Wednesday, 15 February 2017

UCC Choral Society Celebrates 80 Years!


UCC Choral Society is a mixed voice choir (SATB) of UCC students of all disciplines, ranging from music to medicine. One of the oldest societies in UCC, the choir rehearses every week preparing for various competitions and performances. As of 2017, UCC Choral Society celebrates its 80th birthday. With this, the beginning of February marked a weeklong celebration of our society with 'Choral Week', beginning on the 30th January and concluding on the 4th February. We included many choral based events in this week, including the choral 80th birthday party and rehearsal, Strauss Ball, which is the creative societies ball in UCC, featuring the Cork Pops Orchestra, Choosical the Musical- a singalong cinema and our final event of the week, our first ever UCC Choral Workshop day.

This workshop, held in the Aula Maxima on the grounds of UCC, allowed all attendees to learn in a very interactive manner with 4 workshops throughout the day with different speakers, which included our very own Daniel Beuster, Dr Geoffrey Spratt, Dr Trish Rooney and Dr Eva McMullan Glossop. We concluded the day with a very interesting talk by Dr Paul Mealor, a professor of composition in the University of Aberdeen, whose piece, Ubi Caritas, was commissioned to be performed at the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2011. 



The main events of the choir’s year are the annual Christmas concert "Carols by Candlelight", which runs for 3 nights each year and is always a great success, the Spring concert in the second term and the international trip during the Easter break. There are also a multitude of other events that the society conduct, including charitable performances, caroling on campus, sing-along cinemas and much, much more. We sing everything from Mozart to Elton John, so there is something to suit everyone's musical tastes. New members are welcome at all stages throughout the year whether you are a musical prodigy or you just like to sing in the shower, so come along and join one of the most fun societies in UCC.

We also have a competitive choir, UCC Singers. Formed in 2014, UCC Singers have enjoyed great success in various national competitions. This includes most recently first place in the mixed voice category at the City of Derry International Choral Competition with a mark of 94 and first and second place in Feis Maitiu in the chamber choir competition and mixed voice competition respectively. The choir consists of 28 members, again from all faculties throughout the college. With new members added and graduated every year, we have been very lucky to maintain such a consistently high standard throughout the past three years.

Both of these choirs are under the direction of the very talented Daniel Beuster. Hailing from Galway and a graduate of CIT Cork School of Music, Daniel joined our choral family in September 2015, bringing both choirs up to a higher standard of performing and choral singing. Since 2015, the lowest position in which we have placed in competition is 2nd place with both choirs, a true reflection on how Daniel's direction has improved our wonderful society.

Not only have we a wonderful conductor but we're very lucky to have our incredibly talented accompanist, David King. David is currently studying a Bachelor of Music of Clare and can only be described as a truly wonderful musician when it comes to playing the piano. Most recently, David won 'The Bridget Doolan Memorial Perpetual Cup and Bursary' at Feis Maitiu, which is again a real testament of the calibre of musicians we are so lucky to work with.

In 2016, UCC Choral Society had the greatest honour of travelling to Verona in Italy to compete in their annual international Choral Festival in which we received the gold standard award and performed with the fantastic talent that is Dr Jeffrey Redding. This year, we hope to replicate that gold standard award as we travel to Budapest over the Easter break to compete in their annual international choral festival from the 8th-13th April. 





Friday, 20 January 2017

Cois Cladaigh Celebrates 35 Years


Way back in June of 1982, a small group of singers got together in the Ladies Club in the then UCG to start a new choir in Galway. The musical focus of the choir was from the Renaissance including composers such as Monteverdi, Marenzio, Gesualdo, Lassus, Victoria, Byrd, Dowland and Morley but also Irish composers such as Bodley, Ó Gallachobhair and Buckley. This was the start of Cois Cladaigh. Little did the singers realise that 35 years on, they would still be together to celebrate this birthday.

This 42 mixed voice choir specialises in contemporary choral music and European music from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Since its foundation, Cois Cladaigh has travelled  widely throughout Ireland and has performed in Counties Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Westmeath and Roscommon. It makes regular tours outside Ireland including France (3 times), Italy (3 times) Germany (twice), Holland, Portugal, Spain, Poland, U.S.A., Estonia, Belgium and Iceland.The Estonian trip was a great success and the choir was greatly honoured by Arvo Pärt who came to our concert in Tallinn and met with all the singers after the event.




The choir has been very successful in competition over the years and in 2009 was awarded the Lady Dorothy Mayer Memorial Trophy for the performance of Molamís go leir an tAon-Mhac Criost by Br. Ben Hanlon in the International section of the Cork Choral Festival. At the same festival in 2007, it won the Premier National Competition for Mixed Voice Choirs, the National Competition for Light, Jazz and Popular Music, the Trofaí Cuimhneacháin Philib Ui Laoghaire, the National Choir of the Festival – Victor Leeson Perpetual Trophy and the Perpetual Trophy for the Performance of Irish Contemporary Choral Music – an astonishing sweep of trophies that is unlikely ever to be equalled.

Cois Cladaigh takes an active role in commissioning contemporary composers and these include John Buckley, Micheál O Súilleabháin, Hugh Kelly, Marion Ingoldsby, Martin O'Leary, Peter Michael Hamel, Jenny Walshe, Eamonn Murray, Br. Ben Hanlon, Ann Hoban, Máire Ní Dhuibhir and the contemporary New Zealand composer, David Hamilton. The Basque composer, Javier Busto wrote a piece to celebrate the choir’s 20th. anniversary. Its most recent commission “Three Plums”, was by the U.S. composer Matthew Harris and the premiere performance was given December ‘08.

In September 2000, Cois Cladaigh launched its first CD called “Lux Aeterna” which is a selection of the choir’s of Renaissance and Contemporary spiritual music. The second, “An Equal Music”, focuses more on contemporary secular and religious music and to a lesser extent, Renaissance music. The third cd “Beatus Vir”, is a live recording of a concert in Cork, 2007 and the fourth “Puer natus” is a recording of Christmas music.

As part of its 25th anniversary, Cois Cladaigh organised a 3 concert tour to Ireland by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir who performed music by Estonian composers which was grant-aided by the Arts Council and 2010, the choir collaborated with Pipe Works to bring Chanticleer to Ireland for the choir’s first Irish visit.




For the choir’s 30th anniversary in 2012, Cois Cladaigh commissioned works by the Estonian composer Urmas Sisask , the Spaniard Albert Alcaraz, the Icelandic-based duo Oliver Kentish and John Speight and three Irish composers Benedict Schlepper Connolly, Emily Magner and Eamonn Murray.

The choir did two workshops and subsequent concerts with the following conductors: Mark Duley who concentrated on 16th/17th century chromaticism by composers e.g. Vicentino, Lotti and Gesualdo while Donal Doherty focussed on contemporary North American repertoire e.g. Lauridsen, Giejlo and Whitacre.

We gave concerts in a number of Ireland off the west coast including Clare Island, Inishbofin and Inisheer. Programmes for all the 30th anniversary concerts featured composers listed above, as well as early Irish chant, Bassano, Jacquet of Mantua, Chesnokov, Bessarabov and some of Cois Cladaigh’s early repertoire. A selection of existing Cois Cladaigh commissions will also be featured some of which will be second performances.

A collaborative performance including the eminent U.S. volcanologist Professor John Delaney who has carried out extensive underwater HDV of Pacific spreading zones harpist Kathleen Cannon and uileann piper Eugene Lamb was presented in St. Anne’s Church, Dawson Street, Dublin as part of the International Science Conference that was held in the National Conference Centre, Dublin, July 2012.

The choir also collaborated with Dr. Michael Fenstrøm, UL, in a concert of choral and electronic synthesised music, the Carl Hession Jazz trio in a concert of Renaissance religious and secular choral music and with Con Tempo as part of its10th anniversary celebrations.

The choir visited Paris in March (16th – 19th) and stayed at the Irish Cultural Institute where it gave 1 of three concerts. The choir also attended St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the Irish Embassy.

Over the last 35 years, Cois Cladaigh has organised several workshops to expose the singers and the conductor to different choral practitioners. These include voice training, musical interpretation and sight singing with Mark Duley and Alan Leech, experimental and aleatorical singing with Gunnar Eriksson and plain chant and early polyphony with Angus Smith of the Orlando Consort.

Cois Cladaigh has worked with many different choirs and musical groups including the Galway Baroque Singers in a performance of Thallassa by Philip Martin, Resurgam, New Dublin Voices and Mornington Singers in a performance of Renaissance motets and as part of a Pipe Works concert, Orlando Consort to perform Tarik O’Regan’s Scattered Rhymes, Mícheál Ó Suilleabháin accompanied traditional Irish songs and the NUI Galway orchestra for a performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria.




Brendan O’Connor, the choir’s main conductor, has a Ph.D. in marine science and is Director of Aqua-Fact International Services Ltd., an environmental consultancy company based in Galway. He has been associated with choral music since secondary school. He began conducting the University College Galway choir in 1972 and kept this post up to 1981. In 1982, he was asked to conduct a newly formed choir, Cois Cladaigh, and has remained its principal conductor since then. He has adjudicated at two Oireachteas Festivals and twice at the Cork International Choral Festival and the Sligo International Choral Festival. In 2008, he adjudicated at the Jersey International Choral Festival in October. He was on the adjudication panel for the All Island Secondary Schools Competition in 2010 and 2011. In 2011 and 2012, he adjudicated at the AIMS Festival in New Ross. He was chair of the adjudication panel for the Galway Choir Factor competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and also chaired the panel for the recently formed Schools choral festival in Galway in 2016.

He attended and contributed to all the think tank sessions organised by Fergus Shiels as part of the Arts Council strategy to support and develop choral singing in Ireland which culminated in the Arts Council publication “Raising Your Voice”  in October 2008.

In 2007, he was presented with the Galway Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture and also Galway Person of the Year Award for music by the Chamber of Commerce. In 2009, he received an Alumni Award for his contribution to music in NUI Galway.


www.coiscladaigh.net

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Community Choirs in West Cork led by Caz Jeffreys

For more than twenty years I’ve been working with a cross section of the community, leading music workshops and also with my involvement in community events. Most of my work has been with the setting up and on-going running of community choirs and vocal performance groups in my own area of West Cork. Performance has taken my work into events such as the Cork International Choral Festival, Ballydehob Jazz Festival and also in collaboration with visiting choirs from abroad. I love to travel and meet new communities and so from time to time my work takes me further afield.


Singing for community wellbeing
Since graduating from the MA in Community Music course at the University of Limerick, I have sought opportunities to broaden my experience in working with the different groups within the community with who I have had less contact. This has taken me into a wider section of health care settings as well as working with children and young adults.
In 2015 I was invited by the West Cork Mental Health Services to get involved in a new festival in my area dedicated to promote community wellbeing, and so my long standing desire to bring many voices together to sing a common repertoire found its’ platform in the culmination of a ‘BIG SING!’ However as soon as the event was over it was apparent that this was much more than a one-off event and that a new project had been born, bringing together much of my work and personal desires – a project bringing all walks of life together in song for the mutual benefit of the individual and wider community.

And so the West Cork BIG SING! - ‘Singing for Community Wellbeing’ project was born.
In this project I work with local choirs, community groups and individuals through teaching a common repertoire of songs at workshops and through collaborations. The songs chosen are a mixture of popular and the unknown, some from other countries and walks of life, some I have written and some written as a group effort for the event. They are all chosen with the consideration for suitability of the lyrics... to be acceptable to all age groups and ethical backgrounds, and to have a meaningful message. So far this has brought me working with groups such as Co-Action, the National Learning Network, the COPE Foundation and secondary schools. Members of eight local choirs have also engaged and in many ways have become quite the backbone of the singing, providing vocal strength and support to the rest of the community at the BIG SING! events. Two such events have taken place so far at local community festivals and we are preparing now for the third to mark Mental Health Week 2016 in Bantry.
This time I have taken the project another step further by involving a brass section and drumming group made up of individuals who were inspired to work with me on the project. Their music will be arranged and interwoven within the songs....we will see how this experiment turns out! I think involving local community music groups in the project could prove to be inspiring and rewarding in many ways.
Take a look at this short video which really helps to portray what this event is at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I7bU-AqeLk
                                               


Community Choirs in West Cork
Kinsale Voices – Kinsale, Cork, Ireland

KINSALE VOICES is a group of enthusiastic, local people who enjoy group singing without musical accompaniment (acappella style). We enjoy preparing songs for performance and taking them out into the local community. We meet weekly on Mondays from 7.30pm – 9.30pm in the Blue Haven Cafe singing in a variety of styles and genres.

https://www.facebook.com/KinsaleVoices?ref=tn_tnmn

AcapellaBella – Ballydehob, West Cork, Ireland

ACAPELLABELLA began in 2003 and has reached out having sister branches in both Clonakilty and Kinsale over the years. We currently meet in the side room of Ballydehob Community Hall on Thursdays from 8pm-10pm and new members are welcome all year round. The styles and genres we sing vary from term to term.

https://www.facebook.com/acapellabella?fref=ts

Ceol Na Laoi – Ballincollig Community Choir, Cork, Ireland

An inclusive new choir which is open to everyone in the community. We aim to provide a relaxed space for people to explore the simple pleasures of singing together. The songs we sing include both the familiar and the new, and we also like to explore songs from different countries.
We meet on Tuesdays 7- 9pm in Coaliste Cholilm School, Ballincollig.


I welcome collaborations, meeting and sharing musical opportunities and experiences with others and would be delighted to bring more of my work out to more areas. If you would like to explore any possibilities and discuss options for working with me please feel free to get in touch.

You can find out more about Caz’s work and projects by visiting her website at: www.cazjeffreys.com
Join her and sign up to newsletters on her ‘Caz Jeffreys Music’ facebook page for regular updates and items of interest at: https://www.facebook.com/cazjeffreysmusic/

Call her on:083 1425599 or get in touch by email at cazjeffreys@gmail.com

Monday, 3 October 2016

Nothing activates as many areas of the brain as music. Singing is a stimulating experience which triggers all sorts of positive energy in the mind and body. Social interaction is the best way to shake off the blues. Put it all together and you get Choral Singing at its best.

This is the philosophy that underpins Singing For The Health Of It. This is an adult Rock ‘n’ Roll choir, open to men and women of all ages. Since starting up in 2013, it has built gradually into a focussed and committed team. New members are welcomed and included, building on the positive energy, fun and friendship that are well established in the group. To join, a new member needs to be able to sing in tune and to make the time commitment to the team. Learning CDs and sheet music help the individual learn their part, but only rehearsing together makes the choir. This is where the team gels and the sound blends, as the singers listen to each other, rely on each other and are led to a unified sound by their conductor (me!).

Exploring the Rock ‘n’ Roll genre is fascinating. Choosing songs that translate well into a choral setting, finding or writing the arrangements, bringing out the character of each song, its message its jokes and its energy, making it interesting to sing for each voice in the room, all contribute to the success of the choir. The best fun is had in identifying the vocal techniques required to sing these songs, then teaching them to the choir, sometimes with hilarious results. The Buddy Holly hic-cup, for instance, is not as easy as it sounds!

Now in its fourth year, SFTHOI will perform and workshop in RehabCare, Sandymount during National Choral Singing Week for Mental Health in October. National Choral Singing Week is a great innovation by the AOIC. It gives us the opportunity to focus on the many physical, mental and emotional benefits of choral singing and to share it far and wide. We all know there’s nothing like a good oul’ sing in the bath or the car for letting off steam. In a choir, working with other people in a team adds the focus and social connection that everyone needs, but because there’s work to be done, there’s less pressure on the individual to interact socially, it can happen gradually in a safe environment. National Choral Singing Week is only one of the many initiatives of the AOIC, but like all such things it only works if the members ourselves get involved and do our bit. They provide the Facebook page – we should be posting on it!

Next on the SFTHOI calendar will be one or two Christmas performances for charity. We love to perform in fund-raisers and charity concerts, as it usually means sharing our music and joy with other music groups and musicians as well as with the audience. All invitations are seriously considered.

Singing For The Health Of It does exactly what it says on the tin. Every rehearsal ends with myself and the choir members tired, but fizzing with energy and standing around chatting for ages before going home. Every performance likewise - I have a great time, the choir members have a great time and, most importantly, the audience has a great time. What more could you want?

Liz O Connor- Conductor, Singing For The Health Of It