Pauline Rodgers receives the Agnes O’Kane Award

Pauline Rodgers received the Agnes O’Kane Ward at this year’s Festival Of Youth Orchestras. Take a few minutes to read why Fionnuala Tynan and Anne Moriarty-Martin submitted their recommendation for Pauline’s 30 years of volunteering in music in Mayo.

“We are proud to nominate Pauline Rodgers for the Agnes O’Kane Award on behalf of Mayo Youth Orchestra. Pauline’s involvement in music education stems from her own children’s membership of Castlebar Concert Band thirty years ago. Deciding to take up the euphonium and attend lessons at the same time as her children, she became so impassioned by the community of music that she wanted it to be experienced by as many people as possible. Putting her passion into action, Pauline took over the organisation of music lessons by Castlebar Concert Band and was instrumental in developing the range of instruments taught and extending the catchment area for classes. In 1995 she was a founding member of Mayo Concert Orchestra, at a time when regional orchestras were
few and far between, and later helped establish Mayo Youth Orchestra. Castlebar Concert Band now attracts learner-musicians from across the county and these lessons have become the mainstay of MYO. Pauline’s commitment to inclusion and accessibility is significant. MYO is not about recruiting the best musicians in the county, it’s
about enabling interested musicians to play together. We have a number of members with special needs, whom Pauline has supported with what can only be described as love. Through liaison with parents,
teachers and the musical director, she ensures all musicians benefit musically and socially from our organisation. For those in the most remote areas, she co-ordinates times to make classes convenient for parents and co-ordinates teacher timetables to reduce parent waiting time. She has volunteered every Saturday for the past twenty-one years and works to make sure there is a consistent graduation of musicians from music lessons to the orchestras; ensuring the makeup of both orchestras remains sustainable. Added to all this, Pauline has sourced numerous grants, is in regular contact with Irish Association of Youth Orchestras and the Arts department of Mayo County Council and has enabled MYO to play twice at the Festival of Youth Orchestras in the National Concert Hall. She is the organiser of educational trips abroad and on these trips is the known to parade the corridors at night to ensure all young musicians are tucked up safely in their beds. (Though this is not always appreciated). Pauline practised the engagement of the ‘participant voice’ long before the term was coined, actively involving
young musicians in planning social activities. All of the members know her and trust her and, in turn, Pauline is intensely proud of the many members who have gone on to pursue a career in music. Pauline has the vision to imagine the bigger picture. In 2000 Pauline supported two young and enthusiastic teachers in developing
‘Classroom Cacophonies’, a music education programme for primary schools. The first of its kind in the west of Ireland, it won an IAYO National Achievement Award in 2001 and became a flagship outreach
programme leading to a surge in membership. Pauline has also worked to establish Mayo Academy of Performing Arts to provide MCO/MYO with their own premises, the space to buy and store a wider range of instruments and a community recording studio. A demonstration of her commitment to this was her recent 50th
wedding anniversary party invitation, on which she requested not presents but donations in lieu to MAPA. We are delighted that a premises has been purchased and plans are in place for its refurbishment, thanks in large part to our wonderful Pauline. Pauline had no background in music when she began all those years ago but in giving of her incredible organisational and people skills she has changed youth music education and performance in Mayo
dramatically. Pauline recently nominated George Lee, musical director of MCO, for a ‘Mayo Person of the Year Award’, demonstrating her pride in the people who work on her behalf. She would never dream of nominating herself for an award, unaware of her own pivotal efforts. We, however, hope you see Pauline for the
gem she is; truly one in a million.”