Orchestra to strike 'inclusive' chord at 2016 Peace Proms
They have played to audiences at Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall and have represented Ireland in China.
Next for the Cross-Border Orchestra is to kick off the State's 2016 programme with a New Year's Day Peace Proms at the National Convention Centre in Dublin.
And their sweeping melodies and captivating energy in a flawless rehearsal at Dundalk IT before Arts Minister Heather Humphreys yesterday showed that the 100-strong youth orchestra will be more than capable of being the official 'sound' of the centenary celebrations.
Putting the orchestra - which was set up as a peace initiative in 1995 - at the forefront of the commemorations was the minister's own idea.
"It's going to be a very exciting year and I want young people to be at the centre of 2016," said Ms Humphreys.
Award-winning composer Patrick Cassidy has written a special score for the orchestra, with a sean nós version of 'Mise Éire' and another piece entitled 'Proclamation'.
A piper with the orchestra, Grahame Harris (23) from Belfast, said he was excited to be taking part in the 2016 celebrations.
Violinist Óisín Drumm (23) from Dundalk said they would be "flat out" with rehearsals every day after Christmas until the big event.
John Concannon, who is spearheading the 2016 commemorations, said the programme was coming together after initial discord and the scale of interest was now "off the charts".
"The tipping point was when we went on the road originally intending to have 26 public meetings around the country," he revealed. "We ended up having a total of 86 meetings and now everybody is on board and there will be 21,000 events taking place locally under the ownership of nobody."
"The Cross Border Orchestra has quite the reputation and have sold out the Royal Albert hall, the Boston Symphony hall and the Chicago Symphony hall, so no pressure," joked Minister Humphreys as she addressed the young musicians yesterday.
She said she wanted the commemorations to be "inclusive and respectful", adding that the orchestra "epitomises inclusivity".
The Peace Proms event will be recorded for national broadcast.