News from the Orchestras of St Agnes’ Community Centre for Music and the Arts

News the Orchestras of St Agnes’ Community Centre for Music and the Arts (Scoil Úna Naofa Orchestra, St Agnes’ Chamber Orchestra, St Agnes Parents String Orchestra)

We recently received this great update from everyone at St Agnes’ Community Centre for Music and the Arts, Crumlin. They have been keeping very busy these past few months!

“Five months into the world of Covid-19 and we are beginning to see how to shape our lives in music In the months ahead. It is clear, that while getting together has been impossible, feeling together, communicating together and remaining involved in music together has been fundamental to coping with challenging times.

The Up Down Zoom Around summer camp in July was a success, directed by Ciara Cavanagh and Shane Cavanagh. It worked remarkably well, with three sessions per week across three weeks. Children and parents coped with the demands of organising themselves, their equipment and their instruments. There were opportunities for games and creative writing and art work as well as music, some of which is on display on The camp was shared with children participating from schools in Crumlin, Phibsborough and Howth, Co Dublin.

It was a huge disappointment to many children who were within days, if not hours, of first night, when the production of The Wizard of Oz in March had to be cancelled. Many of those children are also in the primary school orchestra, Scoil Úna Naofa Orchestra. Zoom lessons will start from September children from 3rd to 6th class. The regular teaching from Junior Infants to 2nd class will be replaced between September and December with pre-instrumental music on a series of videos, which will be prepared and supplied to the school for teachers to show in class time. St Agnes’ Chamber Orchestra (secondary school) will also start work again under the baton of Cillian Ó Breacháin. The adult “late starter” orchestra has continued with sectional rehearsals right through the summer months. Teachers have taken an opportunity to focus on technical work. Having watched the summer camp concert on Zoom of the East London Late Starters Orchestra, we hope to give it a go, and do a similar type of concert in late October. We are delighted to have a cellist from Brussels taking part in the weekly section rehearsals. Eleven players have prepared and sent recordings to a virtual orchestra project of New York Late Starter Orchestra.

Like many organisations who use schools for rehearsal, the availability of rehearsal space in the immediate future is quite a question mark. Schools can afford to take no risks. Once we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, the search for different rehearsal spaces will gather momentum.
Planning concert events in a new format is a challenge. Our Christmas Concert will probably go ahead in a Play Along / Sing Along at home format but with some pre-recorded material which can be shared on Zoom. There is no doubt that bringing everyone together on Zoom, whatever its limitations with students muted and playing at home to a recorded track, the sense of community which arises from knowing that everyone is together in real-time, linked by Zoom, is precious, and in some situations that wins out over a more sophisticated virtual recording as the end product of a period of rehearsal.

Thank you, IAYO, for leading strongly and positively through the difficult months behind us and going forwards. It looks as if we will need to wait well into next year for the situation to return to something from the very recent past.”