Spring Concert 2017
The spring concert this year was once again, a most successful event. The congregation in the beautiful St Anne’s Cathedral was entertained by a stunning array of varied musical genres and witnessed the talents of over 400 students who provided us with an evening of musical delights on March 30th this year.
The evening’s concert opened with some beautiful traditional Irish dancing performed by sisters Zoe and Zara Mc Garry and Seana Gallagher. They were accompanied on the flute by Caoimhe Mc Ardle and on the tin whistle by Dearbhail O’Boyle.
We were then entertained by the melodious voices of the Chamber Choir who, conducted by Mr McNeil, sang Sing me to Heaven by American choral composer, Daniel E. Gawthrop. It was a sensitive and beautifully ethereal work and their performance more than did it justice.
It was then followed by their beautiful a capella arrangement of Siúl a Rúin. This traditional Irish song is a favourite of the chamber choir and featured solos from five of our very talented singers; Aoibh O’Neill, Emma Allsopp, Justine Taggart, Terese Winter and Paula McStravick.
The Senior Orchestra stunned us next. Conducted by the Head of Music, Mr Morrison, they performed two pieces: Marche Militaire and Writings On The Wall.
The Marche Militaire is one of Schubert's most famous melodies. Originally composed for piano four hands it has been arranged for many different combinations of instruments. We however were treated to their beautiful orchestral version.
Their second piece was Writings On The Wall, the haunting theme tune taken from the most recent James Bond movie ‘Spectre’.
The Junior Cumann Ceoil then delighted us with their rendition of Streedagh’s - The Approach of the Galleons. This is the first tune in the suite also entitled ‘Streedagh’ which was composed by Patrick Davey in 1999, to commemorate the wrecking of three ships of the Spanish Armada on Streedagh Strand near Mullaghmore in County Sligo.
This was followed by their Folk Song Suite. This is comprised of four well-known folk tunes from around Ulster which are combined into a suite: starting off with ‘Slieve Gallen Braes’ from the Ballinascreen area of County Derry, followed by ‘The Star of the County Down’ then ‘The Bard of Armagh’ and finishing off with ‘Gleanntán Ghlás Ghaoth Dobhair’ from Donegal.
The Junior Choir followed and they were conducted by Mr McNeill and ably accompanied by Year 14 pupil Molly Mc Aleenan on piano and (the other)Mr McNeill on banjo.
There are over 100 members this year in the Junior Choir comprised of students from Years 8-11. They sang the lively traditional favourite, The Gypsy Rover.
St Dominic’s was also delighted to welcome back the choir from Jordanstown School to our Spring Concert for the fourth year. This year’s musical collaboration between the two schools featured the pupils from Jordanstown School Choir, combined with the voices and new sign language skills of our 100-strong Junior Choir.
They performed an original and very moving rendition What a Wonderful World made famous by Louis Armstrong with a solo from St Dominic’s Year 10 student, Grace McCluskey.
The Wind Band lifted the congregation with their performance of Coldplay’s 'Viva La Vida' by our Wind Band.
The Junior Orchestra then opened the second part of the evening. Conducted by Mr McNeill, accompanied by Mr Thompson and Miss Salt, the Junior Choir has over 50 members from Year 8-12 with a few senior girls joining in, who very generously assist with the Friday morning rehearsals.
We took delight in listening to wide range of instruments and standards, from Grade 1 right up to grade 8.
They played the popular main theme from Star Wars by John Williams which of course needed no introduction and they are also gave us a beautiful rendition of In the Hall of the Mountain King by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.
We were also be entertained by two lovely pieces played by the Senior Cumann Ceoil. Directed by Mr McNeill, the group featured 11 members from Year 11 -14 and one Year 9 student, Niamh McArdle on fiddle.
That evening, they played two sets of traditional tunes, the second of which included an original composition, The Children of Lir Reel, by Year 12 music student Zoe McGarry. We had already witnessed Zoe’s spectacular dancing (along with her sister, Zara, and Year 11 student Seana Gallagher) at the start of the concert and, as we heard, her composing skills were just as impressive. The Senior Cumann Ceoil were accompanied by the two Mr McNeills!
Next we had, the loud but impressive African Drumming Ensemble. The group included 14 pupils from Years 8-10, who rehearse once a week under the direction of Mr Gavin Brown, and, in his absence, our own Miss Maria Aaroy, in Year 10 who also performed in all but two pieces that evening. They played a lively and complex piece called Aombaba.
The Senior Choir has always been the highlight of the Spring Concert. Conducted by Mr McNeill, accompanied by Mr Thompson and ably assisted by Miss Richards and Miss Salt, there were over 50 members in the Senior Choir with students from Years 10-14. They are also the school’s singing stalwarts, performing at many school based events – awards ceremonies, masses, carol services, Christmas fairs, to name but a few.
At the Spring concert they sang a gentle song of reassurance, entitled Lullaby, by the contemporary composer Daniel Elder, the very beautiful Laudate Dominum by Mozart which is taken from his Vesperae solennes de confessore. It featured a solo from Year 14 pupil Aine Madden whom many of you will remember from her role as the Narrator in our recent production of Joseph and his Technicolor Dream coat.
They also performed an exquisite contemporary choral piece by the Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, called Tundra which featured a most impressive first solo from Year 13 pupil, Emily Scott.
They finished with the lively and ever popular song The Rhythm of Life from the Broadway musical Sweet Charity.
Undoubtedly the symbolism of the third section of the piece resonated with the atmosphere and experience of the evening.
We are so fortunate to have our concert in the most majestic setting of St Anne’s Cathedral. We were treated to the most beautiful music which emanated hauntingly from its sacred altar.
This year’s concert clearly shows that this year has been a great success for the Music Department. Choirs, orchestras and all the ensembles have gone from strength to strength, playing and singing a very diverse but equally impressive range of music.
The evening again not have been possible without the generosity of St Anne’s Dean, Dean David Mann who graciously allowed us to use St Anne’s and who gave of his time so generously to allow the Music Department to prepare for the event. We are incredibly grateful to him and all of the staff in St Anne’s who worked so hard to ensure the concert went off so smoothly.
Sincere thanks to DRs Denis and Maria Maloney who secured the beautiful venue for us. We recognise again their unfailing loyalty to the school community and their continued support for us.
Sincere gratitude and thanks to Mr Morrison, Head of Music, music teachers, Mr Shane Mc Neill, Mr Gerard Mc Neill, Miss Rebecca Richards and peripatetic staff who worked tirelessly to rehearse the girls throughout the year. The talent in the music department is undoubtedly reflective of the commitment of the staff who provide our girls with the opportunity to shine at every level.
Sincere appreciation is also due to the Board of Governors who are behind everything that happens in the school.
A final thanks to our wonderfully talented students who made us all so proud that evening. Their outstanding performances made the Spring Concert one of the highlights of the school’s calendar this year!