New Colmcille suite on closing night

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Dublin-based composer and conductor Vincent Kennedy says he’s delighted that his new work ‘St Colmcille, Dove of Peace’ will close this year’s Earagail Arts Festival in Letterkenny this weekend.

Photo: Courtesy of John Soffe

The work will be performed at An Grianán Theatre on Sunday, 24th July at 8pm. The performers are the Donegal Youth Orchestra, the Donegal Youth Choir, soloists and a narrator.

Vincent, long-time conductor of the Donegal Youth Orchestra, said he was delighted with the reaction to the new work at its world premiere in the theatre in April.

“It was the end of a long and very enjoyable journey – researching the life of such an exceptional man, using that for inspiration, and finally preparing for a performance with a very talented group of soloists and young musicians.

“It was only right that it should be a Donegal showcase. The premiere got a great reception from the audience. It’s exciting to get another opportunity to perform the work.”

The soloists involved are all back for the second performance. These include three exceptional solo singers – Sara Laughlin from Leitirmacaward; Aodhan Gavigan, Glenties; and Nodlaig Ní Bhrollaigh, originally from Dungiven, who’s also playing harp.  

Performing solos on uilleann pipes will be one of the county’s most talented young musicians, Paul Gillespie, Letterkenny. He’s also playing cello in the orchestra.

One of Donegal’s leading pianists Evan McGarrigle will also be on stage, while musician and actor Megan Armitage will be narrator.

‘St Colmcille – Dove of Peace’ tells the story of the life of the saint, who was born in Gartan 1500 years ago last December. The pieces include ‘The Birth Cloak’, ‘Monasteries and Chieftains’, ‘Iona’, ‘Trasna go Dál Riada’, ‘Nessie and Colmcille’, and ‘The Musical Priest’.

This second performance is being supported by Donegal County Council through its Arts Service. Arts Officer Traolach Ó Fionnáin said the Council been involved with ‘St Colmcille – Dove of Peace’ from the beginning.

“The work was commissioned jointly by Donegal County Council and Donegal Music Education Partnership, with the help of funding from Creative Ireland. It was part of a programme of events in 2021 and 2022, marking the 1500th anniversary of the birth of one of Ireland’s greatest saints. Colmcille played such an important role in the religious life of both Ireland and Scotland. The premiere was a wonderful occasion. This oratorio from Vincent is an exceptional tribute to Colmcille. We are delighted that the public will now have another opportunity to enjoy it as part of the Earagail Arts Festival.”

 Also very much involved in the concert on Sunday week is the Donegal Music Education Partnership, which looks after both the Donegal Youth Orchestra and the Donegal Youth Choir. The DMEP is the music service of the Donegal Education and Training Board

John McIvor, the DMEP administrator, said that performing groups are still recovering after two years with little live performance. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our young musicians and singers. They get a chance to perform and also to hear these soloists at close quarters. The occasion underlines how fortunate we are to have Vincent as orchestra conductor, and to have an outstanding soprano Sara Laughlin as choir conductor.”

Donegal Music Education Partnership presents St Colmcille, Dove of Peace at An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, this Sunday, 24th July, at 8pm. To prebook your tickets, click here.

Earagail Arts Festival is kindly supported by Donegal County Council, Arts Council Ireland & Wild Atlantic Way

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