Athenry Music School MEGA Concert Series & Performance

Since April 2020, Athenry Music School has been teaching all their groups, orchestras and choirs online. They were quick to adapt to the sudden upheaval that was brought about last year and this was key in keeping their young musicians and ensembles engaged.

Under more normal circumstances, at the end of their summer term in May, Athenry Music School would host their annual gala concert for all their students which would include a finale performance featuring every instrumental student (all 400+ of them!) in a huge, public celebration of their year’s work.

A picture from Athenry Music School’s MEGA Concert in 2019. Photo by Brad Anderson.

Not letting restrictions get in the way of tradition, Athenry Music School got working and began planning for a MEGA series of 31 online concerts and performances for May 2021. Each instrumental student got to perform online, via Zoom in a friendly, welcoming and open setting and the various ensemble and orchestras wound up their final sessions with various celebrations including an ice-cream party!

This ongoing MEGA celebration culminated in a grand performance, still featuring over 300 instrumental students, of a special piece of music by Scottish composer James Ross entitled High 5!

This work is specifically designed with the limitations of online orchestra tuition in mind alongside other considerations of the need for many dovetailing, mixed ability, multi-instrumental lines to be able to include all instrumentalists (from tin whistle to double bass!) and ages 4 – 18 and covering classical and traditional genres! Quite the task!

Students have been working on this piece in their online ensemble and tuition sessions and submitted recordings of their parts. The final part of this project was to collate, edit and merge hundreds of these individual videos to produce an extravaganza worthy of Athenry Music School’s traditional MEGA Concert! This great work was carried out by Athenry Music School alumnus Diarmuid Dempsey.

The performance premiered online on Monday, 21 June 2021, which was also European Music Day, and it is great! This project is supported by the Arts Office in Galway County Council.

You can watch the performance here.