Orchestral manoeuvres at Galvone N.S.

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FEW school children have written songs to be played by a professional orchestra but Galvone National School has honoured Limerick with such a concert performance.

Sing Out Galvone is a pilot initiative that was so successful that its sponsor, Irish Chamber Orchestra, wants to roll it out to other city schools and ultimately, nationwide.

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Kathleen Turner, education officer with the ICO’s Outreach programme, co-ordinated four classes at the school to originate their own words and music. Wednesday December 3 saw the full 16-piece chamber orchestra platform these new works, sung by the 63 pupils participating to the school and attendant parents and friends under ICO’s encouraging chief executive, John Kelly.

“Fourth, Fifth and Sixth class pupils, four classes in all, were involved,” explains Kathleen. “I began working with each class for a couple of hours each week in September and really, every child chose to take part”.

They were well rewarded another way – ICO musician Oonagh Keogh secured the arrival of the Heineken Cup as the trophy symbol on  the day of Sing Out Galvone’s concert. Married to Eddie Daly, youth development worker with the Munster team, Eddie snatched the might cup to pass it around the young enthusiasts for their songwriting efforts.

Kathleen Turner fostered this fledgling music culture on singing first, and progressing to songwriting, each class had one song to compose. 10 weeks later, Galvone N. S. pupils had created a Christmas song, a school hymn,  school anthem and sports song “and each class learned the others’ songs so that all pupils were able to sing all songs for the concert,” continues Kathleen.

Herself an experienced songwriter (younger sister to Juliet Turner) and choral director, she encouraged the 9 to 12 year old songwriters to use images to picture their ideas, then sifting through all of these to match with verses out which came choruses.

“Then I would ask them to tell me what melody they wanted, fast, slow, faster and come in the next day with melodies and ask them what they liked and what could work”.

Used to working with choirs and choral music, each class was able to perfect a song to its liking and the ICO’s Boris Hunka created them musical arrangements for the orchestra.

Sing Out Galvone was a big sensation in the school’s Assembly Hall and conducted by Ger Keenan, “it was lovely for the children to hear their own songs performed by the orchestra and it was a great experience for the orchestra too”.

So much so that it is the ICO’s intention to pool this Outreach initiative in music and songwriting to other schools in regeneration areas and “this pilot programme has shown how successful it could be on a national scale”.