Youth Orchestra Day of Celebration | Feature Film & Letter from President Higgins

As you may know, on Sunday, 9 May 2021, IAYO held this online, Youth Orchestra Day of Celebration, where we celebrated the incredible work of youth orchestras and ensembles that has continued over the past year. This work kept the music going and kept young musicians engaged throughout the pandemic, despite not always being able to be together to learn and perform in person.

In lieu of our annual Festival of Youth Orchestras, we still wanted to do something that highlighted and celebrated youth orchestras and ensembles and with that, the idea for the Youth Orchestra Day of Celebration was born!

We constantly kept in touch with our members and were so proud of how innovative and creative they were from the very beginning. While it seemed like an insurmountable task, many of them, at just a moments notice, totally changed how they worked and came up with incredible ideas that ensured that young musicians continued playing music.

As IAYO Director, Allin Gray has said:

“It’s truly inspiring to see how so many young people and the grown-ups who facilitate their music-making have invented so much this year to keep the music going.”

We were delighted to receive the support of President Michael D. Higgins in a letter about the event and the work of IAYO and our members. In this letter, President Higgins wrote:

“Many talented young musicians in Ireland continue to benefit from the generous support of the Association. By facilitating and encouraging a sense of togetherness and collaboration between youth orchestras across the country, you have enabled the flourishing of a truly dynamic musical community in this country. The benefit to young Irish musicians, enabled to develop and explore their musical talent in a spirit of mutual support and communal spirit has been immense.”

You can read all about the Carnival of Orchestras here but let us tell you about the opening event of the day that kicked off our celebrations!

Youth Orchestra Day of Celebration | Feature Film

At 3pm on Sunday 9 May, to launch the celebrations, IAYO streamed a newly created film of youth orchestras and young musicians alike, performing at home and in-person (but socially-distanced), throughout Ireland over the past twelve months.

Compered by Seán Rocks, the hour-long film featured interviews with ensemble members and directors and performance highlights from during lockdown from a huge number of IAYO members from across the country. Throughout lockdown, music teachers and ensemble leaders were resilient and inventive, forever thinking up new ways to keep their young musicians engaged.

We also saw the Online Chamber Ensemble, a new IAYO ensemble supported by the Irish Chamber Orchestra, who are playing together, without latency, using real-time audio rehearsal software. No pre-recording or stitching together for these musicians!

The finale of this film was the premiere of the specially commissioned Hope Springs Eternal composed by Vincent Kennedy featuring more than 250 musicians from across the country who recorded themselves at home for inclusion in this project.