Youth Orchestra and brass band join forces in Glenties

The Donegal Youth Orchestra will cap a wonderful few weeks with an end-of-year concert at the Highlands Hotel in Glenties on Sunday week (20th) at 3pm.

The orchestra, conducted by the well-known composer, conductor and performer Vincent Kennedy from Dublin, will be joined by the Glenties Brass Band for what promises to be a special musical occasion.

This will be the last DYO performance for six members, who are doing their Leaving Certificate and heading off to third-level. They include the orchestra leader, Jennifer Kilcoyne, Letterkenny. There are more than sixty musicians in total in the DYO, aged between 12 – 18 and drawn from throughout the county.

Donegal Youth Orchestra, conductor Victor Kennedy, on stage at the National Concert Hall to close the Festival of Youth Orchestras.

Glenties has a special significance for the DYO. The orchestra’s first conductor was the late Jim Rafferty, who taught music in St Columba’s Comprehensive School and lived locally. Jim also set up the Brass Band in the 1980s, as well as conducting the St Connell’s Church Choir for more than 30 years.

It’s been a busy time for the DYO. Most recently they played a starring role in ‘A Year in Donegal’, a remarkable concert at An Grianan on Sunday 18th March celebrating Vincent Kennedy’s ten years as the orchestra’s conductor. Vincent reckons that, between rehearsals and performances, he’s spent more than a full year in the county.

Another big performance came at the National Concert Hall on Saturday 10th February, when the DYO closed the Festival of Irish Youth Orchestras.

The DYO were on Arranmore Island in September to perform during the Peadar O’Donnell Islanders Weekend.

Mary Armitage, Creeslough, who has supported the orchestra for many years, says she’s delighted the DYO is coming back to Glenties.

“Jim Rafferty has a special place in the hearts of everyone involved with the Donegal Youth Orchestra. Of course, his memory lives on now in the Jim Rafferty Foundation, which raises funds for music in Donegal. It has already donated a marvellous selection of new instruments to the Donegal Music Education Partnership, which runs the orchestra.

“We’re all looking forward to a lovely afternoon of music in a fine space at the Highlands. And we’re so pleased that the Glenties Brass Band is up-and-running again and joining us.”

Some of the orchestra members who are leaving will be giving individual or duet performances during the concert, as is tradition with the DYO. The departing musicians are violinists Jennifer Kilcoyne, Cora Bond, Eimear McDwyer (all Letterkenny) and Matthew Geever (Ramelton); clarinettist Liam Smith and flautist Kevin Boyle (both Donegal Town area). It’s also a farewell concert for Aina Branchat Puig, from Catalonia, who’ll be heading home after finishing the school year at Abbey VS, Donegal Town.

Tuba player Kevin Gavigan (Glenties) is also doing his Leaving but it’s hoped he’ll stay in the orchestra if he goes on to further study locally.

The DYO is one of 11 performing groups of the Donegal Music Education Partnership, which is part of the Donegal Education and Training Board. The DMEP delivers music tuition, mostly classical, to around 500 young people across Donegal.

Concert tickets are available at the door, which opens at 2.45pm on Sunday week – €10 for adults (€5 concession) and €5 for under-18s, with a family ticket (2 + 2) costing €20. Anyone who’d like more information should contact Aisling or Martin at the Donegal Music Education Partnership at 07491 76293 or