On Sunday 5th March in the hall in Claregalway College, the 41 members of the new Sym-Phonic Waves orchestra played their very first notes together as a brand new orchestra for the west of Ireland. The orchestra, strings only to start with, worked with conductor, Sinead Hayes, and members of the ConTempo Quartet, the Galway Music Residency’s ensemble in residence on the Capriol Suite by Peter Warlock. Sinead, a native of Galway, specialises in conducting chamber orchestra and contemporary repertoire and is in her third season as conductor of the Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble – Northern Ireland’s professional contemporary music ensemble – and is principal conductor of the Amaretti Chamber Orchestra, Manchester since 2010.
Sym-Phonic Waves is being developed as part of a four-year plan which will see this new group create links with established youth orchestras in Germany, Finland, Scotland and Spain and will result in a major performance here during Galway 2020. The orchestra is the first project from Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture; a collaboration involving the Galway Music Education Partnership led by Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) and Galway 2020 and including Athenry Music School, Coole Music & Arts, Headford Music Works, GTI School of Music, Galway Youth Orchestra, Maoin Cheoil na Gaillimhe, Music Matters, Galway County Council, Galway City Council and Ealaín na Gaeltachta. Other supporting organisations who have pledged their support are the Irish Chamber Orchestra, IAYO, Esker Festival Orchestra and the Galway Music Residency.
Ingrid Nicola of ConTempo spoke of their delight at taking part. “A youth orchestra for the Western region is a project we have been waiting for many years. We are so proud and happy that it is finally happening. What stood out for us at the first rehearsal was the excitement and pleasure of the young people who have come together to share an experience that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. And it was wonderful to see participants coming from all over the West of Ireland to take part. We are delighted to be working with SymPhonic Waves and Sinead Hayes, the orchestra’s brilliant conductor. It is very exciting to have a Galway native at the helm.”
The orchestra is rehearsing monthly in preparation for their July residential course with the outstanding German youth orchestra Schoenbuch Strings. Before then, conductor Sinead is keen to involve the region’s string teachers and the wider community in the process of building the orchestra’s level. “The idea is to continue to develop the community of string teachers in the west of Ireland so that we can bring the orchestra to the highest level.” Sinead will invite the teachers of the Sym-Phonic Waves players, and other interested teachers, to attend the orchestra’s second rehearsal on Sunday 2nd April to meet the team.
The orchestra will perform an informal concert in Claregalway College on Sunday 25th June ahead of their season finale concert with Schoenbuch Strings in the Lodge at Ashford Castle on Thursday 3rd August. In the meantime, regular updates on the orchestra’s Facebook page will give a fly on the wall view of how this exciting group of talented youngsters are making musical waves in the west of Ireland.