THE timing couldn't have been better. With Christmas just around the corner, choral music is everywhere, from candlelit carol services to the ubituous piped music in shops.
It was appropriate then, that Setanta Choir presented the 2013 Choral Bursary to Réalt na Mara Primary School last Friday.
The choir, which celebrates 35 years of choral singing this year, decided to award a bursary to promote choral singing to the next generation as singers as a way of celebrating this milestone in their history.
They teamed up with with Create Louth, the arts service of Louth Local Authorities, to award the bursary, valued at €2,000, which will allow the school access to the very best of choral tuition.
Starting in January 2014, Drogheda born Alan Leech will begin a series of workshops with Réalt na Mara. He will work primarily with the school choir, but will also be working with students in the classroom in tandem with staff in-service training, so that the entire school community will benefit from the bursary.
Alan is a professional tenor and voice coach. He has been a full time tenor with the National Chamber Choir of Ireland for many years, as well as facilitating on their various outreach workshops.
He is also a singing teacher and a vocal coach for the Irish Youth Choir, Irish Youth Chamber Choir and the Ulster Youth Choir. He has also acted as a vocal consultant for the Association of Irish Choirs on their annual Conductor's summer school.
'The bursary is a 'paying forward' from Setanta to the wider community. It will help to improve the quality of choral singing in this area, and by awarding the bursary we feel this will be best achieved by assisting teachers in developing their school choir,' said Una Murphy, Musical Director of Setanta.
'I developed my love of choral music during my school days where choir was an important part of the school's routine. I hope that providing the best of choral training to these young people we can show them the value of this lifelong pursuit and of course hopefully help to continue the great tradition of choral singing in Dundalk well into the future,' she said.
Cllr. Eamon O'Boyle, Chairman of Dundalk Town Council, welcomed the bursary. 'Dundalk Town Council has been to the fore in promoting and supporting all aspects of young music, be it instrumental tuition or choral tuition, across all musical forms, for many years. This Bursary, a partnership between Setanta and the Arts Service, will be put to good use here in Réalt na Mara, and I look forward to hearing the results.'