East Meets West Orchestra Receive the Special Achievement Award

East Meets West Orchestra received this award for their annual concert that combines Kilbride & Lakeside Band from West Wicklow and Headford Youth Orchestra from County Galway.

Since 2011, these two orchestras have been meeting up annually under the name of ‘East Meets West Orchestra’. This venture was the brainchild of Colm O’Hara and Matthew Berrill, each from opposite sides of our country and involved in teaching music to similar groups. Colm and Matthew met as young musicians, during their own time spent in the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and now they are passing on their love of the orchestra to their students. Their goal in establishing the orchestra was to expand the playing experience of both groups.

Between 2011 and 2013 East Meets West Orchestra has worked independently and jointly towards an annual concert which was held in eastern and western venues in alternate years. Each visit also includes a cultural trip for the visiting group to venues such as Russborough House, Pipers Stones and Ross Errilly Abbey.

The orchestra is also especially interested in composing and arranging new works by its members and leaders. At the 19th Festival of Youth Orchestras in 2014 they performed two newly composed pieces – a series of improvised events called Searching in the Storm by Colm O’Hara and The Ross Errilly Suite composed by Nicole Hannon and arranged by Matthew Berrill. This then led to them applying for the Arts Council for an award under their Young Ensemble’s Scheme and they received a grant in July 2014 that allows them to compose and perform four new works with improvisation.

The students are benefiting greatly from the musical knowledge they are acquiring, the challenge of composing, the social interaction, particularly the collaboration with a group from a different county, the discipline of preparing works for performance in a big venue and the satisfaction of their creativity.