Youth Orchestra work with renowned composer Irvine

Members of the Julianstown Youth Orchestra at the event with Northern Ireland composer Brian Irvine.

Members of the Julianstown Youth Orchestra at the event with Northern Ireland composer Brian Irvine.

THERE WAS a treat in store for the members of the Julianstown Youth Orchestra at one of their recent rehearsals when they had the privilege to welcome the wonderful Northern Ireland composer Brian Irvine, a unique figure in Irish music, who arrived to take the rehearsal.

Born in Belfast, Brian Irvine’s huge body of work includes orchestral works, chamber music, operas, film scores as well as solo and ensemble pieces.

The orchestra (over 50 strong) were thrilled with the exercises and guidance they received from Brian who captured and held their attention throughout the rehearsal. There was much laughter and some very unusual musical techniques and exercises.

There has been other good news for the orchestra which has just received a grant of €9,000 and have purchased new strings and percussion which they are lending out to students.

The group will soon have over 70 members, and founder and conductor Fergus Sheil is opening up a whole new world of experiences and opportunities for these youngsters.

There is also now have a junior string orchestra which consists of the younger, newer players who are being primed for entry into the full orchestra.

The orchestra plan to perform in the Drogheda are in the near future so watch out for their appearances. The first one is at 7.30pm on 30th March as pre-concert entertainment for ‘Niamh Browne and Friends in Concert’ in St Peter’s Church of Ireland.

Their end of year concert is being held in May and more information on that will be available in due course.

RTE Concert Orchestra


Pre-concert performance by Julianstown Youth Orchestra, 7.15pm

Programme: Beethoven – Glass – Rossini

Three of the greatest works of the orchestral repertoire – Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Philip Glass’ 1st Violin Concerto and Rossini’s William Tell Overture performed live by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra with soloist Ioana Petcu-Colan and conductor Fergus Sheil.

The dramatic opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony “Fate knocking at the door” sets the scene for a work which is often seen as a battle between darkness and light – a musical journey that is forceful, lyrical, urgent, reflective, mysterious and ultimately triumphant. Rossini’s William Tell is the crowning achievement of his career, and its overture is his most famous work. The final gallop section has been borrowed by many people – fromThe Lone Ranger to Bugs Bunny!

Philip Glass is one of today’s most celebrated composers, famous for his early works for the Philip Glass Ensemble and for his more recent film scores such as A Brief History of Time and The Hours. His violin concerto is one of his most compelling orchestral works, combining his familiar minimalist style with a strong sense of lyricism and expression.


15 December 2011

Music Network today announced the results of the Music Capital Scheme. A total of €135,000 in funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht has been awarded to ten highly skilled individual musicians and thirteen non-professional performing groups.
In 2011, there were two categories of support under the Music Capital Scheme aimed at professional performing artists and non-professional performing groups/ensembles.  The scheme elicited eighty-two applications across two funding streams with the value of funding requests totalling in excess of €893,227.
Funding was awarded across the not-for-profit and community music sector through Stream 1, providing community and music groups with funding.  Thirteen of the fifty-six applicants were awarded a total of €90,000 for the purchase of musical instruments in stream one. The awardees are Coolmine Therapeutic Community; MaSamba Samba School; Roscommon County Youth Orchestra ; New Ross and District Pipe Band; Co. Wexford Youth Orchestra; Julianstown Youth Orchestra; Liffey Valley Orchestra; Clondalkin Youth Band; Loch Garman Band; St Canice’s NS Instrumental Music Programme; Coole Music & Arts; Inbhear Mór Marching Band and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Killarney.

In Stream 2, funds of €45,000 were awarded to ten highly skilled musicians performing at professional level, to assist with the purchase of high-value instruments. The ten awardees were chosen from twenty-six applicants.  The awardees are Annette Cleary; Anna Cashell; Jesse Smith; Patrick Brunnock; Jessie Grimes; Matthew Noone; Shane Latimer; Barry Donohue; Eamon Sweeney and Naomi Berrill.

The Music Capital Scheme was launched by The Arts Council, The IRMA Trust and Music Network in 2008 as an action-research initiative designed to provide support for the purchase of musical instruments.  Due to the current economic climate, the award fund available was €135,000, rather than the €300,000 anticipated. Details of all awards made under the scheme can be seen at  Music Network is funded by The Arts Council.

Stream 1: Non-professional performing groups/ensembles
Fifty-six applications received with a total demand of €746,098. Awards made to thirteen applicants as follows:

1.    Coolmine Therapeutic Community, Dublin awarded €806
2.    MaSamba Samba School, Dublin awarded €2,958
3.    Roscommon County Youth Orchestra, Roscommon      awarded €12,610
4.    New Ross and District Pipe Band, Wexford  awarded €7,986
5.    Co. Wexford Youth Orchestra, Wexford awarded €9,540
6.    Julianstown Youth Orchestra, Meath      awarded €8,172
7.    Liffey Valley Orchestra, Kildare  awarded €5,500
8.    Clondalkin Youth Band, Dublin  awarded €6,372
9.    Loch Garman Band, Wexford  awarded €10,087
10.    St Canice’s NS Instrumental Music Programme, Kilkenny €5,856
11.    Coole Music & Arts, Wicklow awarded  €7,817
12.    Inbhear Mór Marching Band, Kerry  awarded €5,650
13.    Comhaltas Ceoltórí Éireann Killarney awarded €6,645

Julianstown Orchestra to make debut

Julianstown Junior Orchestra rehearsing for their debut concert this Sunday in the City North Hotel. Credit: Photo:
Julianstown Junior Orchestra rehearsing for their debut concert this Sunday in the City North Hotel.

Wednesday June 15 2011

IN just four short months, the boys and girls of the Julianstown Youth Orchestra have gone from taking their first tentative steps as a group, to holding their first public recital.

The inaugural concert takes place this Sunday in the City North Hotel, and the 30 or so members will showcase their work under the watchful baton of conductor Fergus Sheils, one of the most talented in his field in Ireland or beyond.

‘ We are delighted to be able to hold a concert already, and everyone is eager to show off what they have learned, and the parents are dying to see the fruits of their children’s labour,’ says Niamh Browne, spokeswoman for the orchestra, and mum of Jack on cello!

‘ The orchestra has been going from strength to strength since Fergus and his wife Maria, a flautist, started it in February, and we are so lucky to have someone with their talents backing us.’

Fergus, who is now with the Dublin and National Youth Orchestra, began orchestral conducting in 1989 when he formed the Trinity Chamber Orchestra while still at college.

Six years later, he won the BRI Conducting competition run by the National Association of Youth Orchestras in the UK, and has appeared in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the RTE Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia (UK), the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St Cecilia, Orchestra 2000 (Cape Town) and many other groups.

‘We have a great range of instruments – clarinets, cello, voilin, timpani, flute to name but a few, with 30 children in the orchestra, who rehearse in the parish rooms in the village from 9.15am to 10.15am each Saturday, although they’ve been adding an extra hour in the past few weeks, just to be perfect,’ adds Niamh.

‘ The concert will be around an hour long, with some ensemble pieces, the Surprise Symphony and some solos, duets and trios.’ The performance begins in the City North Hotel at 4pm and admission is e10 for adults and kids go free.

‘After their premiere, the vision is to find some more funding for the orchestra, and hopefully buy more of our own instruments for future members,’ says Niamh, who is also a professionally trained and very accomplished mezzo soprano.

‘We will take a break for the summer months, but anyone interested in joining should come along to the rehearsals when we meet again in September.’

More information can be found on their facebook page ‘Julianstown Youth Orchestra’.

– Alison COMYN

Julianstown to get its very own youth orchestra to rival the best

Four members of the proposed 'Julianstown Youth Orchestra' tune up.
Four members of the proposed ‘Julianstown Youth Orchestra’ tune up.

Wednesday February 02 2011

A CONDUCTOR with the Dublin and National Youth Orchestra is hoping to start a rival group on his very own doorstep in Julianstown.

Fergus Sheil and his wife Maria are both professional musicians, and would like to pass on some of their expertise to young players in the area.

‘ We already have 13 young people interested and we are meeting on Saturday mornings in the Parish Rooms between 9.20am and 10.20am,’ said Fergus.

‘ We are hoping this number can be expanded, and we will be able to get a proper youth orchestra on the go before long.’

The Dublin couple have been living in the Meath village for almost seven years and their two young children Emily and Jennifer are already on board with their instruments.

‘We are looking for all levels to join us from primary and secondary school,’ added Fergus, ‘and the only thing we ask is they must be in lessons at the moment, with their own instrument.

‘However, we will also advise anyone who is interested where to learn, or how to go about taking lessons, so please come along any Saturday morning to say hello.’

If you are playing string, piano, woodwind, or any orchestral instrument, why not give it a go, and who knows where you might find yourself playing.

‘We are both used to working with larger groups,’ said Fergus, who has also conducted the Australian Youth Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra.

‘This is the first model of its kind, but from small beginnings, who knows what might happen.’

All interested children and young people should go along to the Julianstown Parish Rooms every Saturday morning.

– Alison COMYN

Julianstown Youth Orchestra making waves in music world

Wednesday November 09 2011

FEW YOUTH orchestras can claim to having gone from stratch to opening for the RTE Concert Orchestra at a major event in under a year, but the boys and girls of Julianstown Youth Orchestra (JYO) can!

Since being established by renowned conductor Fergus Sheils last February, the JYO has gone from strength to strength, performing solo concerts of their own, as well as the latest honour, which will take place in The Solstice in Navan on November 10th.

‘We recently had a percussion sectional rehearsal when James Dunne from the RTE Concert Orchestra came to our Saturday morning rehearsals,’ said JYO PRO Niamh Mitchell, ‘ and the young people really had a great time, as well as learning from one of the best musicians in the country. ‘ The percussion rehearsal was in conjunction with the concert and we have already had one rehearsal with someone from the RTE Concert Orchestra and it was fantastic for the kids to have such a high calibre of musicians coming to us to give workshops and take rehearsals.’