We can only show a snapshot of the innumerable events, concerts, performances, successes, fund raisers and many other occurrences during the years of our music programme. We can also only mention a few names but throughout the programme from its inception there are been countless supporters, volunteers, benefactors and others who have given their time and expertise generously to help the programme become the great success it is today.
The St Canice’s Instrumental Music Programme was begun by Regina O’Leary and Peggy Carey. Both staff members, with a special interest in instrumental music, decided to resurrect the long tradition of orchestral music started by the Loreto nuns in St Canice’s National School. With a small number of violins remaining after the amalgamation of the three parish schools, they started with six pupils each. Cello and recorder were then introduced with a view to starting a small orchestra.
First Trip to Feis Ceoil
The young players made their first trip to the RDS in Dublin to participate in the Feis Ceoil, competing against secondary schools in the junior orchestra competition. They came second to the absolute surprise and delight of both teachers.
Second Trip to Feis Ceoil
1985 saw the young musicians returning to the RDS in Dublin for the second time. Once again they came second. Michael McNamara, fondly known as Mr Mac, started to come down from Dublin on Saturdays to help with the orchestra. The numbers joining the music programme were increasing so much that both teachers now began to work every afternoon after school to keep up with the demand for tuition.
Purchase of More Cellos
Following the adjudicators comments that the number of violins versus cellos was too great at the 1986 Feis Ceoil the orchestra did not compete in the Feis Ceoil this year. Instead they travelled there as spectators. Two more cellos were purchased to solve the problem.
Victory at Feis Ceoil
The participants of the music programme’s win at the Feis Ceoil for the first time in the Primary School Orchestra competition left Peggy Carey and Regina O’Leary jubilant. Prior to this the orchestra had entered the Arklow Music Festival and won the silver medal. Regina O’Leary initiated string tuition for Senior Infants this year.
Feis Ceoil Second Victory
The participants of the music programme won the Primary School Orchestra Competition of the Feis Ceoil for the second year running! Due to the success of the Senior Infant string tuition Regina O’Leary decided to initiate tuition with Junior Infants, with great success.
Three In A Row, Bourke Trophy and TV Coverage
The music programme participants won the Junior School Orchestra competition at the Feis Ceoil for the third consecutive year and won the first place and were awarded the Bourke Trophy at the Arklow Music Festival. They were also featured on the televsion in “Party Pieces” with Theresa Lowe and “School Around the Corner” with Gerry Ryan. The first concert outside of St Canice’s took place in Kilkenny Castle with performances from the orchestra and the St Canice’s Infant Violin group, to an audience of 450 parents and friends. Peggy Carey sadly retired.
Presidential Visit and Feis Ceoil Fourth Win
After Peggy Carey retired, Caroline Dowling (Mrs McPhillips) filled the enormous gap and became Regina O’Leary’s right arm! Sisters Cathy and Ann-Marie Kenny, both qualified piano and string teachers, joined the programme to teach the overflow of students. President Mary Robinson visited St Canice’s and the Junior and Senior Infants played “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on violins for her. The other members of the music programme competed in the Feis Ceoil on the same day and for the fourth year were victorious bringing the Peter Killian cup to St Canice’s once again. The orchestra and senior infants hold a second concert in Kilkenny Castle, with 300 children participating. The Orchestra were invited to play at the opening of the Kilkenny Arts Festival.
Two Orchestras Are Formed
The numbers of children participating in the music programme increased so much it resulted in the formation of a second orchestra. So both A and B orchestra travelled to Dublin to compete in the Feis Ceoil. They came second at both the Feis Ceoil and the Arklow Music Festival but were beaten in the Feis Ceoil by Loreto Secondary School orchestra which was made up former St Canice’s pupils and conducted by Regina’s sister Jacintha Cantwell. This year there was once-off “door-to-door” fundraising to buy four new cellos for the second orchestra.
First Maytime Melodies
The school welcomed Lucy McConnell (Lucy Heary) to the teaching staff, who became involved in the music programme, teaching flute & recorder, Margaret Hayes, who taught recorder to infants as well as Margaret Patterson (O’Faolain de Bhroithe) teacher of violin & recorder. The orchestra came second at the Feis Ceoil and Arklow Music Festival. Regina O’Leary invited Mr James Cavanagh, conductor of the R.I.A.M Orchestras to the school to run workshops with the 3 orchestras that had now been formed. Mr Alan Cutts from the Wexford School of Music also carried out a technique workshop to the young string players. The visits were arranged to develop and enhance performances by the music programme’s orchestras. After two successful concerts held in the Long Gallery of Kilkenny Castle the music programme staged its first Maytime Melodies named “Music in Maytime” in the newly opened Watergate Theatre in May 1993. 400 children performed on two nights to capacity crowds. As a result the A orchestra were invited to perform at a special Garda Band Benefit for Kilkenny’s Confederation Festival. The orchestra also played at a special street performance for the official opening of the Watergate Theatre by President Robinson.
Pushkin Grant Award
The A orchestra perform a Christmas repertoire at the Market Cross Shopping Centre in December 1993 and £374 is raised for the School of The Holy Spirit for Autistic and Emotionally Disturbed Children.Regina O’Leary nominated the Music Programme for the Pushkin Educator’s award. The programme is shortlisted in the final six for an award and following a visit by Kieran Walsh of the Arts Council the Programme was awarded the first ever Pushkin Educator’s Award in Belfast. The award of £2000 was used to purchase the programme’s pedal timpani. Another win at the Feis Ceoil by the A orchestra, who brought the Peter Killian cup back to Kilkenny for the fifth time and were awarded 93 marks. The B Orchestra came third and were awarded 88 marks. As a result of gaining the highest overall mark out of the three orchestral competitions at the Feis Ceoil the A orchestra were invited to play at the Junior Rosebowl Prizewinners Concert. Mr James Cavanagh was once again invited to the school twice to carry out workshops with the school’s orchestras.
Hat Trick For Orchestras
The A Orchestra won the Peter Killian Cup for the sixth time this year with the B Orchestra coming second, there was unbelievable excitement in Dublin and back in Kilkenny and the orchestra were recorded for local radio. The A orchestra also won the Bourke Trophy at the Arklow Music Festival for the second time. Music workshops were again carried out twice this year with the orchestra by Mr James Cavanagh and a percussion workshop was given by Mr Fran Mahon of the Army Band. Maytime Melodies was staged again in the Watergate Theatre in May 1995, with all the children of the music programme performing to capacity audiences in a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Music Programme.
First And Second In Feis Ceoil And Arklow
The A Orchestra busked once again for charity in the Market Cross Shopping Centre in December 1995 and during the same month also took part in the Hamper Aid Concert in the Watergate Theatre. There were performances on numerous radio broadcasts including Eistigi Liom with Proinsias O Donnachadha, a Carol Service at St Canice’s Cathedral and an appearance on Live At Three. This was followed in February and March with orchestra workshops with James Cavanagh for the fourth consecutive year. The A and B orchestra travelled to the Arklow Music Festival and Feis Ceoil, where they won an unprecedented first and second place in both competitions (the seventh Feis Ceoil win and third time to win the Bourke Cup at the Arklow Music Festival). Also in March of 1996 the A orchestra appeared in concert at St Canice’s Cathedral with a Welsh Male Voice Choir in a concert hosted by the Tourism Council. Fifteen members of the A orchestra participated in a String Quartet Weekend run by the IAYO in Donegal. Maytime Melodies is once again staged in the Watergate Theatre in May 1996 over two nights and all members of the music programme perform to capacity audiences. The Senior Orchestra were selected to perform in the IAYO Festival of Orchestras in the National Concert Hall in February 1997.
First NCH Performance and IAYO/Penneys Achievement Award
Monica Lowe and Ruth Fitzpatrick joined the teaching staff and both got wholeheartedly involved in the programme teaching recorder and helping out wherever needed. The orchestra performed in the National Concert Hall, lead by Maria Ryan and were awarded the IAYO/Penney’s achievement award of £200, open to all 45 IAYO members. The award was used to purchase four flutes and two clarinets as part of the development of the wind section of the music programme.
AIB Better Ireland Awards Grant
Mary Comerford and Helen Heffernan, after practising and filling out forms and applications for years suddenly hit the jackpot. AIB Better Ireland Awards Committee chose the Music Programme as one of the winners and gave us £5000 and a slot on Nationwide. The grant enabled the launch of the wind and brass programme. When the instruments arrived so did three wonderful volunteers to teach them, Jim Cantwell (RIP), Joe Dowling and Charlie Parsons. Dominic Brennan also arrived to teach in St Canice’s and in a short time made a lasting impression when he was asked to teach a few lads the guitar. The few became 25 and they brought the house down at Maytime Melodies! Lucy Champion, Education and Outreach Officer with the NCH invited us to participate in the series of ESB/NCH “In Tune” projects being held in different areas of the country. 30 lucky students from the Senior Orchestra were chosen to take part. They studied Mussorgky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and then went on to compose their own version of the “Pictures”. The director was John Buckley and his assistants were members of the NSO. The week long project was a huge success which finished with a performance in the school and later in the John Field room at the NCH. Maytime Melodies took place again this year in May 1998 with our young musicians performing for family and friends over two nights in the Watergate Theatre. 1998 marked the eight time that the orchestra won at the Feis Ceoil bringing back the Peter Killian cup.
Charlie Parsons, our trumpet teacher had to leave us but we were joined by Eoin Walsh. A very busy year seeing the orchestra perform in December of 1998 at A Lionheart Concert at the Watergate and busking in Market Cross during Christmas week for charity. They also performed at the AIB launch at Temple Bar, the Family Day and The National Art Gallery, open day at the National Concert Hall. Some of our young musicians took part in a chamber music weekend, run by the IAYO in Headfort. 1999 also showed the Peter Killian Cup being brought back to Kilkenny for the ninth time from the Feis Ceoil by the victorious St Canice’s Orchestra.
Eamon Cahill Joins The Programme
The wonderful Eamonn Cahill joined the music programme this year with the intention of developing our wind and brass programmes and started a new Wind Band, offering our young wind and brass players some cool and groovy tunes! Our orchestra again appeared in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December 1999 and went busking during Christmas week for charity. Fifteen members of the wind and brass ensemble travelled to City Hall, Cork and the National Concert Hall with Regina O’Leary, where they represented the school in the Millennium “Doors” Celebrations Concerts. One of our very young violinists, Jane Cudmore, opened both shows with a solo rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. To celebrate the millennium it was decided to invite John Buckley back to do a follow up project on the “Pictures” one the instrumental programme was involved in in 1998. With some great aid from the County Council Millennium Events Committee the wheels were set in motion. The NSO players came on board and worked with the group of young musicians for three full day sessions. They were pleased and impressed by the playing and the creativity and were delighted to play with the children in the Watergate Theatre at the Maytime Melodies concert of May 2000. The Orchestra won the Peter Killian cup for the tenth time this year and achieved enormous marks at the Arklow Music Festival, directed by Margaret O’Faoláin de Bhroithe.
11th Win Of The Peter Killian Cup
The orchestra wins the Peter Killian cup at the Feis Ceoil for the eleventh time. Our orchestra again appeared in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December 2000 and went busking during Christmas week for charity. Bag packing in Dunnes organised by the Music Committee raised funds for the programme.
B Orchestra Win The Peter Killian Cup
Past pupils John Donovan and Ailish Hogan return to teach flute and violin respectively. The A orchestra were very busy this year with concerts at the Watergate Theatre (Lionheart Charity Concert in December 2001), The Good Shepherd Centre Chapel in Waterford and St Canice’s Cathedral, they once again busked for charity in Market Cross Shopping Centre. They had great success on the competition circuit, winning the Bourke Trophy at the Arklow Music Festival and gaining second place at the Feis Ceoil. The B Orchestra gave the performance of a lifetime and made history by being the very first junior orchestra to win the Peter Killian Cup at the Feis Ceoil. Both orchestras were honoured with a Civic Reception held by Mayor Joe Cody. The wind band, under Eamonn Cahill’s direction went from strength to strength, with 5 trumpets and 5 trombones. Margaret O’Faoláin de Bhroithe directed the first percussion band and another new group developed under the supervision of Monica Lowe with the recorder ensemble. For the first time ever there are cello sections in all three orchestras-the cellos and their players keep getting smaller all ably taught by Cathy Kenny. Candace Whitehead, head of strings at Cork School of Music visited and carried out string workshops, percussion workshops were held with Richard O’Donnell, principal percussionist with the NSO and double bass workshops with David Whitla from the Cork School of Music. Two of our orchestra members (Alison Comerford and Mark O’Leary) played with the newly formed South East Regional Orchestra who enjoyed two very successful concerts in October and March, playing music of a very high standard. Mark O’Leary becomes the music programme’s first member of the NYO under 18’s. The programme held bag packing and flag days to raise money for new instruments and Maytime Melodies was held over two nights in the Watergate Theatre in May 2002.
20th Anniversary, Aquisition of Baby Grand And Appearance At NCH
When Dominic Brennan sadly had to leave us Lisa Hennessy joined to the programme to take up the tuition of guitar. Our orchestra again appeared in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December 2002 and went busking during Christmas week for charity. Celebrating our 20th anniversary and never shy of taking a risk we borrowed €20,000 to purchase a beautiful baby grand piano. Dr John O’Connor performed on it when he came to celebrate our anniversary with us at a fabulous concert which also featured William Dowdall of the NSO, Padhraig O’Cuinneagain and past and present members of the music programme. The 96 members of the A orchestra once again appeared on stage in the National Concert Hall with the wonderful Alison Comerford as the orchestra leader. They went on to win at the Arklow Music Festival and at the Feis Ceoil for the twelfth time. Three quartets, formed from our A orchestra members headed to Sligo on the May Bank Holiday weekend of 2003 for the IAYO Chamber Music Weekend.
Penneys/IAYO Award and Colette Kenny Joins
We welcomed Colette Kenny as our new piano teacher and we were delighted to have past-pupil Karen McGree back to teach violin and theory as well as Theresa Clarke, to teach flute. Lyn O’Reilly also joined the music programme travelling from Cork and teaching Theory, Pre-Twinkle, Baby Bows and other orchestral violin groups. Our orchestra again appeared in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December 2003 and went busking during Christmas week for charity. Eamon Cahill’s wind band performed at the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2003. At the 2004 IAYO Festival the music programme was the recipient of the Penneys/IAYO award for organisational achievement, this came with a cheque for €400 which paid for a fantastic new pair of orchestral crash cymbals. The A orchestra competed in Wesley Music Festival and came second, the C orchestra competed in Arklow Music Festival and were awarded a silver medal and a cheque for €50 and the B Orchestra were triumphant at the Feis Ceoil, bringing the Peter Killian cup back to Kilkenny for the thirteenth time. The A orchestra played at both the Enable Ireland and Lionheart concerts at St Canice’s Cathedral in November and December of 2003. Our orchestras also headed to Cork in May 2004 for a joint concert with the two Junior Strings orchestras from the Cork School of Music. The B and C orchestra had a Jamboree with St John’s N.S. Orchestra. Three quartets, formed from our A orchestra members headed to Sligo on the May Bank Holiday weekend of 2004 for the IAYO Chamber Music Weekend. A flag day organised by the music committee raised €1500 for the programme and past pupils parents organised a fashion show at the Springhill Hotel and with the help of the music committee donated over €2500 to the grand piano fund. The Maytime Melodies concert was again staged in the Watergate Theatre over two nights in May 2004. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2004 attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme.
Visit and Workshops With Apple Tree Players USA
John O’Donovan and Teresa Clarke, unfortunately left the programme and Lucy Heary has gone back to the classroom and taken a break from music teaching. New flute teachers Claire O’Dea and Kate O’Connell took their place. We also said goodbye to Lynn O’Reilly our violin teacher, who returned to Cork. Former pupil Anna O’Faolain de Bhroithe joined us to tutor recorders, Jacky Burke to teach violin and former pupil Mark O’Leary as our first ever Double Bass teacher! Margaret O’Faolain De Bhroithe bravely took over the role as administrator of the Music Programme. We bought 6 baby Cellos and six lucky Senior Infants were lucky enough to learn the Cello with Cathy Kenny. Our orchestra again appeared in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December 2004 and went busking during Christmas week for charity. Eamon’s Wind Band appeared in the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2005 at the Watergate Theatre. This year we were delighted to welcome visiting orchestra the Apple Tree Players from America who provided us with a three day series of concerts, masterclasses, string workshops, orchestral training and string quartet training. It was a truly fantastic experience for the children of the music programme to receive a fresh outlook from these players. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2005, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. The orchestra won the Peter Killian cup at the Feis Ceoil for the fourteenth time.
Welcome Musical Mums!
This year Eamon Cahill set up our Jazz Band during this year-giving our players a chance to rock! Not only that but Eamon started kit drum classes for the percussion players in the orchestras on the music programme’s new drum kit. The kit, plus a glockenspiel, a 36 inch Bass Drum and beaters, an orchestral triangle and a pack and roll case for storage were bought with a County Council Arts Grant of €2670. Our orchestra again appeared in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December 2005 and went busking during Christmas week for charity. Eamon’s Jazz Band appeared in the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2006. This year at Maytime Melodies, again staged over two nights in May 2006, we saw the debut performance of our Musical Mums, most of whom were novice players having taken on their instruments in association with the music programme. This new venture by the music programme provided those who feel they missed out on music during their childhood with an opportunity to hire an instrument and receive tuition with other Mums (or Dads!) Once again we were joined by the Apple Hill Players from America who provided us with excellent workshops which really stimulated and improved our young musicians. We also welcomed conductor Fergus Sheil who also equipped us with lots of food for thought! A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2006, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. The orchestra won the Peter Killian cup at the Feis Ceoil for the fifteenth time.
Irish Aviation/IAYO Award And Visit From President Mary McAleese
Our Cello teacher Cathy Kenny had to leave us after the birth of her baby Anna, but we were very fortunate to welcome Olwen Sheil to the programme. Olwen came with a wealth of experience, having taught for 25 years at the Royal Academy in Dublin. We also welcomed past pupil Jeremy Hickey to the programme this year to cater for the growing number of guitar students and drummers. Claire O’Dea and Kate O’Connell our flute teachers left the programme but were replaced by Nicola Young. The orchestra performed in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December of 2006, during Christmas week the orchestra busked in Market Cross for charity. The Jazz Band also performed in the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2007. A visit from President Mary McAleese to St Canice’s gave us a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the talents of our young musicians. Our Junior Infant Baby Bows performed for her, followed by First Class Violins and Recorders, the school choir sang and the best was saved until last when the orchestra played wonderfully. We performed at the NCH, with Muireann Brennan as our leader and were again recognised by the IAYO in association with the Irish Aviation Authority in an award for organisational achievement. This performance and award also led to the orchestra being featured on RTE’s Nationwide and the programme gave a flavour of the St Canice’s Instrumental Music Programme. A visit by Camerata Ireland and separately by Sandra Dackow (U.S.A) provided us with orchestra workshops to improve our performance skills so much. Kieran Gallagher of Ka Da Ka Boom Arts joined us and introduced us to some fantastic samba drumming and percussion playing which both children and adults from the music programme enjoyed tremendously. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2007, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. The orchestra won the Peter Killian cup at the Feis Ceoil for the sixteenth time.
25th Anniversary And TV Fame!
The Jazz Band, under Eamonn’s expert musical direction performed to great acclaim on the Late Late Toy Show in December 2007. What an achievement to be picked from over 4000 applicants! Our orchestra again appeared in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December 2007 and went busking during Christmas week for charity. Eamon’s Jazz Band appeared in the Cream Of Kilkenny Cats in February 2008. This year a number of our third level past pupils became associate teachers and through Saturday teaching provided excellent individual tuition to pupils who wished to focus on their instruments more. We welcomed Ruth O’Leary, Anna O’Faoilain de Bhroithe, Aisling O’Dwyer O’Brien and Deirdre Manning on board. We congratulated past pupils of the programme for achieving entry to the National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ireland-Ruth O’Leary, Maria Ryan, David O’Leary, Lorcan Brennan, Aisling O’Dwyer O’Brien, Alison Comerford and Mark O’Leary. Mark also successfully auditioned for the European Youth Orchestra. Maria Ryan (leader of the A Orchestra in 1996) won the Aileen Gore Cup at the Feis Ceoil and a bursary of €5000 followed by an RDS bursary of €10,000. 2008 marked the 25th anniversary of the instrumental music programme. An amazing musical journey and to celebrate it we held our Maytime Melodies concert at the Watergate, in May 2008 and marvelled at how far we had come over 25 years. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2008, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. Our annual flag day, held in February of 2008, raised funds for the music programme. The Senior Orchestra won the Peter Killian Cup at the Feis Ceoil, for the seventeenth time, where they scored an unprecedented 98 marks and the Junior Orchestra were awarded the Sieman’s Bursary of €1000 for the best debut recital ever heard by adjudicator Alexander Baillie and scored 96 marks.
Kazoo And The Big Big Bazaar on RTE!
Two of our violin teachers Jacky Burke, Karen McGree, and Nicola Young (flute teacher), left the music programme but we welcomed Nicola Kavanagh to teach the flute, Ber Shelley to teach the flute and saxophone and Heather Cassidy to teach the violin. Heather was eager to develop a chamber music programme within the music programme to encourage out players to practice and perform as quartets, octets and small ensembles. The recorder ensemble under the directorship of Monica Lowe and the Jazz Band, directed by Eamon performed in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December of 2008, during Christmas week the orchestra busked in Market Cross for charity. The Jazz Band also performed in the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2009. Due to the success of our chamber music programme instigated by Heather Cassidy, we were invited to take part in the National Chamber Music Weekend, run by the IAYO (Irish Association of Youth Orchestras) in April 2009 in Kilkenny College. Fifty of our young players enjoyed a musically and socially fun-filled weekend. We were also very proud to see past pupils Ruth O’Leary, Lori Comerford, David O’Leary, Anna O’Faolain De Bhroithe, Aisling O’Dwyer O’Brien and Alison Comerford tutoring the young players on the course. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2009, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. An annual flag day held in February 2009 and bag packing in MacDonagh Junction, raised vital funds for the music programme. Our thanks to Kilkenny Borough Council from whom we received a grant of €870, which we put towards the purchase of a Bass Clarinet. The orchestra won the Peter Killian cup at the Feis Ceoil for the eighteenth time.
Participation In National Chamber Music Weekend
The directorship of the A orchestra was taken over from Regina O’Leary who is unfortunately taken ill this year, by her son David, who also took on Regina’s violin groups. Liam Daly joined us this year as part of our expansion of the wind and brass element of the programme and we also welcomed Roisin O’Grady as our first ever vocal coach. Margaret O’Faolain De Bhroithe retired from the position of administrator of the programme but continued to direct the Junior Orchestra and teach Violin and Viola. Mary Conway, Mum and committee member took on the mammoth task of administrator and continued Margarets trojan work! The Senior Orchestra enjoyed Christmas busking in MacDonagh Junction in aid of Enable Ireland in December 2009. The recorder ensemble and the Jazz Band, performed in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December of 2009. The Jazz Band also performed in the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2009. The Music Committee held the hugely successful first ever breakfast morning for the children of St Canice’s and a Flag Day in February 2010 as well as bag packing in Loughboy SuperValu, all of which raised vital funds for the programme. Mary O’Neill of our music committee made a successful application to the Richardson-Smith Musical Trust, resulting in the award of a grant of €900, which we used to purchase two cellos and our thanks to Kilkenny Borough Council from whom we received a grant of €600. Our orchestras were profiled by RTE and shown on children’s television programme Kazoo in March 2010. The show featured interviews with our young musicians and orchestral performances. RTE programme The Big Big Bazaar featured orchestra members Conor Cantwell, Robert Fitzgerald, John Treacy, Seán Heary and Gavin Byrne, who organised a Bazaar to raise money for the orchestra, beat their competition and raised €2333 for the music programme. The Jazz Band took part in the Cream Of Kilkenny Cats Concert Held in the Watergate in April 2010. Many of our players once again participated in the IAYO Chamber Music Weekend in April 2010 in Kilkenny College. Maytime Melodies was once again held over two nights in the Watergate Theatre in May 2010. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2010, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. The orchestra won the Peter Killian cup at the Feis Ceoil for the nineteenth time.
Aquisition of €15,000 Grant
Ruth O’Leary joined the teaching staff of the school this year and took over the Directorship of the Senior Orchestra from her Mum Regina O’Leary-a very large pair of boots to step into! She also took on Cello tuition, alongside Olwen Sheil, and the continued development of the chamber music programme which led to the formation of six working quartets. To help us develop our brass programme, we welcomed Mark Fitzgerald, from Waterford who teaches trombone, pocket trumpet and trumpet, as well as helping out with our percussion and theory classes. We had to say goodbye to Nicola Young, one of our Flute teachers. The Recorder Ensemble and Senior Jazz Band performed at the Lionheart Concert in December 2011 in aid of St Vincent De Paul and the A Orchestra busked in MacDonagh Junction during Christmas week, raising funds for Enable Ireland. The Jazz Band performed in the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2011. Thanks to the unceasing work of Mary O’Neill, Mum and committee member the programme secured the funding of €15,000 through the Music Network Capital Grant Scheme, in association with the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht and the Arts Council. This allowed the expansion of the wind and brass programme of the school by the purchase of new instruments from pocket trumpets, baritones and trombones to saxophones and french horns. Liam Daly organised a special performance by the Army Band in Loreto school in March 2011, which allowed the programme’s pupils to experience the big band sound and to try out some of the brass instruments. The expansion of the wind and brass facet of the programme has led to Eamonn Cahill running both a Junior and Senior Jazz Band. Fund raising efforts by the Music Committee included a Breakfast Morning, held in December 2010 (amid snow!), a highly successful new initiative, A Flag Day in February 2011 and a fashion show, organised by Catherine Peters, Marilyn Young and the music committee, held in Langtons which raised a whopping €5400. Our thanks to Kilkenny Borough Council who awarded us a grant of €200. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2011, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. Our Senior and Junior orchestras once again competed in the Feis Ceoil and won the Peter Killian cup for the record twentieth time! The Senior Orchestra also received the Bernadette Caruana €1000 award.
Hat Trick At Wesley And Fourth Performance In NCH
Over thirty children from the school attended the IAYO National Chamber Music Workshop weekend in September of 2011 in Castletown, Co Laois. These record numbers are indicative of the increasing popularity of chamber music in the school. The adult programme continued to expand seeing over 45 adults taking weekly violin and cello classes this year. The Senior Orchestra performed at a special “Savour the Seasons” Festival of Music in St Canice’s Cathedral in October 2011. During December of 2011 the Orchestra performed at the ceremony to turn on the Christmas lights in the city centre, the Senior and Junior Jazz bands both performed in the jazz spectacular “Cream of Kilkenny Cats” concert in the Watergate Theatre. The jazz band and recorder ensemble performed at the Lionhearts Concert in St Canice’s Cathedral in aid of local charities, with the Senior Orchestra raising funds for the O’Neill Centre, Kilkenny by busking in the city during Christmas week. The Music Committee once again held a highly successful fund-raiser with a breakfast morning for the second year. The Senior Orchestra were privileged to be invited to perform for the fourth time in the NCH for the IAYO Festival of Youth Orchestras in February 2012 and were the only primary school orchestra in the evening show and received a standing ovation.It was a hat-trick of victories at the Wesley College Interschools Music Festival, with St Canice’s Senior Orchestra winning The Jazz Band, coming 2nd and the Junior Orchestra coming 3rd! A performance by some orchestra members on the John Murray show on RTE Radio 1, resulted in a invitation for the orchestra to perform at the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association Conference, in Dublin. We were honoured provide the musical entertainment for one of the major educational events of the year. The Senior and Junior Orchestra and Senior Jazz band performed at Kilkenny College with the Churchlands Senior High School Orchestra from Perth in April 2012-the visiting Australians were very impressed by the ability of our young musicians! Maytime Melodies was once again held over two nights in the Watergate Theatre in May 2012. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2012, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform before their parents and certificates were awarded to all in the music programme. A grant of €5800 received from the Music Capital Network Scheme in 2012, was put to good use purchasing much needed essentials for the programme.
30th Anniversary Of The Music Programme
This year marked the thirtieth anniversary of the music programme. Again we saw huge numbers of our young instrumentalists participating in the IAYO Chamber Music Weekend in Castletown Co Laois. The Music Committee once again held the breakfast morning in December 2012 a hugely successful fund-raiser, now in its third year. The recorder ensemble under the directorship of Monica Lowe and the Jazz Band, directed by Eamon performed in the Lionheart Charity Concert in December of 2012, during Christmas week the orchestra busked in MacDonagh Junction for charity. The Junior and Senior Jazz Band also performed in the Cream of Kilkenny Cats in February 2013. Our Senior Orchestra scooped first place in the Primary Schools Orchestra Category at the prestigious Wesley College Inter-Schools Music Festival. Our Junior Orchestra completed a great victory at the recent Feis Ceoil competition in Dublin by winning the Peter Killian Cup (for the twenty-first time)-beating the Senior Orchestra, who came second. RTE came to the school to record over three days for a series of sixteen programmes “Meet the Orchestra”, aired on RTE Junior in September 2013, to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra. Our Senior Orchestra were interviewed and recorded individually and together during the session. A sixth class leaving concert, in June 2013, attended by the Mayor gave the 6th class musicians an opportunity to perform in front of their parents and certificates were awarded to all participants of the music programme. To celebrate thirty years of music making an anniversay concert was held in the Watergate Theatre in June of 2013. The concert featured performances of past pupils of the programme Maria Ryan, Alison Comerford, Mark O’Leary, and David O’Leary, amongst others, who have gone on to have prestigious and in many cases award-winning musical careers. It also saw the debut performance of the Gateway Orchestra, a group of adult musicians who have received tutelage through the St Canice’s Instrumental Music Programme for adults and performances from the St Canice’s Senior Jazz Band and Senior Orchestra. A grant received through Music Capital Network Scheme in 2013 for €2,379 was used to purchase two timpani drums and covers. A grant of €700 from Kilkenny Borough Council in August under the Arts Act Grant, which we will be using towards the purchase of new violin cases.
IAYO National Special Achievement Award
In 2013 we welcomed four new teachers to the music programme. Katie Murphy (Violin, Pre-Twinkle, Chamber Music and assistant to Margaret with Junior Orchestra), Margaret Murran (Flute) and Dominic Dudley from RIAM (Double Bass). Aisling O’Connor, one or our teachers, also came on board to teach Violin to our Junior Infants. Lucy Heary took a break this year from the programme and Carl Rochford left during the year but continues to be an associate teacher with the programme as is Aisling O’Dwyer-O’Brien.
September 2013 saw the national airing on RTE Junior of the “Meet the Orchestra” series, filmed in May of 2013 using the Senior Orchestra. The “Bass Line” project was launched to encourage a greater uptake of the double bass. Our lucky bassists with receive master classes once a month from Principal Double Bass player of the NSO Dominic Dudley.
In October 2013, the Senior Orchestra were special guests in a concert with Regina Nathan (Soprano) and the Michael John Chamber Orchestra in St Canice’s Cathedral. October also saw many of our young musicians travel to Galway to take part in the annual IAYO National Chamber Music Workshop.
In November 2013 parents and adults involved in the St Canice’s Gateway Orchestra performed in the Mayor’s Gala Charity Concert in the Watergate Theatre. All proceeds from the event were donated to St Vincent De Paul. Also in November 2013 “Wide Open Music”, an initiative sponsored by The Arts Council and Kilkenny County Council saw our Senior Orchestra members take part in workshops under the tutelage of RTE NSO members. The orchestra also had two rehearsals led by NSO conductor Fergus Sheil. The workshops and rehearsals culminated in a concert in the Watergate Theatre in December. The concert featured the RTE NSO and world renowned violinist Tasmin Little O.B.E. Two of our lucky sixth class violinists, Aoibheann Smyth and Niamh Walsh also attended a master class with Tasmin Little in the NSO prior to the event. This was wonderful and unique opportunity for our young musicians to be tutored by and play alongside professional musicians.
In December 2013 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. Our Jazz Band and Recorder Ensemble also took part in the annual LionHearts Concert, with proceeds being donated to St Vincent De Paul. More well received funds were raised for the O’Neill Centre, by our Senior Orchestra how took part in annual busking in McDonagh Junction. Our Junior and Senior Jazz bands took part in the biannual “Cream of Kilkenny Cats” concert in the Watergate Theatre.
In February 2014, Regina accepted a Special Achievement Award from the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras (IAYO) in recognition of 30 years of music by St Canice’s Instrumental Music Programme. Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, presented Regina with the award onstage at the annual Festival of Youth Orchestras Concert at the National Concert Hall in recognition of the contribution the music programme has made to the development of youth orchestras. The award also came with €1000 cheque. February also saw 3 members of the Senior Orchestra take part in the recording of “Beo Show” by RTE in Dublin.
March 2014 saw many of our musicians take part in the Kilkenny Music Festival. This year’s music festival was the most successful to date with over 80 competitions.
In April 2014, our Junior and Senior Orchestras travelled to the RDS in Dublin to compete in the annual Feis Ceoil Primary Schools’ Orchestra competition. The Junior Orchestra (holders of the Peter Killian Cup fro 2013) were narrowly beaten by the Senior Orchestra, who scooped the Peter Killian Cup for the school for the 22nd year! The festival also saw many individual successes for both past and present pupils of the programme.
In May 2014 our biennial Maytime Melodies concert took place over two nights on the 20th and 21st May in the Watergate Theatre, attended by Mayor Martin Brett. As ever the shows were full to capacity with families and friends enjoying 20 different group performances, two Orchestras, 2 Jazz Bands and a Concert Brass Ensemble. We saw more than 120 children take part in RIAM theory exams held at the school.
In June 2014 our Sixth Class pupils took place in our annual Farewell Concert. The concert was attended by Mayor Martin Brett. It was a nostalgic, poignant and wonderfully enjoyable evening.
A grant was kindly given to the programme of €950 by Kilkenny Borough Council. This grant was used to replace some of the double basses.
June 2014 saw Mary Conway, administrator of the music programme for the last 4 years, sadly depart. Mary has worked tirelessly within her role and has been responsible for bringing the running of the music programme into the 21st century. She has shown a wonderful and patient attitude at all times. Mary’s succesor is Ruth Walsh-a former pupil of St Canice’s! One of Sixth Class quartets, the “DAPA Quartet” with members Ana O’Shea, Patrick O’Shea, Dara Scobie and Annie McEvoy were filmed performing beside the River Nore for an RTE programme “Abhainn” which follows life along banks of various rivers in Ireland.
On July 2014 we were informed that St Canice’s N.S. Instrumental Music Programme has been short listed for the 2014 Allianz Community Arts Prize as part of the Allianz Business to Arts Awards Scheme. We are delighted and honoured to have been short listed for such a prestigious award!
Senior Orchestra Performance of Bolero at IAYO 20th Anniversary Festival of Youth Orchestras Concert
September was an incredibly busy month. Maria Comerford, Mrs O’Leary 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 . It was a delight and honour that the Senior Orchestra were selected to perform in the concert. 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.
June saw the Senior Orchestra visit City North Hotel, Co. Meath to play with Fergus Shiels’, Julianstown Youth Orchestra. This was a wonderful opportunity for our orchestra to play with another orchestra and both orchestras performed in a small concert. It also saw the 6th Class Farewell Concert with extraordinary performances from our wonderful 6th class students. 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. Claire will be replaced as Chairperson by committee member Genevieve McHardy. We also said a fond Farewell to Jim Delaney and 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!
Music Network Grant Awarded for €9,335
In November 2015 we were awarded a Music Network Grant for €9335. The grant was used to purchase instruments, strings and bows. We were very grateful Jane Harte and Genevieve McHardy for undertaking this task which is of huge benefit to the programme and allows us to stay afloat into the future.
In December 2015 we had our 5th hugely successful Breakfast at St. Canice’s in the school, hall which is a fundraiser for the music programme. This is one of the most enjoyable days in the school calendar and involves all children in the school, not just those in the music programme. Having breakfast in the “School Café” with your classmates is a wonderful experience for the children and is one of those “feel good” experiences for children, teachers and parents alike. December also saw Eamon Cahill showcase the wonerful talents of our Junior and Senior Jazz Bands (amongst other secondary school ensembles which nearly all included several ex St Canice’s School pupils!) in “A Jazzy Merry Christmas” at the Watergate Theatre. The Annual Lionhearts Christmas Concert also took place during December in St. Canice’s Cathedral. Our Senior Jazz Band and Recorder Ensemble performed wonderfully on the night.
In February 2016 we were delighted to see our wonderful director Regina O’Leary be honoured by receiving the Agnes O’Kane award from the IAYO in recognition of her contribution to St. Canice’s and to youth orchestras over the last 30 years. It was a very special occasion for Regina and she was honoured to accept the award from Philip O’Kane, Agnes’ husband on the stage of the NCH.
March 2016 saw another year and another Feis Ceoil day out! 4 buses, 150 children and 30 parents travelled on our annual pilgrimage to FeisCeoil in the RDS in Dublin. As usual, we stopped off en route in Liffey Valley where the children spent a couple of hours shopping with their friends, eating their lunch at 11.30am and buying up all the Percy Pigs in Marks & Spencers! The Senior Orchestra were victorious this year and took the Peter Killian Cup back to St. Canice’s yet again. The Junior Orchestra gave a wonderful performance and they look forward to many more years taking part in Feis Ceoil.
April 2016 saw Eamon Cahill once again showcase the talents of the Junior and Senior Jazz Band again amongst many fantastically talented secondary school ex-St Canice’s pupils!
May also saw the long awaited biennial Maytime Melodies concerts which took place in the Watergate Theatre on Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th May. The concerts featured all 440 children who were enrolled in the programme. We saw fantastic performances from our adorable “Baby Bows” (Junior Infants Violin) and “Pre-Twinkle” groups (Junior Infant Pre-Instrumental), our equally gorgeous Senior Infant “Crotchets and Quavers” (Violin) and “Cello Cherubs” as well as “Pre-Twinkle 2” (Senior Infant Pre-Instrumental). Percussion skills were show-cased from first class to sixth class with our various percussion groups “The Allsorts”. We saw brilliant “Recorder Ensemble” and “Groovy Guitar”performances and beginners to wind and brass played in “St Canices Cubs and Tutti Flutti”. Beginners in stringed instruments played in “Minims and Semibreves, Vital Violas, Celloriffic and Bassline”. Our amazing brass players were show-cased in “St Canice’s Concert Brass Ensemble” and we also saw brass and wind skills alike in our Junior and Senior Jazz Band. We marvelled at the young talent in our Junior Orchestra and felt overwhelmed by the skill of the older (but still very young) players in our Senior Orchestra who closed the concert wonderfully on Wednesday evening.
June saw yet another Farewell Concert from our Sixth Class music programme pupils. The night saw individuals and groups performing for parents and close family. As always it was a wonderful night, organised by the music committee, and a chance to celebrate a musical journey through St Canice’s.