FOUR days of musical workshops at St Enda’s Community School have culminated in an hour-long concert for parents and the entire school community.
The performance saw the professionals from the WhistleBlast Quartet perform everything from Tchaikovsy and Bizet to the theme songs from James Bond and the Simpsons before the main event - the premiere of an eight-minute piece co-composed by 50 first and second year students.
“It’s an amazing achievement considering many of the students might not have picked up an instrument before Monday,” said principal Gina O’Connor,
“And now all of them are involved in a performance, every single first and second year in our school.”
It was also a blast from the past for ‘Alone It Stands’ playwright John Breen, who returned to his school as artistic director of Team educational theatre company to work on the project with the WhistleBlast Quartet.
“Only four per cent of kids do music for the Leaving Cert and I think for a country that has such a great musical legacy, we need to improve on that. And kids in St Endas have as much right to access to musical instruments and musical education as anyone else,” said Mr Breen.
“I learned piano and violin as a kid but, shamefully, can’t play them now. Maybe one of these kids will pick up an instrument this week and it’s something that will stay with them all their life.”
It has to be said that some of the St Enda’s students are anything but beginners. Adrian Skalski, Castletroy, plays guitar riffs lightning fast and Louise Canty-Hayes, Glenbrook, and Conor Crowe, Rhebogue, have played in marching bands.
“I played in a pipe and drum band before so me and a couple of the lads doing background rhythms on chimes to set up the bigger instruments,” explained Conor.
And instruments don’t get much bigger than the double bass being played by musical first-timer Coree Skeine from Roxboro.
“It’s a tough one to handle but I enjoy the deep bass sound it makes. It’s exciting and fun and, yeah, I would definitely like to do more music,” said Coree.
The WhistleBlast Quartet is supported by the Arts Council and for the past six years has been running programmes in schools around Ireland to create what senior partner Mary Curran said was “an imaginative, exciting musical experience for children with or without musical ability”.