Laois Folk Orchestra is born

A new county wide Folk Orchestra is in the makings for Laois, with an invitation to advanced traditional and classical musicians and singers to unite and promote the county.

A new county wide Folk Orchestra is in the makings for Laois, with an invitation to advanced traditional and classical musicians and singers to unite and promote the county.

St Brigid’s day this Sunday Feb 1 is the date for the first audition of Laois based musicians at the Dunamaise Theatre, Portlaoise to form the Orchestra, with all interested musicians, with a passion for playing in an ensemble, invited to audition.

There will be both a Junior and Senior orchestra, all auditioned on Sunday..

Interest is already flooding in says PJ Phelan from Portlaoise branch of Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Eireann.

“We have about thirty senior musicians already, from about five different comhaltas branches in Laois. This will be the biggest orchestra in the county. The idea is to achieve a high level of performance for civic occasions and events representing Laois,” he said.

There is already a body of work waiting to be heard.

“It will tie in with a collection of material from Laois, 45 in all, that were published in book form by Abbeyleix Heritage Company Ltd last year, that’s what started to grow this idea,” PJ said.

Jodie Conway, Chairman of Laois CCE welcomed the initiative at a recent County Board CCÉ meeting.

“Projects such as ‘Careers in Music’, ‘Music in d’House’ and Summer Workshops held at Abbeyleix Heritage House with the support of Laois Partnership Company have helped to make this development possible,” he said.

Musical directer will be Áine McGeeney, with the support of Colm Phelan and Yvonne Bolton, bolstered by others when necessary.

“It was strongly felt that this team would provide the basis for a full range of melody, percussion and vocal arrangement making the orchestra a very attractive opportunity for those who wish to stretch their musical ability,” said PJ.

The audition will be the first critical step in the process.

“The venture will appeal to those of a high playing standard, committed to attending rehearsals consistently and capable of learning new pieces during the intervening period,” he said.

Age will also be a factor with a lower age limit in the mid teens for the Senior Orchestra.

“Account will be taken of family arrangements and the possibility of including a slightly younger brother or sister of outstanding ability will be considered on a case-by-case basis, he added.

A Junior Orchestra will be formed for a younger age group with auditions on the same day.

Those wishing to join should attend at the Dunamaise Theatre at 2,30 on Feb 1st. Emaillaoisflokorchestra@gmail.com for further information.