An Island Sings is a project that spanned almost 2 years in the making, and covered the length and breadth of the island with choirs from Donegal, Cork, Mayo, Kildare, Leitrim and Monaghan (Cór Mhaigh Eo, The Conwal Singers, Millennium Choir, Nás na Rí Singers, The Oriel Singers, Viva Voce). In planning the project, Sing Ireland and Chamber Choir Ireland wanted to offer community choirs from throughout the island the opportunity to perform a large scale work together, drawing strength in numbers, as well as the opportunity to perform a newly commissioned work – something that most of the community choirs are unable to do independently. From humble beginnings, we were delighted to present over 250 singers together with Chamber Choir Ireland, in the world premiere of Elaine Agnew and Jessica Traynor’s An Island Sings.
The singers participated in workshops with Elaine and Jessica during the creation and writing of the piece, have were put through their paces as singers from Chamber Choir Ireland visited the choirs for coaching sessions, and all attended a whirlwind rehearsal day two weeks before concert day under maestro Christopher Bell in preparation for the performance.
Ireland is gifted with a vibrant and energised choral community – from school choirs, youth choirs, community choirs, workplace choirs, healthcare setting choirs through to our national youth choir (Irish Youth Choir) and its chamber and training choirs, amateur and semiprofessional choirs, and our national chamber choir, Chamber Choir Ireland. This performance celebrated just a small element of all that is great about choral singing in our country – and what better way to celebrate than with one of the world’s leading choral conductors, Christopher Bell in our National Concert Hall.
Some thoughts from singers who participated:
'It was a marvelous experience. At 77 years old, did find it rather tiring. Early rising, Long bus trip from Cork. Rehearsal and Hanging around. This was the experience of this old geezer! But the excitement and indeed privilege of being there compensated for everything. Was complimenting myself on making my Concert Hall debut, until I met a fellow from another choir who was 85!!'
'It was fantastic to be part of this event and a highlight for me to - not alone sing in the NCH but to sing along with the fabulous Chamber Choir of Ireland. It will help us aspire to more within our choir now!'
'It was an experience and an honor to be part of An Island sings. To learn a brand new piece composed and lyrics from amazing Irish People. The organisation was excellent from beginning to end.'
We are indebted to our principal funder, The Arts Council / an Chomhairle Ealaíon, whose support has funded this project. Our thanks are also due to the National Concert Hall for their support and commitment to bringing this project to the performance stage. Finally, our thanks go out to Poetry Ireland who enabled the incorporation of a poet in the commission