There will be no stopping the music this March when the first ever Fingal International Festival of Voices is staged from March 12-15 in Balbriggan! As part of preparations for the Festival, eleven schools around Balbriggan have signed up for free singing workshops as part of an outreach programme run by Fingal International Festival of Voices.
The workshops are coordinated and delivered by Dónal Kearney, the co-founder of Fingal Academy of Music and the Irish Institute of Music and Song. Among the local schools benefiting from the Outreach programme are Balbriggan Educate Together National School, Bracken Educate Together National School, Scoil Chormaic, St. Molaga’s, St Teresa’s, Balrothery National School, Scoil Moibhi - Milverton National School, Ardgillan Community College, Bremore Educate Together Secondary School and Loreto Secondary School.
Each of the eleven schools responded enthusiastically to an initial call-out in early January. Within a week of the Festival having launched the Outreach programme, most of the schools in the area had been allocated a 45-90 minutes slot for their free singing workshop.
The Festival is focused on celebrating diversity and inclusion through music. It will provide a platform for individuals and communities from home and abroad to showcase their culture. In the context of Balbriggan, this is an opportunity to begin creation of an extraordinary musical legacy.
This will not be a one-off occasion. For those who wish to be involved in the Festival, there will be follow-up community workshops, including conducting workshops, to which all- students, teachers, and members of the public are invited. These will be delivered by Donal and Michael T Dawson, the Artistic Director of the Festival, and are being held in the Flemington Community Centre on Saturday, February 15 and in the Castlelands Community Centre on Saturday February 22. Both workshops are being held from 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm.
Each of the schools is being invited to participate in the Festival directly. Some will be competing on Friday 13 March; others are starting choirs as a result of this initiative. Where interest is maintained, workshops will continue well after the Festival.
Dónal’s workshops draw on his experience as Music Coach with Ulster Youth Choirs and National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, as well as his development work as Manager of Fingal Youth Choir and Fingal Children’s Choir. He is a certified Community Music Leader with the international humanitarian organisation, Musicians Without Borders, which runs music events in conflict zones and refugee camps. In 2019, he ran two parallel intergenerational singing programmes in Direct Provision centres in Co. Monaghan and Co. Dublin. This was part of the Song-Seeking Project, a collaborative programme coordinated by Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, the Refugee Council of Ireland and Sing Ireland.
One thing for sure, the Fingal International Festival of Voices has already begun to let the Music play.