclad”.

The orchestra left St Canices at 8.30am in order to rehearse on the great stage of the NCH before the afternoon performances. They had their packed lunches, listened to the afternoon performance and then went out for a meal. Their performance on stage ended the first half of the evening concert and was hailed by two standing ovations!