Walking in the Air with UL orchestra

Walking in the Air and a selection of Christmas favourites will be performed by the University of Limerick Orchestra (ULO) at their annual Christmas Concert, a great way to get you into the spirit of the festive season.

The concert will include performances from award winning Limerick choir Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ conducted by Orla Colgan Ahern, and Boy Soprano Daniel Ryan who is a student of Limerick School of Music teacher and soloist Emma English.

Conducted by Liam Daly, the orchestra will also perform Dvorák’s Symphony No. 7 Op. 70 and the Hungarian March from the Damnation of Faust by Berlioz.

Established in 1992, ULO is an amateur, community orchestra, the musicians are students and staff from the University, Mary Immaculate College, the Redemptorist Centre of Music, the Limerick School of Music and from other music schools across the region, and is funded by the University of Limerick.

Concert is on at 8pm at University Concert Hall Limerick on Saturday December 9. Tickets are available from University Concert Hall Box Office, University of Limerick at 061 331549 or online at www.uch.ie.

TICKETS / Main €15 / Concession €10 / Student €5

Mary Barry launches debut album at Dolan’s Warehouse


I Knew You, the debut album by Mary Barry, will be launched at Dolan’s Warehouse at 8pm on November 1.

Limerick Lady Mary, is a singer songwriter who, after many years of thinking about it, finally put pen to paper and composed nine original songs over the last year and a half.

“My inspiration comes from a combination of my two loves which, apart from the people in my life, are music and philosophy, and also learning from songwriters I admire, and writing what’s true to me,” said Mary.

The seed of this album began when Mary finally used a gift she had received, an hour in a recording studio in Dublin, three days before the voucher was due to expire. There she recorded her first song, accompanying herself on guitar. That was the start of her creative journey that eventually led her to Red Door productions in Limerick, where she met Dave Keary.

“Luckily for me, Dave has a very busy schedule, which meant there was time between meetings to write more songs. So, what started out as one song became nine. It has been an amazing journey, and a privilege to work with Dave and the amazing calibre of musicians he brought together in the making of this album,” added Mary.

Having always loved singing, Mary originally took guitar lessons so she could accompany herself as a hobby. Inspired by song writers such as Kris Kristofferson and Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mary’s main influences are folk and country music. She writes philosophically about her life experiences and hopes she is conveying thoughtful and uplifting messages through her songs.

“When I’m singing I think about the lyrics and what they mean to me. I love the way music brings out feelings and helps summarise otherwise complicated scenarios. I also feel deeply grateful and spiritual. The songs mean all I’ve ever felt but never thought I would have or need to explain, if that makes sense,” said Mary.

On the night Mary will be accompanied by Dave Keary on guitar, Danny Byrt on Drums, Eoghan O’Neill on Bass and James Hanley on Keyboards.

“Other than singing a couple of songs in a pub the odd time, I’ve never done anything like this. In one way, I can’t wait. In another way, I’m terrified,” added Mary.

Tickets are €5.00 and can be bought from



The Countess’ Salon performed by The Opera Workshop at No 1 Perry Square Hotel

The Countess’ Salon, performed by new Limerick based group, The Opera Workshop, will take place in No 1 Pery Square Hotel on October 15, November 12 and December 10.

Founded, produced and directed by well known Limerick Lady, Shirley Keane, this premier performance has a cast of some of some of Limerick’s best known singers, including Sarah-Ellen Murphy, Jean Wallace, Eve Stafford, Kevin Neville and Catriona Walsh, with piano accompaniment by Irina Dernova.

The performances will comprise well-known songs and musical highlights, including those by Puccini, Bizet and Mozart and the December concert will also feature Christmas songs and carols.

‘It is a wonderful time to be trying something new in Limerick.  I have come home to an energised city and county that is enthusiastic and excited by arts and culture.  And though opera is not new, nor is Limerick’s love of opera new, I hope that the work of The Opera Workshop will be refreshing, challenging and entertaining for Limerick audiences and artists,’ said Shirley.

Having spent more than 20 years in the United Kingdom, Shirley, a professional actor, singer and teacher, believes that the possibilities for creating original cross-art and vocal work are endless.  Her aim is to cultivate a company that develops high standard professional productions, while simultaneously encouraging younger, local musical talent.

“It was the room that actually inspired us with the idea of a grand opera salon, hosted by a charming, glamorous Countess.  The audience should feel like her guests enjoying her party and are privy to the gossip and scandal that is brewing around them.

“We devised the story, characters emerged, we played with the relationships between the characters, and a script was devised and written which acts as a link for the songs but also creates a tangible story.  There will be a mix of styles of songs and opera including light opera, folk, German lied, music theatre and opera performed in English, German, French and Italian,” added Shirley.

The cast have been rehearsing since early September and are hopeful for full houses as tickets are selling fast for this intimate venue which holds 50 people per performance.

Shirley’s hope for The Opera Workshop is to provide the focus for a collective of like-minded artists interested in testing their skills, developing new productions, seeking opportunities to experiment, develop and share innovative ideas in opera performance as there are many musicians from across the Mid-west  who work on a professional and semi-professional basis in Ireland and internationally.

Shirley intends that The Opera Workshop will have a strong community and outreach ethos and welcomes opportunities to work with schools and community groups interested in developing projects that serve their needs while exploring a vibrant, joyous and beautiful art form

Having begun her vocal training with Olive Cowpar in Limerick and worked for a couple of seasons at Bunratty Castle as an entertainer, Shirley then went on to study a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting at the Rose Bruford College of Drama, London, and voice and opera at both The Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music London.

Her successful career saw her including Opera Theatre Company, Basingstoke Haymarket, Opera Holland Park, with concert and oratorio performances across Europe and in venues such as The Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Old Trafford football stadium and Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

And teaching through community and outreach work in particular, through her own community opera company in East London, East End Opera and with companies such as Live Music Now, Glyndbourne Opera, The Half Moon Young People’s Theatre and more lately as a director and acting teacher at The Guildhall School of Music, London where she is a member of the vocal faculty.

The No 1 Pery Square Hotel are offering a pre-opera 3 course special menu at €35 pp.  Dinner reservations can be booked directly with the hotel – 061  402402/ info@oneperysquare.com

The show tickets are booked via info@operaworkshop.ie.  We take bookings, reserve tickets which must be paid for on the night.  Box office available from 7.30

“The dinner is a separate offer made by the hotel and not part of the performance.  If people want to avail of this special rate for a meal at No 1 Pery Square they book directly with the hotel and would probably need to consider an earlier booking as the show must start at 8pm.  But guests can bring drinks into the performance.  Tickets for the show can be booked independently without having to book for the dinner,” added Shirley.

Tickets for performances of The Countess’ Salon must be pre-booked on info@operaworkshop.ie

Tickets cost €20 and €15 concession.

www.oneperysquare.com      https://www.facebook.com/theoperaworkshop/


Edel O’Brien, Reflecting Strings and Irina Dernova to perform at St Michael’s Perry Square

An Evening of Popular Classics, a concert featuring mezzo soprano Edel O’Brien, trio Reflecting Strings and organist Irina Dernova in aid of St. Michael’s Organ Fund and Down Syndrome Limerick will take place at St Michael’s Church, Pery Square on March 31.

Edel O’Brien

“I have only had the pleasure of singing in St. Michael’s Church once before. It is a beautiful venue to perform in. The acoustics are excellent,” said Edel.

Originally from Kilrush, County Clare, Edel began voice training with Jean Holmes at the Limerick School of Music. Then having obtained a Bachelor and Master of Arts in music from National University of Ireland (NUI) Maynooth, she studied at Trinity College of Music, London, followed by two years at the Centre de Formation Lyrique, Opera Bastille, Paris. Edel has performed as a soloist in Opera de Paris, Opera de Rouen, Opera Ireland, the Anna Livia International Opera Festival, and as a guest soloist with many choral societies throughout the UK, Ireland and France.

“It was really Moya who made the final choice of programme. She asked me to find pieces I like to sing and then chooses those that work best when arranged for cello, violin and harp. The programme will include works by Mozart, Gluck, Bizet and Rossini,” added Edel.

Moya O’Grady on cello, her son David O’Doherty on violin and daughter Geraldine O’Doherty are Reflecting Strings, a Dublin based chamber group that has recorded five critically acclaimed CDs and toured extensively internationally, one special highlight was a celebrated performance in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

Moya was co-principal cellist of the RTE Symphony Orchestra. David studied at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Conservatory of Music, made his American debut live on Boston Radio and in July 2000, and received his “Premier Prix de Virtuosité” from the Conservatoire of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Geraldine has been Principal Harpist with the RTE Concert Orchestra since 2006, and is a teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music, London and at the Hochschule fur Musik in Zurich. She has toured internationally and performed with many groups and has an extensive list of recordings for various artists such as Paul Byrom, The Priests, Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder and she also features on the soundtrack to the Oscar nominated film, Albert Nobbs.

Irina Dernova

Irina Dernova who is musical director at St. Michael’s Church, and is also a piano teacher at Mid-West Vocal Academy, Lisnagry, and is well known as an accompanist and teacher throughout limerick and Clare, will begin the evening by playing Trumpet Voluntary by Jeremiah Clarke on the organ.

“I wish to say a big thank you to Edel and Reflective Strings for offering this concert.

The organ in St Michael’s is one of the oldest in Limerick, about 150 years old. It needs funding, a big job was recently done on it, and more work is needed on it,” said Irina.

Tickets are €15 and are available to buy on the door before the concert at 8pm

CD’s by Edel O’Brien and Reflecting strings will also be available to purchase on the evening.

Jessica Bray and Shirley Keane teach Stage Stars


Stage Stars is the new group performance programme for children at the Mid-West Vocal Academy and Music School. Devised by accomplished professionals Jessica Bray and Shirley Keane, the fast paced, energetic and child focused course aims to give children training in the areas of singing, drama and dance.

Limerick ladies Jessica and Shirley co-lead the hour long classes that cater for children aging from four to sixteen years of age. Their primary aim is to build the confidence of the children and allow them to explore theatre in a safe, supportive, fun environment, where the children’s ideas are the driving force of the creative work.

“The classes are energetic, physical and busy. Jess and I have put together a flexible structure, we include technical elements, such as vocal warm-ups, practical stage awareness, and dance routines built on a strong foundation of fundamental acting work including devising, improvising and lots of imaginative play.

“We always begin with an energetic warm-up followed by vocal warm-ups using rehearsal and theatre games.  We constantly return to a circle to begin exercises or share ideas within the group, always emphasising that we take turns, we listen to each other and that everyone’s input is valuable giving opportunities to all the participants to be seen, heard and to participate,” said Shirley.

Shirley Keane

Shirley Keane

Shirley trained in theatre and opera studies at the Rose Bruford College of Drama, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music in the UK, and has worked as a singer, actress, director and teacher with many varied groups and festivals across the UK and Ireland.

Also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK, Shirley is currently on the teaching staff of The Guildhall School of Music, where she works with undergraduate and post-graduate singers, musicians and conductors, directing opera scenes and productions and running performance workshops.

“As teachers we work to develop routine, structure and technique and it is our job to encourage them all, always, to do their personal best. It is my job is to listen to the participants, to be open to their ideas, and by having their ideas accepted by adult facilitators and a group of their peers, the children learn to value their own talents, abilities and self-worth.

“I love to perform, that is what I have trained to do and I love being a facilitator.  I would encourage and support any child who wanted to perform professionally. I hope that some of our children feel capable and confident enough to audition for external music and theatre productions, but I would never push children to seek fame or to seek adulation.  Drama and theatre work is not about encouraging children to show off but through nurturing talent, the work should encourage an openness of mind, an ability to work with other people, the courage to offer and to accept ideas, and the confidence to express themselves through the disciplines of the theatre,” said Shirley.

Jessica Bray

Jessica Bray

Jessica Bray studied Musical Theatre Performance at The Guildford School of Acting in the UK where she received the Sir Michael Redgrave Scholarship and the Sir John Gielgud award for Musical Theatre.

Jessica who currently works in Limerick and Cork as a teacher and director, has performed with the Cecilian Musical Society, Limerick Musical Society and Shannon Musical Society, and believes that being a regular performer makes her a better teacher.

“I’m excited about working with new and current students. I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience. Our hope is that we can introduce our students to the world of theatre and performing and make them fall in love the way we did from a young age. Performance skills are useful in many walks of life.

“Whether it’s job interviews or college presentations. At stage stars we are preparing our students for all these challenges and building strong, confident kids and teenagers. We hope they enjoy it. We hope they learn something new every week and build friendships and confidence,” added Jessica.


061- 358088


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 www.litmt.ie


Limerick Panto Society’s Snow White


Limerick Panto Society’s (LPS) much anticipated production of Snow White starring Emma O’Driscoll, will take place at the Lime Tree Theatre from December 28 to January 8.

Making Christmases magical since it’s foundation in 1985, this will be the society’s 32nd show, produced by Tony Cusack, it promises to fulfil the LPS reputation as a fun family entertainment show, that supports and discovers local talent and will have a charity night in aid of Enable Ireland.

Emma, who has performed with the LPS many times before and is well known to Limerick audiences, has worked as a presenter for RTE children’s television for many years, and last year launched her Limerick based Stage School, Gem Stars.

Starring the renowned Panto Dame, Tim Cusack, and with an original script by John Finn who is also performing in the show, this production will have a unique spin on the fairytale, as Snow White meets colourful characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, Harry Potter and Hermione.

Also starring Laura Hunt, Grainne McCarthy, Thomas Coneran, Damian Shaw, Keith McGuane, Stuart Mackey, Issey Fenton, Yasmin McGarvey, Shauna O’Halloran, Paul Fitzgerald, from Limerick’s 95FM Radio Breakfast Show, and Paul O’Farrell who will both make their debut performances with LPS.

With a live orchestra under the Musical Direction of Michael Hinchy, a chorus of over 50 and performances by students of Expressive Arts and Spotlight Stage Schools, it will be an evening or matinee of all round musical and comedy entertainment, to lighten the spirit and spread Christmas cheer and merriment.

Tickets are available from www.limetreetheatre.ie

For more information see www.limerickpanto.com