SMILING IN THE SUN Cellist Ailish Walsh from the Octagon Ensemble and Nellie Smyth from Louisburgh Music School, who’ll be performing ‘Singing in the Rain’.
The Octagon Ensemble – Westport’s community orchestra – along with Louisburgh Voices and students of Louisburgh Music School are marking their return to live performance with a concert at Westport Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday next, June 28.
Like orchestras across the country, the Octagon Ensemble had to put their concert plans on hold for two years due to the pandemic. Now, they’re back on stage to perform classical favourites by Beethoven and Handel; the concert will include Handel’s beautiful aria ‘Ombra mai fù’, with soloist Louise Noble.
The Octagon Ensemble was founded by violinist Patrick Early in 2016, to promote string playing in the Westport area, and provide opportunities for young players and adults to rehearse and perform together; this ethos remains at the heart of the ensemble. The Octagon Ensemble has been based at the Town Hall Theatre since its foundation, with support from director Rosaleen Molloy, and continues to rehearse there on Monday evenings. It has given several concerts at the Theatre, collaborating with many local musicians. For this concert, it will be conducted by Pauline Graham, who has been working with the Ensemble last October.
Pauline will also be conducting Louisburgh Voices, a mixed-voice adult choir which she founded in 2018. Louisburgh Voices presented the first opera produced in Louisburgh – ‘Dido and Aeneas’ – in 2019, and has taken part in the Mayo Choral Festival, as well as collaborating with Cór Mhaigh Eo for a memorable performance of Fauré’s Requiem at Ballintubber Abbey.
Louisburgh Voices will be singing a chorus from Verdi’s opera Nabucco, one from Les Misérables (‘Do You Hear The People Sing?’) and joining with the Octagon Ensemble to perform Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’.
Pauline believes that, after an absence of two years, this concert brings a feeling of celebration: “Musicians and audiences missed live concerts during the lockdowns and for many people, music – recorded or online – lifted our spirits during a very challenging time. So our summer concert celebrates the power of music to bring us together, and celebrates the dedication of all the local musicians involved - from the very youngest (age nine!) to the adults.”
Students of Louisburgh Music School will taking part, performing a varied programme of songs from stage and screen, operatic arias by Mozart and Handel, and piano solos by Einaudi and Schumann.
Louisburgh Music School was established by Pauline Graham and Michael Quinn in 2017, with the aim of bringing high-quality tuition in voice, piano, and music theory to students of all ages. Their students come from Louisburgh, Westport and surrounding areas – from Clare Island to Castlebar – and have achieved success in student concerts, in musical theatre (such as Castlebar Musical & Dramatic society’s production of Annie), in national competitions, graded exams, Junior and Leaving Cert music practical exams, but most of all in their own musical journey and self-confidence.
This concert will include prizewinners of musical theatre competitions at the Speech and Drama Teachers of Ireland national Feis, held in Dublin in March, along with traditional tunes from Irish flute and tin whistle students of Natasha Gibbons.
Tickets (€15/€10) are available from Westport Town Hall Theatre box office on 098 28459 and online at www.westporttheatre.com.