MUSIC Bofeenaun hosts seventh classical concert

Going Out
A touch of class for Bofeenaun

Anton McNulty

THE hills around the quiet north Mayo village of Bofeenaun will come alive to the sound of Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner for the seventh summer Mayo classical concert.
The tiny village of Bofeenaun, situated between Ballina and Castlebar, is a most unusual setting for a high-calibre classical concert. This is no grand European venue. Bofeenaun is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ type of village with one church, one school, a hall and no pub. Yet,  for the last seven years, it has played host to some of the most talented classical musicians in Europe.
This July the seventh Mayo Classical Concert will take place in Bofeenaun church, the pews of which will be packed with visitors from all over Mayo and abroad for two nights. This year, Ballina resident Iain King, who has played with the Philharmonic Orchestra (first violin) and with the British Chamber Orchestra (assistant lead violinist), will be joined by Robert Irvine, who was the principal cellist with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and by London pianist Caroline Clemmow (whose sister, oboe player Katie played piano last year).
The unusual thought of staging a classical concert in Bofeenaun was started by the local postmaster, Thomas Rowland, whose sister, Joan is married to Iain King. Thomas persuaded Iain to play in the parish church, and through the latter’s contacts has been able to persuade some of the most talented classical musicians to travel to north Mayo.
What started out as a small one-night only event has now grown into a weekend-long festival, with tickets now in huge demand. Speaking to The Mayo News, Thomas Rowland discussed the event’s growing popularity and prestige: “People come from all over Europe for the concert … Iain King is a brother-in-law of mine, and we thought we should make use of his talents and put on a concert in the church. It started out as a one-night event but has become extremely popular with 320 packed into the church each night.
“This has become one of the most prestigious events in the county. We get all types of people coming to hear the music,” he explained.
The concert is a great opportunity for local people to hear highly acclaimed musicians play in a relaxed and informal setting, and Thomas explained that this is one of the reasons why it has become so successful.
“The music is very easy to listen to and there is great variety to it. This is a unique rural setting and the musicians have a good laugh and a joke with the audience and that is what has made the festival so successful over the years.
“People enjoy themselves and come out with a smile on their face. A lot of young people come to it from all over Ireland and I would say that of the people who came in the first year, 70 per cent come back.”
Since the concerts first started it has become a real community effort with everyone getting involved to make sure it runs smoothly and is a success. Fittlingly, all the money raised goes towards the enhancement of the village.
This year’s concert takes place on Saturday, July 10, and Monday, July 12, starting at 8pm on both nights. There will also be a cheese and wine reception. Tickets, €20 each, are selling fast.

For further information or to book tickets, contact Thomas Rowland at Bofeenaun Post Office on 096 51006.

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