Bad weather and icy road conditions had forced the rescheduling of this event showcasing the work of an inclusive music project in West Clare schools
I was delighted to catch it having heard good reports about Máiréad Ní Chondúin's work and it was fortuitous that I met Maireid and husband Jim Armour at a choral event the previous day .
There were two concerts lasting an hour or so and I heard the older group made up of 3rd to 6th classes from 5 West Clare schools. The Junior Group under the theme title Songs From the Music Ark included familiar songs Shoe the Donkey, Dilin O Deamhas, Ill Tell me Ma, The Big Ship Sails, Bingo and Tingalayo in a set list of more than a dozen songs.
The Music Train featured a good mix of familiar Irish favourites , ethnic folk songs, standards and newly composed songs with an interlude of some trad tunes by instrumentalists. How lovely to hear Clare schoolkids singing Beidh Aonach Amarach i gContae an Chlair . The group numbered about 150 children dressed in brightly coloured tie dyed tee shirts in a variety of colours . At one point a dozen or so kids disappeared into the wings to pick up their instruments. More impressive however was that every child wore a tin whistle around their neck and contributed to an instrumental item , so this element of the programme was not limited to those accessing extra curricular music tuition.
A vital element of the production were the steps which allowed every child to be seen easily.
The was a good sized band which added much colour to the proceedings . I loved the saxophone (Adam Daniel) and flute (Martin Conway) lines in Engine Engine . Legendary musicians Chris Droney on concertina and Peadar OLoughlin on fiddle (joined by the fabulous fiddler Maeve Donnelly) were in the pit to support their grandchildren.
Theatrically attired Aisling O Gorman arrived on stage pushing a shopping trolley of novelty instruments to lead a bit of audience participation . This didn't work very well for me . The audience were just not that inclined to participate and it is difficult to for a performer to connect with the audience with the house lights down. The kids lost focus when the spotlight was off them for more than 30 seconds and the segment would have benefitted from being trimmed a bit.
The venue was ideal for this type of event and accommodated the large group of children and family members comfortably and there was a pleasant buzz in the foyer afterwards ( although no coffee) I have no doubt , the occasion will provide memories to treasure by these young performers
Well done Maireid and team . Wishing you well as you carry the project forward into 2011
Music Train Set List Hello Hello Hello, Engine Engine, Banaha, Kye Kye Kule, Siyahambe, Rainbow Girl, Peanuts,
Rock Around the World ,The Multicoloured Allstars, Beidh Aonach Amarach, The Water is Wide, Siege of Ennis Fa la la Leird, The Maid Behind the Bar, Nead na Lachan, Rhythmof Life