There were many highlights, too many to go into much detail here - the young cellist Cormac O'Briain (above), just fourteen years old, who performed works by Shostakovich and Bloch, the unaffected and perfectly matched collaboration between Shereen Perera and Thomas Bourke, and Thomas (or TJ as he is known to most people)'s flawless interpretation of Brahms' Intermezzo op 118. The second half brought with it one of the most memorable performances of the night with Flamenco Guitarist John Walsh, who performed his own work, Rondena Bulerias, for a very enthusiastic audience, and he did so with poise, flair and unmistakable musical promise. Again, the collaboration between Julienne Paye - see below (unbelievably, this girl does not sing for a living!!) and David O'Shea (who is fast becoming one of the country's most sought after collaborative pianists) on Poor Wandring One was just fantastic to watch and hear.
After a very assured performance by the flautist Kevin Carberry, Danny Roe's marimba playing ensured the evening ended on a high- its such an unusual yet interesting instrument to hear in a concert setting like this one.
The lead up to the concert was not without its hiccups - despite the talk of a "recession", it seems that some are only too happy to continue to rip people off. Graphic Designers are no exception, but again, because the concert was for such a worthwhile cause (giving deserving musicians the opportunity to perform, and ensuring that whatever little profit there is goes to charities), I refused to put up with any such nonsense, and we found a way to get all the design stuff done while not getting ripped off! Thankfully, there were no artistic glitches, despite a few scares. Unlike last year's concert where one star mezzo decided at the eleventh hour not to turn up (though the young soprano Nicola Mulligan took her place), this year there were no such theatrics!On the other hand, last year's concert had a lot of camraderie and energy backstage, which was due to the fact that myself and David O'Shea were the only two collaborative pianists, so there weren't any little cliques of musicians, but all said and done, the concert itself this year was superb.
The fact that the turnout was so good (a sold out event, with people queuing for returns), made me realize that despite all the hassles involved in putting something like this together, and the financial risk, its obvious that there are enough people who still want to encourage and support talented musicians, minus the elitism and pretence of a classical concert. The lecture/chat element gives audience members a chance to learn a little something about what they are going to hear, while also getting to know more about the performers in question. As always, there is clearly room for improvement (timing individual pieces, for instance - a couple of works were far too long for the concert, and resulted in longer delays overall), but overall, a resounding success. None of which would have been possible without the work of such dedicated volunteers, including Ruth Finlay, Jenna Wade, Aisling Doherty and Alex Ryan.