Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Clarendon Chorale with Ronan McDonagh

Photos of St. Teresa's Church, Dublin
Just off Grafton St
Dublin was a hive of musical activity last weekend and we enjoyed the beginning  of an incredible Schubert odyssey  and the festive fun of an  annual youth orchestra extravaganza at the NCH.  Not too far away from the salubrious spaces of the National  Concert Hall, some of the finest  musical exponents in the land  were hidden away in lofts where without the  applause and the standing ovations they literally pulled out all the stops to give their audience a 'swell' musical experience. I refer of course to that modest but supreme band of musicians who play not only with their hearts and hands but also with their feet--the organists .

 The unimposing entrance to St Theresa's Church is tucked away on a laneway off Grafton St  and here, composer, Ronan McDonagh, one of the most pre-eminent  of this band of organists has been musical director for more than two decades. I went along on the last Sunday before Lent to hear his carefully chosen blend  of plainchant, Renaissance polyphony  and Classical and contemporary Irish settings . You can see  McDonagh conduct his own composition heard on Sunday 'Come Adore This Wondrous Presence in the video below.

Programme 5th Sunday  St Theresa's 
It was good to see the words of the opening hymn Christ Be Near at Either Hand  printed in the Mass leaflet to encourage congregational involvement  The emphasis on plainchant continued to the end with a recessional Salve Regina.The choir consisted of a dozen or so highly proficient voices with Mary O Sullivan a clear and lovely  soloist in Mozart's Laudate Dominum . Clearly  the choir succeeded in the mission statement on the church  website From the outset the choir has sought' to fulfil its liturgical function in the fullest way possible.' McDonagh as  director  manages to be innovative and yet preserve a solid sense of  a solemn and rich classical tradition. In his own  work he combines elements that draw on sacred and native Irish elements  that seems to resonate particularly well with Irish congregations.  His airs A Iosa Mhic Mhuire and Suile an Choilm are favourites in my sacred  repertoire and never fail to evoke a response.


I missed the opening as I stopped to chat (as Gaeilge ) to Seosamhín who was a very cheerful sight on a very rainy morning. Undeterred by the inclement weather, she offered a hymn to the elements on her accordion 'neath an umbrella bearing the slogan I Love Ireland.  Go hiontach - Maith thú Seoisamhin.!

** I realise on reviewing the year highlights that I omitted to acknowledge that the choir at St Theresa's is conducted by Grainne Gormley.    post amended 11 Jan 2014
Post amended  

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