Music: Practice makes perfect

Music: Practice makes perfect


Fr Michael Collins


All around the country, young musicians are busy practising. Some are getting ready for their Leaving Certificate and State exams. Others are getting ready for Third Level exams. But a great number are preparing for the Feis Ceoil.

Founded in 1896, the Feis Ceoil has seen several generations of musicians win important competitions.

These events enabled talented young musicians to make successful careers. The role call of past winners is impressive and includes Margaret Burke Sheridan, John McCormack, Suzanne Murphy, Bernadette Greevy, Eithne Robinson, Hugh Tinney, Philip Martin, John O’Conor, John Ronayne, Emma Murphy, Geraldine O’Grady, Anne Murray, Mary Hegarty, Cara O’Sullivan, Orla Boylan, Finghin Collins and Cora Venus Lunny.

Today, 4,000 participants take part in almost 200 competitions. There are vocal and instrumental competitions and although most of the Feis Ceoil takes place in March, there are also several concerts and other events held throughout Ireland during the course of the year.

The vocal sections of competitions are divided into solo and choral ensembles. Winners are given a cup and a monetary prize.

In many cases, Irish composers are commissioned to write pieces which are played by the competitors.

Electricity ESB has confirmed that it will sponsor at least the next two years of the Feis Ceoil. Other generous sponsors include Yamaha and Cuisine de France. The events take place principally at the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge. The competitions commence on March 20 and conclude with the festival concert in the National Concert Hall in Earlsfort Terrace on March 31. This year President Michael D. Higgins has accepted the invitation to attend. More information is available at 37 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2: 01-6767365, Fax: 01-6767429.

Concert Hall

The National Concert Hall was the venue for the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Dublin International Piano Competition. The past winners gathered for a gala, including Philippe Cassard, Romain Descharmes, Davide Franceschetti, Alexej Gorlatch, Max Levinson, Alexei Nabioulin and Pavel Nersessian.

Each played their favourite encores before playing Tea For Eight on eight Steinway pianos. The triennial event draws pianists from all over the globe to Ireland.

The next competition will be held at the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge between May 4-15 concluding with concerto performances with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at Dublin’s National Concert Hall. There are tickets to all rounds of the competition and the final. More information available on 01-2721523 Fax: 01-2721508 or

One of Puccini’s best loved operas, Madama Butterfly, will be presented by Lyric Opera at the National Concert Hall on Saturday 18, Sunday 19 and Tuesday 21 February starting at 7.30pm.

For those using public transport, it is useful to know that the opera should conclude at approximately 10.10pm.

The music of the opera contains wonderful arias and duets, such as Un bel di and Vieni la sera. Vivian Coates has assembled a fine cast, which includes Jee Hyun Lim (Korea) as Butterfly, Sharon Carty (Ireland) as Suzuki, Marius Roth Christensen (Norway) as Pinkerton, Wyn Pencarreg (Wales) and Eugene O’ Hagan (N. Ireland) as Goro. The production will be conducted by Fergus Sheil.

The lighting is by Alister Kerr.

Lyric Opera productions are always wonderful and tickets are available on 01-4170000 or