At 6pm on Sunday 21 June, young musicians from across the Music Generation network joined President Michael D Higgins in a nationwide musical tribute to the country’s essential workers.
Among them was 12 year-old Jonny Wang, a Music Generation South Dublin strings player, who performed alongside three of the country’s leading professionals for President and Sabina Higgins on the steps of Áras on Uachtaráin.
Jonny also had an opportunity to represent Music Generation on stage at the National Concert Hall, where he joined musicians and singers from organisations including the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, Na Píobairí Uilleann, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the Army Band, the National Children’s Choir and Soprano Mairead Buicke in a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, conducted by Prof James Cavanagh.
Meanwhile, throughout Ireland musicians, singers and performers gathered on their front doorsteps or in their public green spaces – all while social distancing – to perform their own Ode to Joy for neighbours and friends. There were some particularly special performances in Galway County, where members of Symphonic Waves regional youth orchestra paid tribute to the staff and residents of Maryfield Nursing Home Athenry.
Elsewhere in Spiddal, Music Generation Galway County Uilleann Pipers together with their friends performed their Ode outside Áras Chois Fharraige.
The tributes at Áras an Uachtaráin and the National Concert Hall were streamed online across the nation and many more were broadcast on social media on the evening. They included a performance by Laois School of Music and Music Generation Laois young musicians and musician educators, from on the grounds of Laois Music Centre.
Music Generation was one of 80 music organisations around Ireland that came together to perform this European Music Day tribute, curated by Professor James Cavanagh and managed by the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras. As well as creating a unique moment to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of our country’s frontline workers, this special event also served as a reminder of the power and potential of music to unite, to bring joy and hope. Congratulations to all of the young musicians that took part.