As 2017 draws to a close and festive spirit sets in we cast an eye back on what has been another truly extraordinary year of music-making for Music Generation communities across Ireland.
January saw Music Generation announce an open national call for applications from new Music Education Partnerships (MEPs) to participate in its second phase, and we were thrilled to be joined by young flute and oboe players from Music Generation Laois to mark the occasion at the Department of Education and Skills, Dublin. The nine new areas of Ireland that were selected to participate in ‘Phase 2’ were announced in September. Planning is already underway for these new MEPs with programming expected to commence from 2018.
In February, Music Generation Carlow played host to the third annual Music @ Mount Leinster Festival – a celebration of traditional Irish music-making involving 110 young musicians from eight different counties working together under the mentorship of 10 of the country’s leading professionals.
A major musical collaboration between Donegal Music Education Partnership and Music Generation Laois came to fruition at An Grianán, Letterkenny in March. This special ‘Orchestra Afternoon!’ included premiere performances of new works by Elaine Agnew and Vincent Kennedy for the Laois School of Music Youth Orchestra and the Donegal Youth Orchestra.
At Music Generation Mayo, young songwriters, musicians and producers came together in April to create, experiment and collaborate at the 2017 Jam Bands Easter Camp – an immersive band development programme delivered by skilled professional musicians.
That same week, Music Generation Cork City became a hive of musical activity as participants in its brass and wind programmes were joined by young musicians from Music Generation Carlow and Mayo for the inaugural ‘Brass Off!’ – a three-day festival of workshops, rehearsals and collaborative performances.
In May, Music Generation Limerick City hosted ‘Music Generation Live at the Milk Market’, a national gathering for young rock and pop musicians and their tutors, featuring an afternoon workshop and public performance opportunity for more than 110 young musicians.
Further west, 40 young strings and wind players from six counties in Ireland gathered for the annual ‘Tuned In’ masterclass and performance programme, hosted by Music Generation Sligo as part of the Sligo International Chamber Music Festival, and directed by Prof James Cavanagh (RIAM).
At Coláiste Bhríde Carnew, under the direction of Music Generation Wicklow, 180 young singers from six neighbouring schools took to the stage in June to perform a challenging choral repertoire with live band accompaniment under the baton of skilled local choral conductors as part of ‘Sing In!’
The second annual Corda Connections summer project was presented by Music Generation Louth in partnership with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and composer Elaine Agnew in July, offering young strings players ages 8 to 18 an opportunity to arrange, compose and develop their chamber music playing.
In August, Music Generation Clare hosted 110 young traditional Irish musicians from eight different counties at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2017. The groups each performed a set to great acclaim live on the Gig Rig, setting the streets of Ennis alight with music, dancing and song.
And in September, a new developmental orchestral programme designed by Music Generation Offaly/Westmeath in partnership with Maynooth University Department of Music was launched. ‘JUST PLAY’ aims to provide young instrumentalists ages 11 to 19 with a unique opportunity to train with leading professionals.
The hugely successful Suburban Sounds song-writing, composition and performance programme returned in October, presented in partnership by Alternative Entertainments and CONTACT Studio with support from Music Generation South Dublin.
150 professional and young musicians from 11 different counties arrived in Portlaoise in November for the second annual Tionól for Harps and Pipes – a spectacular weekend of workshops, sessions and performances for harpers and pipers of all ages and levels of experience, presented by Music Generation Laois.
We rounded out the year with countless celebratory concerts and end-of-term performances in schools, hubs and communities throughout December, and in Dublin we were delighted to partner with the RIAM and the Galway Flute Academy to present an unforgettable masterclass and performance opportunity for 50+ young flautists.
And this really is just a tiny snapshot of the remarkable breadth of music-making taking place every week, thanks to the ongoing collaboration and partnership of so many musicians, colleagues, parents, supporters, young musicians and friends. We look forward to much more in 2018 and meanwhile we wish all our readers a very merry and musical Christmas!