Students prepare to wow crowds at UL

Thursday, March 19th will see the second Seinn concert take place in the University Concert Hall, Limerick - this magical concert will feature five hundred students from twenty-four schools in Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Offaly performing 22 songs.

Thursday, March 19th will see the second Seinn concert take place in the University Concert Hall, Limerick - this magical concert will feature five hundred students from twenty-four schools in Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Offaly performing 22 songs.

Seinn is a joint initiative of the Dioceses of Limerick and Killaloe begun in 2013 to promote liturgical music in second level schools around the two dioceses. The students will come together to form a 500-strong choir to perform at the University Concert Hall when they deliver their Seinn 2015 performance on Thursday week.  Tickets for this special event are available from the University Concert Hall or on its website at www.uch.ie.

The uniqueness of the event is not alone in the size of the choir but that its members comes together for the first time ever that morning after rehearsing remotely over recent months. Lead vocalists and instrumentalists have, however, rehearsed together a number of times in the run-up to the performance. The concert will feature contemporary as well as a number of classic hymns by both Irish and international composers.

The concert is the core element of the Seinn programme, which is a new music initiative between the dioceses aimed at promoting liturgical music in second level schools and, by extension, teaching and promoting liturgical music in parishes. The music director of the programme is Ian Callanan, of Ireland’s leading composers of liturgical music.

Ian Callanan has been music director the Emmanuel Programme in the Archdiocese of Dublin for the last ten years, a similar liturgical music programme for second-level students which now involves over 2,000 students each year.

Thursday’s concert comes at the end of a day-long event for the students involving an early morning assembly followed by workshops and rehearsals and culminating in this major performance of 22 songs before a packed Concert Hall. 

The programme is coordinated by a committee drawn from the two dioceses. One of the organisers is Sr Marie McNamara, Diocesan Adviser to schools in Killaloe Diocese.

Speaking of the preparations involved for event, Sr Marie said: “It’s certainly a lot easier doing it the second time around, but it is still a major feat to pull this together.”

Preparations began back in September by providing teachers with specially printed music books with all 22 songs and CDs with recordings of the pieces for all students participating and a backing track CD to help them teach the music in their schools. The students learn the music in their own schools over five months before they meet the other 500 students in the massed choirs.

Speaking about the success and appeal of the programme music director Ian Callanan said: “We’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the response this year with more than half the secondary schools in the dioceses participating in the programme. The choir members do not have to be music students and the programme is designed so that the music can be taught by a teacher without any formal music training. Seinn is about learning liturgical music in a fun way. It is a participatory programme where everyone is welcome to be part of the event”.

In preparation for the concert auditions were held for soloists and for student instrumentalists. About thirty soloists from the different schools will be taking leading roles in the concert, while about twenty instrumentalists will play in the orchestra alongside the professional band.

All those participating will meet for the first time collectively on the morning of the event, with the students then spending the morning in rehearsals and workshops on topics such as faith, prayer, social justice and liturgical music and dance.  After lunch there will be a full rehearsal in the University Concert Hall in preparation for the evening concert.

Tickets are priced at €10 and are available from the University Concert Hall, Limerick and www.uch.ie. 

Please see: www.seinn.ie.