Sunday 26 February 2017

Spectacular musical show features 600 performers in a rousing finalé to a weekend of remembrance

Alan O'Keeffe & Wayne O'Connor

Singer Jack L is pictured performing RTE's 'Centenary' at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. The show itself was the culmination of the national broadcaster's programme of events marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Singer Jack L is pictured performing RTE's 'Centenary' at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. The show itself was the culmination of the national broadcaster's programme of events marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising Photo: Frank Mc Grath

A spectacular musical showcase took in 600 performers - including 21 choirs, 18 dancers, 10 actors and the entire RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Some of Ireland's best-known singers, musicians and performers came together last night for 'Centenary', a culmination of RTÉ's programme of events marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

Broadcast live from Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, the show told the story of modern Ireland.

Singer Jack L, speaking before going on stage to deliver an emotional rendition of 'The Minstrel Boy', said he was "proud and privileged" to perform.

Imelda May sang a reworking of The Muppets' classic 'Bein' Green' to reflect on what it means to be Irish. She said earlier it was very important for her "to commemorate the sacrifice those brave martyrs made for us".

May told how her own grandparents took part in the events of 1916. Commemorating with music, art and poetry was "very fitting considering that the Rising was led, not by traditional soldiers, but by poets and artists fighting with passion and pride".

"It is no accident that the emblem of our free country is a harp; a musical instrument. I think of that and those men and women every time I look at my passport ... with gratitude and pride," she said.

Other outstanding performances included Gavin James singing 'The Foggy Dew'. and Sibéal Ní Chasaide's performance of 'Mise Éire' - a new arrangement of Pádraig Pearse's poem by renowned composer Patrick Cassidy.

Soprano Celine Byrne sang 'You Raise Me Up' accompanied by 21 choirs, Colm Wilkinson performed 'One', and Seo Linn closed the event with a rousing performance of 'Music Makers'.

Cilian Fennell, executive producer, said he hoped it would show how Irish people used their imagination to bring about change to their destiny.

Managing Director for RTÉ Television Glen Killane said: "Arts and culture are at the very heart of the Irish identity so it's fitting that Centenary is the culmination of RTÉ 1916, to reflect on the Rising itself and the nation we have become."

President Michael D Higgins delivered a speech on the importance of remembering and celebrating those volunteers who wanted future generations to live in a free and independent State.

Meanwhile the 'Imagining Home' concerts kicked off at the National Concert Hall, inspired by the Proclamation and looking at different aspects of the country's cultural growth.

The first show of the series was "a long musical conversation across the Atlantic" examining our relationship with America.

The US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley, said: "When the emigrants left Ireland and came to the US they brought with them their music, their love of language and their poetry and sense of being, and luckily we have brought that into our own culture." Artist Paul Brady was performing alongside Irish singers such as Maura O'Connell, of Gangs of New York fame, and Johnny Cash's daughter Rosanne.

Earlier in the day, rebels associated with the Abbey Theatre were honoured with a plaque.

Irish Independent

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