Laurel Hill Coláiste perform at ‘Reach Out’ Benefit Concert LIT



It’s been a busy year for the music department and students of Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ who will be taking part in the ‘Reach Out’ benefit concert for ISPCC Childline, at the Millennium Theatre on December 16.

The choir will perform a fifteen minute programme of Christmas favourites and also join with Music Generation, Limerick City Big Band and lots of other artists for group performances which will include some audience participation.

Last April at the Cork International Choral Festival, the choir won the Equal Voice Post Primary National competition for schools and the overall prize for the best school choir of the festival. This success came soon after the orchestras performance in the Dublin Feis Ceoil, where they won the Post-primary School Orchestra competition and the RTE Lyric FM award.

The choir comprising of 121 students from first to sixth class sang, ‘What Sweeter Music’ by John Rutter, and ‘Ceann Dubh Dílis’ by Michael Mc Glynn, accompanied by students, on drum Laura Drennan and Orlaith Stedje on piano.

“It felt fantastic. I’m really proud of them. The girls were so excited, we went down with the expectation to really sing well. I would always say to them once you come off the stage and you feel you have given your very best that’s enough. I don’t think they get nervous I think they just enjoy performing.

“It was very special for the sixth years, because they have been with me through everything. I think the younger ones learn from the older ones about their commitment to the choir, they sound so gorgeous the older ones, the first years would be trying to emulate their sound. We were singing in five parts, that was very difficult for them,” said conductor and music teacher Orla Colgan Ahern.

The orchestra consisting of 41 students from first to sixth years, having won their competition by playing ‘The Thieving Magpie’ by Rossini and ‘Pavane Pour une Infante Défunte’ by Ravel, were invited to play for the gala concert in the National Concert Hall.

“I think it gives them a huge discipline. They get to appreciate lots of different styles of music, they make friends in the choir and orchestra. I hope it instils a love of music, that they can join a choir and be good enough, and to love it. The same in the orchestra, that they would join orchestras when they are in college or if they are living somewhere away, it might be a way in to meet people.

“It’s a huge commitment, I think that’s very good, and the focus of it is good, because with a lot of technological things, it can be hard to hold their attention for a long time because they are always on Facebook or things like that, and I think music dispels that and allows them to focus for a huge period of time,” said Orla.

In January the choir collaborated with De La Salle College, a boys choir in Waterford to perform Fauré’s Requiem in Waterford Cathedral.

“There was a lovely rapport between the two choirs. From the Choral Festival the idea of merging the two choirs came, the idea of giving them a bigger work to do. It was fantastic there were about 200 singers,” said Orla.

This year the choir also performed in The Unlucky Cabin Boy in the Limetree Theatre, the Childline concert and Gulliver’s Travels which was written by Myles Breen and consisted of a collaboration of many groups including Limerick Youth Theatre, Coláiste Nano Nagle, Patterns Dance Collective, Limerick Youth Dance, Music Generation Limerick and the Daughters service users.

“That integration of the Daughters of Charity and ourselves is the most special thing we have done. We are lucky, this is our third year to be involved with it. It’s a privilege.”

In the past the choir have performed in concert with Anthony Kerns, the Vienna Boys choir and the UL Orchestra to name just a few. They also frequently perform new and commissioned works by composers such Ben Hanlon, Michale Holohan, Seamus De Barra, Elaine Agnew, Kathleen Turner and Michael Mc Glynn.

“Every year you have to start building again in the choir and in the orchestra, because you loose fantastic players every June, so you are constantly building and working on them,” Orla added.

This year the traditional musicians of Laurel Hill Coláiste, prepared by past pupil Deirdre Ní Mhaoláin also got to the finals of the Siansa Gael Linn, and represented the school at all Ireland level in the National Concert Hall.

To book tickets for the ‘Reach Out’ benefit concert for ISPCC Childline, at the Millennium Theatre on December 16, contact


Ancór Christmas Concert


The award winning Limerick chamber choir, Ancór’s eighth Christmas concert will take place at 8pm, in St Mary’s Cathedral on December 15.

“Our partnership with St Mary’s Cathedral has proved very successful indeed. The concerts are always sold out, and it seems to have become an essential part of Christmas, to come to the Ancór Christmas concert for many in Limerick.

“I’m sure the fact that we serve up seasonal treats such as mulled wine and mince pies at the interval has nothing to do with this,” smiled Ancór choir director Cecilia Madden.


Cecilia Madded Ancór musical Director

As well as the 35 member mixed voice choir, the concert will feature well known Limerick solo singers, Emma English, Sarah-Ellen Murphy, Kevin Neville, Vlad Smishkewych, and a guest orchestra.

The programme consists of, “The Magnificat, a fabulous work by CPE Bach who was one of Johann Sebastian’s more famous and talented children.

“In addition we will perform a beautiful Christmas cantata by an Italian composer called Ottorino Respighi which was written in 1930. There will be a few familiar carols too,” said Cecilia.

This year Ancór celebrated their tenth anniversary with the launch of their CD Sing Joyfully, and added more trophies to their collection when they won the Early Music competition and Best Limerick Choir in the Limerick Choral Festival.

In preparation for a trip to Slovenia in the summer of 2017, the choir will be staging a number of concerts throughout the country over the coming months.

Cecilia, who is enjoying her role as Deputy Principal at The Limerick School of Music, said the sound of the choir has evolved over time.

“We have always called ourselves a chamber choir but we are nearly too big to say that now. We aim to have that kind of pure sound that may be heard in smaller, tightly blended ensembles, but with the slightly larger numbers we have now, we have the scope to vary the dynamic levels dramatically for expressive purposes,” Cecilia added.

Tickets are €18 (€15 for Seniors and Students) available from St Mary’s Cathedral or online at Ticketsolve – LIT Millennium Theatre

The Ancór CD Sing Joyfully is available from the Hunt Museum


Musician Martin Baker performs at the Limerick Pipe Organ Festival


Martin Baker

The Limerick Pipe Organ Festival (LPOF) will conclude with a performance by the highly esteemed organist Martin Baker, at 7:30pm in St John’s Cathedral, September 30.

Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, Martin directs the world renowned Cathedral choir in its daily choral programme and busy schedule of concerts, tours and recordings.

Winner of the Improvisation Competition at the St Albans International Organ Festival in 1997, Martin is also renowned for his skill in organ improvisation, and frequently performs international solo organ concerts.

“One of the things about the festival is the focus on improvisation. The musicians were selected because of their improvisational skills, being a unique aspect of our festival. The highlight of our final concert will surely be the 12 minute improvisation on a theme to be given to Martin Baker on the night,” said LPOF Artistic Director Bernadette Kiely.

As well as the highly anticipated improvisation section, Martin’s programme will include music by Dietrich Buxtehude, César Franck, Max Reger, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The last week of the LPOF will begin with a free lunchtime recital in St Mary’s Cathedral by organist Peter Barley at 1:15pm on September 28. Followed by an organ improvisation masterclass by Martin Baker from 2pm to 5:15pm in St John’s Cathedral September 29.

To finish the festival on October 1, there will be an organ building and maintenance workshop in Mary Immaculate College, at 2pm by expert organ builder Trevor Crowe.

“Trevor Crowe is currently the most premium organ builder in Ireland. The festival is not just about organ music, or the art of improvisation, but it is also because we recognise the heritage of the unique hand-built instruments that we have in Limerick,” said Bernadette.

All tickets are available on the door at each event.

Tickets for Martin Baker masterclass September 29 are €5

Tickets for Martin Baker concert September 30 €10

Tickets for Trevor Crowe workshop €5

For more information see