As we draw the curtain on another wonderful year for St Canice’s Music Programme, I would like to thank all those involved in creating so many magic moments during Season 2014/15.

There have been so many highlights it’s almost impossible to keep track!

September was an incredibly busy month. Maria Comerford, myself and some Parents travelled to the NCH where the Programme had been shortlisted for an Allianz “Business to Arts Award”. Although we did not win the main Award we received a cheque for €500 to acknowledge the wonderful work taking place in the school.  Our Senior String Quartet “Dynamica” represented the Programme at the National Youth Council Expose in the National Museum where they performed for Minister for Culture Heather Humphries. Following that the Senior Orchestra gave a wonderful performance at the Kilkenny Design Centre to mark Culture Week.

It was then down to brass tacks to prepare for the IAYO 20th Anniversary Festival of Youth Orchestras Concert . I was delighted and honoured that the Senior Orchestra had been selected to perform in the concert. We chose a hugely demanding programme and I have never seen children and music teachers work so hard to pull it all together. The Senior Orchestra, conducted by Ruth, totally nailed the demanding programme and the rendition of Ravel’s “Bolero”, arranged by Fergus Sheil, received a standing ovation.  It will go down in the history of the Programme as one of the most spectacular performances ever seen on stage.

In November our fabulous Senior Jazz Band gave a terrific performance of Pharrel WIlliam’s “Happy” on the Late Late Toy Show. Our three Jazz Ensembles were a wow at the Cream of Kilkenny Cats concerts in December and April at the Watergate. The Recorder Ensemble and String Ensemble performed beautifully at the Lionheart Concert in December and the Senior Orchestra had a very successful Christmas busking session at McDonagh Junction where all funds raised went to the O’Neill Centre- a charity very close to our hearts.

We had huge numbers competing at Kilkenny Music Festival in March and congratulations to all those who received Awards and Certificates.  There have also been an extraordinarily high standard of results in the RIAM and ABSRM exams with many Honours and Distinctions. This was followed by two amazing performances at Feis Ceoil by both Senior and Junior Orchestras resulting in the Peter Killian Cup returning to Kilkenny for the 23rd time since 1985. What an incredible achievement! It was a great honour that our orchestras were also featured on the Feis Ceoil Documentary broadcast by RTE.

Our Sixth Class String Quartet “Dynamica”represented the programme on many occasions throughout the year including a performance for President Michael D. Higgins at Butler House in June. Congratulations to Katie Breen, Sophia O’Shea, Hanaa Yousef and Georgia Shine who received a Mayoral Award from Mayor Andrew McGuinness for their extraordinary musical achievements during the year. Special mention must also go to Cian and Oisin Farrell who were given the Audience Prize for Best Performance at the recent Midlands Feis.

Our Music Programme is special because of the wonderful personnel involved. We have an amazing team of Music Teachers –  Ruth, Margaret, Monica, Eamon, Olwen, Colette, Katie, Tommy, Margaret M, Liam, Mark, Lisa, Aisling, Danny, Roisin, John,  Laura- what a dream team.

We also have the huge support of the Parent’s Committee led by our Chairperson Claire Brennan. Claire with support from Jane Harte has done amazing work behind the scenes in procuring Grant Funding from a number of Agencies to secure the future of our Music Programme. The Parents Committee have done trojan work throughout the year and without their support and help the programme could not work. Thanks to our extremely hard working chairperson Claire Brennan, super secretary Catherine Peters, Genevieve Mc Hardy, Ciara Bracken, Jane Harte, Rosie Keenan, Irene Maher, Claire Brannigan, Anita Byrne, Ann Marie O’ Neill, and Margot Brannigan for keeping the ship afloat!

Huge credit is due to our fantastic Administrator Ruth Walsh who has the unenviable task of setting the annual Timetable- a huge task which she has managed so well throughout the year in accommodating the needs of all children.

To Kate O Connell – thank you for managing our website which is a source of huge pride. You are the ultimate professional and I appreciate every single minute of time spent keeping everything up to date.

To Eilis O Shea- super photographer at all our special occasions and Caroline Farrell for standing in when Eilis couldn’t be there.

Thanks to Jane Harte for all the lovely photos of the 6th Class Farewell. What a beautiful night that was- extraordinary performances from our wonderful 6th class students. Thanks to all the parents who sent in all the delicious food and to the Committee who organised a great social evening. The evening was tinged with sadness as we said a sad Farewell to Claire Brennan who has given countless hours to the development of the programme and has set up so many systems to ensure the future of the programme.  We also said a fond Farewell to Jim Delaney and I wish to thank him for his huge support as Orchestra  Manager to both the Senior Orchestra and the Senior Jazz Band. He made sure all the heavy equipment was ready to go and we never worried that anything was missing from the buses! I would like to wish our incoming Chairperson Genevieve McHardy all the best for the next year.

I also wish to thank our volunteer orchestra managers:
Senior Orchestra- Catherine Peters, Jane Harte, Ciara Bracken, Jim Delaney, Genevieve Mc Hardy, Irene Maher, Ger Pryal, Claire Brennan,  Ruth Walsh
Junior Orchestra – Lexie Trait, Ann Marie O’ Neill, Niamh Harte, Geraldine Clarke, Claire Egan.
Senior Jazz Band- Jim Delaney, Claire Brennan, Jane Harte, Siobhan Nolan, Lucy Heary, Sinead Maher, Gemma Loli.
Junior Jazz Band – Catherine Peters, Yvonne Friddle.
We would welcome new volunteers for all our ensembles in Sep 2015!

Thank you to our amazing Principal Maria Comerford for the most wholehearted support of all things musical at St Canices and to the Board of Management who have given us free reign to develop this unique programme and for their belief and support in all we try to do.  Huge thanks go to the teaching staff of St Canice’s who put up with all kinds of disruption to allow the smooth running of the programme- thank you for your forbearance.

Final thanks has to go to the fantastic children at St Canice’s who give us so much pride in watching their development as young musicians and giving us the joyous magic moments in their performances which make every year of the Programme so special.  All I can say is Wow!!  What a year! We look forward to another wonderful year of music in September and I wish you all a happy and restful Summer break.

Regina O Leary
Artistic Director