Donegal young musicians impress on national stage

Young musicians from Donegal have been impressing on the national stage in recent days – from the National Concert Hall in Dublin to a Music Generation showcase in Carlow.

The Donegal Youth Orchestra won many new friends with a marvellous performance at the NCH to close the annual Festival of Youth Orchestras. The 70-strong orchestra got a standing ovation after performing part of a suite ‘Irishmen and Irishwomen’ composed by their conductor Vincent Kennedy.

Ten traditional musicians from the county took part in Music @ Mount Leinster, a high-profile trad camp in Borris, County Carlow, organised by Music Generation. The Donegal group got a wonderful reception for their set at the closing concert in the Step House Hotel.

Both trips were organised by the Donegal Music Education Partnership, part of the Donegal Education and Training Board.

The Donegal Youth Orchestra with conductor Vincent Kennedy on stage at the National Concert Hall.

Martin McGinley of the DMEP said the young musicians involved did Donegal proud.

“It really is a golden time for music in Donegal, with so many young people excelling in music right across the county,” he said. “The Donegal Youth Orchestra played out of their skins on the stage of the Concert Hall. Great credit must go to their conductor Vincent Kennedy and to that great supporter of the orchestra, Mary Armitage.

“Those at the concert included the chief executive of Donegal ETB, Anne McHugh, and one of those responsible for founding our music project, Sister Concepta Murphy. It was great to have so many parents and family members in the audience.

“In Carlow, we had young musicians from trad schools in Moville, Culdaff, Letterkenny and Gortahork. They’d never played together before but they worked very well with their tutor, James Mahon, and delivered a great set at the closing concert.

“James, who has toured the world with the band Kila, was so impressed that he’s hoping to work with them all again.

“These were two great opportunities for these developing musicians and they grabbed them with both hands. Their performances showed that Donegal is up there with the best when it comes to developing young musical talent.”

The Donegal group pictured before taking the stage at Music @ Mount Leinster in Borris, County Carlow – back, from left, Caitlin Kennedy, Maeve Gillen, Affraic Brophy, Ella McGrory, tutor James Mahon and Paul Gillespie; front, Neil Kennedy, Ronan Kelly, Jamesie Wray, Dan McLachlan and Kieva McGonagle.