IAYO Youth Orchestra Collaboration Grant Recipients | Musica Fusion Festival & Athenry Youth Orchestra

We are delighted to announce that the inaugural recipients of the IAYO Youth Orchestra Collaboration Grant are Musica Fusion School of Music and Athenry Youth Orchestra!

The IAYO Youth Orchestra Collaboration Grant was launched in March 2022. This pilot scheme is in response to members asking for more regional festivals and collective performance opportunities beyond the annual IAYO Festival at the National Concert Hall. We feel that the creation of such opportunities is more feasible if led locally and supported by IAYO rather than run centrally by us.

The Youth Orchestra Collaboration Grant Scheme is aimed at increasing opportunities for Irish youth orchestras to perform with and for each other; increasing opportunities for youth orchestras to work with each other collaboratively; allowing young musicians from different orchestras to get to know each other and to play together; creating activities and performances that are too big for just one orchestra; and growing and connecting the youth orchestra community.

While both recipients’ projects were quite different, we felt that they encompassed the above aims in many ways! Read on to learn more about each project.

Musica Fusion Festival

On Sunday, 20 November 2022, Musica Fusion will host their Orchestra Festival in their school in Charleville, County Cork and the Charleville Park Hotel. There will be two performances: 2pm for junior orchestras and 6pm for more advanced, older orchestras. The day will not just focus on the performances but the mixing and socialising of the students themselves and the adults involved with each orchestra!

All performers in each concert will have the opportunity to perform together as one large orchestra and will rehearse together on the day to prepare. There will also be plenty of time for mingling and the orchestras to meet each other.

Orchestras, chamber groups, and traditional groups of all shapes and sizes from across Ireland were invited to apply and the response was huge!

Writing about the Festival, Susie Butler, Director of Musica Fusion School of Music said:

“The overall goal of this day is to unite young musicians from all over Ireland and allow them to play, watch each other play, get to know each other and become friends in music. Watching other orchestras play and seeing their repertoire is always very beneficial as is seeing a mix of performers, instruments and groups. For the adults involved with the orchestras/groups, it will provide a platform for future collaborations and friendships.

A photographer and videographer will be there for the day. Each orchestra/group will get a recording and pictures of the performances for the day as well which will aid them in grant applications in the future.

It will also provide an opportunity for leadership for the members of our senior orchestra who are already very involved in the running and activities of our orchestra. They have their own committee and two representatives on the orchestra parents council as well as having a fun WhatsApp group!!

A huge amount of the organisation for this festival will be done by the students themselves in a supervised capacity. For example, we will have a sponsorship/prize group, a marketing group, a catering organisation group etc from within the Students committee.”

The Musica Fusion Festival will take place on Sunday, 20 November 2022 in Charleville, County Cork.

Athenry Youth Orchestra Connections Tour 2023

Athenry Youth Orchestra has big plans for an all-Ireland and British Isles cross-border, cross-community collaboration of workshops and concerts lined up for February 2023!

The project will see Athenry Youth Orchestra working with Dalriada Grammar School Orchestra in Ballymoney, County Antrim and the Dominican Convent Portstewart Orchestra, County Derry along with musicians Will Pound (England) and Jean Butterworth (Scotland) for a series of workshops, creation of the Connections Orchestra, culminating in a concert in the Great Hall, Stormont, Belfast on Saturday, 18 February 2023.

The idea of the project initially came about when Katharine Mac Mághnuis, Director of Athenry Music School was speaking to her youth orchestra members about her teenage experiences of attending both Dalriada Grammar School and Dominican Convent Portstewart, one a predominantly Protestant and latterly a Catholic secondary school. Many Athenry Youth Orchestra commented that they had never been to the North and even if they had, they had not any experience of spending meaningful time in the company of their northern counterparts.

In January 2020, discussions began with the Northern orchestras and a tour was planned for 2021 but unfortunately, as with all things 2020 and 2021, these plans were cancelled. However, in the ensuing delay, accordion and harmonica player, Will Pound and Scottish guitarist, Jenn Butterworth joined the team!

Both Will and Jenn will facilitate the highlighting and prizing of each culture represented within the Connections Orchestra.

The project will see rehearsals, workshops and performances in Athenry, Dalriada Grammar School with the finale concert being held on Saturday, 18 February in the Great Hall, Stormont. The orchestras will perform individually and also together as the Connections Orchestra where they will perform a new suite of music that they will all have had a hand in creating. This suite will represent the commonality of their music and connections: past, present and developing.

In the application, Athenry Music School Director Katharine Mac Mághnuis wrote about the youth leadership aspect of the project:

“Athenry Youth Orchestras are designed very much like youth clubs with all members having roles and responsibilities from transcription, musical arrangements, librarianships, sandwich making, food shopping, navigators, and happiness police. The members themselves will design and coordinate the welcome games for the workshops and have input into all areas, logistically and musically of the tour. There will be some preparation zoom meetings with members of the three orchestras to discuss the format of the day and how connections can be facilitated.”

We will release further information on both projects on our website www.iayo.ie in the coming months.