This week, five second level students from schools in Monaghan, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime musical journey as part of a new mentorship initiative presented by Music Generation Cavan/Monaghan. The mentorship is delivered in partnership with the creators of ‘Elsewhere’, a major new opera written by Monaghan native Michael Gallen and rooted in the true story of the Monaghan Asylum Soviet 1919. The opera, which is currently in development, is expected to premiere across Ireland and France in 2021 but will have a ‘first look’ presentation on Friday 29 November at 8pm in St Maeldhoid’s Church, Castleblaney.
This mentorship initiative arose from a shared desire by Music Generation Cavan/Monaghan and the ‘Elsewhere’ team to make high quality, affordable music education opportunities available to young people living and studying in in the county.
The five students taking part were each nominated by their school music teacher. They were also expected to submit a formal expression of interest for the mentorship, explaining why they wanted to be involved and what they hoped to achieve. While each of the ‘mentees’ already play music to a high standard, access to an opportunity such as this would be extremely rare. There is no youth orchestra in county Monaghan and few locally available opportunities for young people to play and perform together.
The partnership between Music Generation Cavan/Monaghan and ‘Elsewhere’ aims to break down those barriers, opening up a window to the world of professional music and ensemble playing for these young people.
Over two weeks they will learn from and develop their musical skills with members of the professional French ensemble Miroirs Étendus, which will perform the music for the opera. The young people will receive masterclasses, attend rehearsals and experience the development of this significant opera production first-hand. On the final day of workshops they will also be invited to attend the work-in-progress presentation, which will feature scenes from the production directed by Tom Creed, with music direction by Fiona Monbet and music performed by Miroirs Étendus.
‘Elsewhere’ is presented by Straymaker, co-produced by Irish National Opera and Opéra de Rouen with funding from the Arts Council and support from Creative Ireland, Institut Français, Monaghan Arts Office and Íontas Arts Centre, Castleblayney.
The mentorship is just one of the initiatives enabled by Music Generation Cavan/Monaghan, which also offers vocal and instrumental tuition for children and young people ages 0-18 across the region in partnership with schools, community, youth and arts groups.