Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cellist to cellist

It was always going to be inspirational, particularly for the cellos, to see someone who had started in their place performing as soloist with NYOI. All was going smoothly last week until our lovely soloist, Brian O'Kane, was hit down with an unfortunate 24 hour bug. You just can't plan for these things and it looked like our day of Kol nidrei rehearsals were out the window until we remembered that NYOI cellist Sinead had mentioned that she was working on Kol nidrei for a performance with the Cork School of Music Symphony Orchestra later in 2012. So Sinead filled in as soloist for an afternoon of rehearsals and blew everyone - including Gearóid Grant away.

Thankfully, a day later, Brian was back to full health and with us for rehearsals and then for a wonderful concert. However it just reminded me that there is a silver lining to every cloud. Sinead had an incredible opportunity to work on her own performance and then to learn from an outstanding young professional.

We caught up with Sinead and Brian in conversation after rehearsals. What was caught on camera was only the tip of the iceberg as I know that the chat went on throughout dinner as Sinead quizzed Brian for advice and tips.

NYOI Brian O'Kane interview from Zoe Coakley on Vimeo.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A blog from two of the newest members of NYOI

Every year the NYOI audition panel travel across Ireland to hear hundreds of young musicians hoping for a place in the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. Even if you have been in the orchestra before, you must re-audition. This keeps standards high and gives new musicians a chance to gain a place every year.

It's always really exciting to welcome new members to the NYOI family which has been expanding for over 40 years. This year we have been delighted to welcome 44 new members and today we hear from two violinists - Luke and Andrew - who have been talking about their experience of NYOI so far.

NYOI new musicians 2012 from Zoe Coakley on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A blog from the celli, by Ellen & Sinead

On the third day, we rose again; the five sleepy-heads of room 19. After nice hot showers and a rush to breakfast, rehearsals began yet again. But this time it was different. Finally all the strings had come together for the first time, after two days of sectionals. It was lovely to hear the full blend of string sound and hear how the melodies complimented the accompaniments. Only one more rehearsal until we would all come together as a family once again!

The excitement at lunch was immense (not only because it was pasta) but also because Gearóid Grant was in the building! At 13.45 we were all in our seats ready for tuning. Gearóid entered the hall to rapturous applause! And it was straight to work..

We began with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. We played through the whole piece (flawlessly, of course) and everyone was taken aback by how well it went, having never played together before. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm on everyone’s face, old and new, especially this year as we are delighted to welcome 44 new members!

When rehearsal ended, it was announced by Conor Palliser (one of our friendly staff members) that we shall be performing a J musical as tomorrow’s evening activity. Each section has their own scene, which they must make up themselves based on a few guidelines given to us by the staff. Let’s just say it promises to be an interesting show, with each section holding private meetings and rehearsals throughout the day to discuss costumes, props, lyrics etc.

After a very successful evening rehearsal, it was finally time for some relaxation (and some more musical rehearsals!). We reflected on the days accomplishments and went to bed feeling inspired and extremely excited about what tomorrow will bring!

Back to room 19, goodnight!

Ellen & Sinead

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Introducing NYOI 2012

Today, 92 young musicians arrived in Kilkenny from all corners of Ireland to start 6 days of intense rehearsals in preparation for their concert next Monday 2nd January at 3pm in the Helix. For more info on the concert or to book tickets click here.

In the meantime we'll give you a peek behind the scenes of the NYOI course throughout our week of rehearsals.

We'll start by introducing you to the orchestra...

A few stats on NYOI 2012
There are 92 musicians in the orchestra
The youngest is 12, the oldest is 18
20 counties are represented: Antrim, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Waterford, Westmeath, Wicklow, Cork
There are 8 sets of brothers & sisters in the orchestra
Each year everyone must re-audition for NYOI, this year's orchestra sees the return of 48 musicians from last year and welcomes 44 new members
There are 56 girls and 36 boys

Meet the orchestra

1st violins - tutored by Brona Fitzgerald
David, Colma, William, Anna Livia, Molly, Luke, Phoebe, Claire, David, Emma, Emer, Saffron, Abbie, Rebecca, Richard & Breanainn

2nd violins - tutored by Ken Rice
Devin, Conor, Abbie, Aisling, Andrew, Mark, Abbie, Elizabeth, Chan, Hannah, Jessica, Maggie, Johanna, Molly, Jessica, Sarah

violas - tutored by Lisa Grosman
Martin, Aoife, Martha, Ciara, Harriet, Theo, Philip, Meabh, Ciara, Iseult

cellos - tutored by Bill Butt
Sinead, Rory, Patrick, Genevieve, Ellen, Jessie, Cormac, Caitriona, Jacqui, Lucy, Siobhan, Meabhdh

double basses - tutored by Aura Stone
Aisling, Niall, Sophie, Daire, Amy

flutes - tutored by Catriona Ryan
Amy, Mary-Ellen, Michéal, Cian

oboes - tutored by Ronan O'Reilly
Lukas, Hugh, Deirdre

clarinets - tutored by Paul Roe
Seamus, Cian, Fionnuala, Ciara

bassoons - tutored by Ates Kirkan
Ronan, Aisling, John

horns - tutored by Lesley Bishop
Peter, Eimear, Caoime, Louise, Donal

trumpets - tutored by David Collins
Patrick, Paul, Christian, Senan

trombones & tuba - tutored by Paul Frost
Clara, Conall, Adam, Conall

percussion - tutored by Richard O'Donnell
Clare, Conall, Seán, Siobhan

harps - tutored by Andreja Malir
Meabh and Clara

After travelling the country and meeting hundreds of young musicians at auditions and after hundreds of emails and phonecalls, it's so exciting to see NYOI together for the first time this year.

Tomorrow we're going to follow a section of the orchestra for a day to show you what a day in the life of an NYOI musician looks like. Leave us a comment here or on our facebook page and let us know which section of the orchestra's shoes you'd like to walk in for a day?!

Over and out for day 1!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Musical Exhibition Part One

If you have been following the NYOI 2012 season plans you will know that we have a very special performance of Mussorsgky's Pictures at an Exhibition in January 2012, if not click here for more info.

The first part of this project was for the NYOI team and and the National Gallery Education Team to design a workshop that would inspire primary school children to create their own piece of art inspired by Pictures at an Exhibition (the music!) and the collection at the National Gallery of Ireland (the art!). In October, children from Cherry Orchard National School were invited to the National Gallery and with clip boards and crayons at the ready they were guided around the gallery and listened to the music. Eimear Saunders, music teacher at Cherry Orchard Performing Arts Club, writes below about the experience.

"Here in Cherry Orchard, the preparations for our role in the NYOI concert started in September. In COPAC (Cherry Orchard Performing Arts Club), the theme for this term is Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at An Exhibition’. We hit the ground running, and from our first session we made it our mission to get to know the piece from as many different angles as possible. In our orchestra class we have been learning ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’, in our singing group we’ve been learning ‘The Old Castle’ and in our art class we practised drawing portraits in preparation for what would be the big event of the term. We also listened to some of the other movements and talked about what we thought the music could be about.

All of our exploration and hard work proved worthwhile when we had the privilege of visiting the National Gallery. We were welcomed by Libby, Brina and Aoibheann and armed with pencils, crayons and paper, we got to work. First of all we listened to some movements from the piece, this time letting our pencils move with the music, coming up with some very interesting designs in the process! Then we got to see some of the Gallery’s fabulous paintings starting with the drama of Denby’s ‘The Opening of the Sixth Seal. We looked at paintings that matched the themes from ‘Pictures’ and sketched aspects of each one.

After we visited the gallery, it was the gallery’s turn to visit us, and art tutor Libby came to see us in COPAC. There we put together our designs from listening to the music along with the different aspects we had sketched from the paintings in the gallery, to create our very own ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’."

‘Going to the National Gallery was a dream come true for me’

Isn't this just fab?! I love Caitlin's quote at the end and having visited the Gallery with the school group I know that they were all totally captivated by the music and the fantastic stories behind the artwork. Well done to Libby (the art tutor) and Eimear (author of the above and music tutor) for all their hard work and for making it so enjoyable for the kids!

The finshed art work has now arrived in the NYOI office and I am so excited about having a look through it and working on the big unveiling of this work alongside NYOI's performance on Monday 2nd January 2012!

Until the next time...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Details of the 2011/2012 season announced and find out how you can get involved

The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland’s upcoming season offers unrivalled opportunities to learn and perform great symphonic music with new friends. Along the way you will be mentored by some of the finest professional orchestral musicians in Ireland and work under the baton of professional conductors.

Talking about conductors, yesterday, listeners to RTÉ lyric fm's Lunchtime Classics were given a preview of what is to come for the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland in their 2011/2012 season. Liz Nolan interviewed Zoe Keers, General Manager of NYOI, and Lukas O'Brien, oboist with NYOI and announced the very exciting news that Principal Conductor of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Alan Buribayev, is to conduct NYOI next summer! Buribayev's wonderful insight into Russian repertoire will make the learning and performance of Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 an incredible experience for Ireland's finest young musicians.

NYOI is proud of the thousands of young musicians who have graduated through our orchestras over the last 41 years and this year we are delighted to welcome back three NYOI Alumni of outstanding promise: Brian O’Kane (cello), Fiona Kelly (flute) and Jean Kelly (harp).

Sisters Fiona and Jean Kelly look forward to returning to NYOI next summer, this time as soloists in Mozart's Concerto for flute and harp. Fiona Kelly, who has been hailed by the New York Times as a player with “impressive technique and elegant musicianship”, recently completed her Master’s degree at The Juilliard School, New York, studying with Robert Langevin. Fiona won first prize in The Juilliard School Flute Competition and performed Bernstein’s ‘Halil’ with The Juilliard Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky at The Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, Lincoln Center. Jean Kelly leads a busy life as a professional harpist. Jean regularly tours with the Locrian Ensemble performing harp concertos and her own arrangements of Irish music and has recorded three CD's with the group. In 2011 Jean was invited to Dublin to play for the historic visit of HM Queen Elizabeth II. She has also played at Buckingham Palace for HRH Prince Charles' birthday and has played harp on several film scores including 'The Lord of the Rings'.

The first NYOI meeting of the season will take place, as usual, during the Christmas holidays. A new group of young musicians will once again start the season under the baton of NYOI's wonderful conductor Gearóid Grant to prepare for a performance of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Bruch's Kol nidrei with cellist Brian O'Kane. A busy soloist and chamber musician, Brian came to prominence by taking first prize at the Windsor Festival International String Competition and is also a former prizewinner of the Haverhill Sinfonia and Royal Overseas League Competitions. In early 2008, Brian won the Prince’s Prize of the Worshipful Company of Musicians and is a former winner of the Accenture Bursary Award and Camerata Ireland Young Musician Award. In that same year, Brian performed with Camerata Ireland in Dublin’s National Concert Hall under Barry Douglas and with the Philharmonia Orchestra at Highgrove before the Prince of Wales. He recently appeared again with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy at the 2009 Windsor Festival.

NYOI's 2011/2012 Season promises to be the pinnacle of orchestral experience for young musicians ages 12-18 in Ireland. From exciting repertoire to inspirational conductors and soloists who started where you are - what are you waiting for?! Applications for audition open on Monday 5th September and close on Monday 17th October. Application forms will be available from our website on Monday 5th September.

We look forward to receiving your application!