Brian's 'Children of Lir' set to be a family affair
Anticipation is building among the 60-strong choir from Fermoy's Loreto Secondary School who are busy rehearsing for their upcoming starring role at the Cork Opera House.
The girls will join 20 singers from the Cork Prison Officers Male Choir on the stage of the historic venue for two eagerly anticipated performances of Fermoy man Brian O'Reilly's ground-breaking folk opera 'The Children Of Lir' on May 18 and 19.
Comprised of pupils from second year through to leaving certificate, the Fermoy choir is led by music teacher Tim Fouhy, who said the choir were naturally excited at the prospect of performing on the stage of the historic Cork venue.
"They are used to singing in competitions but not so used to singing with a professional band or male voice choir and in the folk musical style, so this is a wonderful new experience for them," said Mr Fouhy.
"It is my belief that students and young singers very much need these kinds of opportunities.
"Hopefully, it will sow the seeds for them to have a broader appreciation of music. It will be a really excellent experience for the girls and something that they will always remember," he added.
The voluntary director with the Prison Officer's Choir Jackie O'Connell said that learning the intricate pieces ahead of the performances had presented choir members with a challenge.
"Learning the pieces hasn't been easy but it has been incredibly worth it. We have been practising with the backing music from this beautiful score and can tell that this is going to be a powerful performance," said Ms O'Connell.
"This will be the first time that our choir has performed at the Cork Opera House and we are very excited for the occasion," she added.
While Brian O'Reilly has performed The Children of Lir on many occasions with his brother Paud and the band Loudest Whisper, the Opera House shows will also be a first for the O'Reilly's.
This is because three generations of the family - Brian, his son Oran and his granddaughter Orna - will be performing together on the live stage for the first time.
Oran, an accomplished musician and music teacher himself will perform on guitar while 16-year-old Orna, a fifth-year pupil at Loreto, is a member of the school's choir.
Orna said being given the chance of performing 'The Children of Lir' at the Opera House was "a dream come true" for her.
"But, to be performing alongside my father and grandfather will be a truly momentous occasion for me. I know that it is an experience that I will always remember and treasure," she said.
"My grandfather comes along to our choir rehearsals and he's a tough taskmaster. He aims at every occasion to have each show just perfect, so I know it's going to be just a magical event," she added.
Brian said he was thrilled at the prospect of having his son and granddaughter join him and Loudest Whisper on the stage. "It will be a very proud moment for me," he said.
In addition to the backing choirs, the performances will also incorporate a string quartet, four ballerinas under the direction of music conductor Fergal O'Connor and famed folk singer Donovan as the narrator.
Tickets for the shows from The Cork Opera House box office on 021 427 0022.