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 performance by the orchestra was electrifying to say the very least! It was a great sight for the large number of parents, friends and families who had travelled up that night to see all those young children troop out on stage in their red sweatshirts. The children appeared not to be the least bit nervous and played with great confidence. The first standing ovation was for their powerful performance of “Bolero”, closely followed by a second ovation for their performance of “Ironclad”, a cacophony of percussion and rhythm. How proud we were, of our school, our music teachers and most especially our children! Special thanks are also due Ruth O’Leary who worked so hard in preparing the children for the festival in the months leading up to the show, and to all the music programme tutors who diligently prepared the students over the past 6 months. Very special thanks are also due to the travelling group of parents and teachers who looked after the children during the day. Many past pupils from St Canice’s music programme also performed with other orchestras on the night with a number of Loreto students playing in the specially formed IAYO Festival Orchestra, Concorda String Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra.

Well done to all on a wonderful night of music that we will never forget!

Regina O Leary

Artistic Director