World premiere at Conwal Church concert

The composer of a new piece of music being premiered in Letterkenny next weekend has said it draws its inspiration from the sounds of Donegal and the experience of living in the county.

‘This is Real’ has been written by John McLachlan, one of Ireland’s best-known contemporary composers. He lives near Redcastle in Inishowen. The piece will be performed in Conwal Church in Letterkenny on Sunday week (21st) at 3pm.

The world premiere will feature the renowned Robinson Panoramic Quartet (above), who are based in Dublin, with the Donegal Chamber Orchestra. There is also a recorded part, with Donegal voices and sounds from the Donegal landscape.

John McLachlan (pictured above with the DMEP’s Martin McGinley) said: “Donegal is a big presence in ‘This is Real’. That presence is most obvious in the recorded sounds, which come from beaches, fields, even cafes in Donegal. But the parts for quartet and chamber orchestra are also drawn from ideas and feelings about the county. So it’s great to have the first performance here.”

The new work has been commissioned by the Donegal Music Education Partnership with the assistance of the Arts Council. The DMEP is part of Donegal Education and Training Board.

The concert at Conwal Church will also feature a second world premiere. The Robinson Panoramic Quartet will give the first performance of ‘Absence’ by composer Derek Ball. Derek, who lives in Glasgow and is originally from Letterkenny, is expected to attend the concert.

He composed ‘Absence’ recently as a gift for cellist Victor Yélamo and his wife, the violinist Orsolya Szabo-Yélamo. Victor conducts the Donegal Chamber Orchestra and Orsolya is its leader.

Martin McGinley, of the Donegal Music Education Partnership, said the concert is a very special one for music in Donegal.

“To have one world premiere is an honour, to have two makes it an even more remarkable occasion,” he said. “It’s also wonderful for our musicians in the Donegal Chamber Orchestra, and in particular our talented young students, to get a chance to work with John McLachlan and play with the Robinson Panoramic Quartet.”

The Donegal Chamber Orchestra (above, with conductor Victor Yélamo and leader Orsi Szabo-Yélamo on right) is one of the eleven performing groups of the DMEP. It is a mix of adult and student musicians.

The Robinson Panoramic Quartet is based in Dublin. All four members are top Irish-based classical players – Malachy Robinson, double bass, and Robin Panter, viola, who both play with the Irish Chamber Orchestra; Malachy’s wife Anita Vedres, violin, a member of the Irish Baroque Orchestra; and Kate Ellis on cello, who’s artistic director of the acclaimed contemporary music group, the Crash Ensemble.

The Donegal Chamber Orchestra will open the concert in Conwal Church with a selection of works by some of the best-known classical composers. The Robinson Panoramic Quartet will continue with a work by English composer David Knotts (1972 – ) called ‘Night Song and Garden Quadrille’ before giving the world premiere of Derek Bell’s ‘Absence’. The concert will conclude with the world premiere of John McLachlan’s ‘This is Real’.

Admission is €10 (€5 concession). For more information contact the DMEP on 074 91 76293 or email

The RPQ will give a second performance of ‘This is Real’ in the Sugar Club in Dublin on Thursday 1st February as part of the ‘Kaleidoscope Night’ concert series.