Chairperson’s Update | Message from Clare Daly

It has been a year since I last wrote a piece for Newsnotes and it is hard to know where to start… Firstly I’d like to acknowledge what a difficult time it has been for all of our members, with activities literally halted in their tracks (and also a desperately sad and dark time for everyone). However, it is clear that music has played a very important role in a locked-down world. Being able to continue with lessons and some ensemble playing has likely been of great benefit to all the young people we support.

There has undoubtedly also been an explosion of alternative online orchestral activities. Our IAYO community is by nature so creative, so have risen to the challenge, (as have Allin, Sinéad and Bertie). We heard Ulster Youth Orchestra, St Agnes’ CCMA, ConCorda and Athenry Music School Sinfonietta share their amazing projects and experiences at our Keeping Orchestras Engaged Peer-Sharing Session on Thursday, 4 February – if you weren’t there, you can listen to the session online. IAYO has also been very productive this past year and our activities have been superbly captured in our Zooming in on the Music video.

IAYO has also taken the opportunity to gather our members together to support each other, collaborate and share brilliant ideas and expertise on many occasions over the past year. We know from several surveys over the years that you, our members, value collaboration and networking opportunities greatly. After years of trying, it seems that Zoom has finally “cracked the nut” of how to do this really easily. Given this, it seems like the right time to re-evaluate what we do and how to deliver the best possible support to our members. So, a major focus for the IAYO board right now is conducting a strategic review. We are lucky to have Denise Ní Dhuibhir and Anne Gannon on our board, both with experience in strategic planning. We will be consulting with IAYO members as we work through this and using the results of last year’s survey. So, you may hear from us or do get in touch if you would like to be involved.

One of the themes discussed at the Keeping Orchestras Engaged Peer-Sharing Session was the importance of keeping young people connected to each other and giving them something to look forward to. Connecting young players with their orchestras seems even more critical as the length of our time apart stretches on. In this vein, IAYO has commissioned a new work by Vincent Kennedy called Hope Springs Eternal for our members to record (or maybe perform live too) in place of the annual Festival of Youth Orchestras. We hope very much that you will find this project useful for your orchestra, and we are certainly looking forward to hearing all the wonderful performances that will result from the project. Read more about this at

Finally, a big shout out from the IAYO board to Allin, Bertie and Sinéad for their resilience, determination, creativity and flexibility through 2020!

Clare Daly
IAYO Chairperson