The Tullamore Gospel Choir has just concluded another successful year, Paul Keenan writes
It says something of a parish choir when it not only keeps 70 members passionately involved throughout a busy year but can also maintain a long waiting list of prospective singers.
This, however, is the impressive boast of the Tullamore Gospel Choir which, since its inception in 2003, has gone from strength to strength and garnered an island-wide reputation for its performances, both locally and nationwide on behalf of numerous charities (a checklist of those charities includes Aware, the Irish Wheelchair Association, Offaly Hospice, Offaly Women in Crisis, GOAL, the National Breast Cancer Research Institute and the Mother Theresa Centre in Bombay, India.)
In November, that reputation was added to when the choir recorded its second album, When God Made Me, a 10-track work containing seven original compositions by the choir’s musical director, Brendan Keeley.
Whatever about such things as reputation and fame, the gospel choir remains, the group’s publicist Geraldine Grennan stresses, a central part to church life in Tullamore where it all began with the belief in music engendered by former PP, Fr William Clearly, and supported now by current PP Msgr Sean Heaney.
”The choir continues to practise in Tullamore every Wednesday throughout the year unless at a benefit concert,” Geraldine explains, ”and every second and fourth Sunday remain dedicated to the Gospel Mass here at the Church of the Assumption.”
Beyond this, and aside from the good works undertaken beyond the town, it is musical outreach in Tullamore that is ”a huge element” for members. As proof of this, Geraldine points to the recent Christmas prayer service at which local folk groups, a children’s choir, a teenage choir and others joined with the gospel choir to offer a musical night of ”outstanding quality”, and all inspired by the gospel choir’s example.
What could the secret of such success be?
It is rather obvious really, Geraldine explains, referencing the three simple words making up the choir’s motto (and first, 2005, album title): Faith, Friendship and Fun.
Just as with that first album, the latest project, released on November 13, will see profits from sales go towards a chosen charitable enterprise; in this case the recipient is a school in the Philippines entirely funded by the choir. ”All books and supplies are made possible through the choir’s efforts,” Geraldine says.
Back at home, as The Irish Catholic spoke with Geraldine, the choir was facing one more special performance before a well-earned Christmas break. ”That is the Christmas Eve Youth Mass at the Church of the Assumption,” Geraldine reveals. It is an event the choir has spent two months of rehearsal on, promising something special for those who attend. ”We’re expecting a huge crowd,” Geraldine is happy to report of an an event that did subsequently meet expectation with a capacity congregation for the evening.
As always, the choir delivered nothing less than their best on that most special of occasions, truly proving the old maxim that practice makes perfect.
The Tullamore Gospel Choir continues to seek new members, especially male singers.
Further information on the choir can be gained from Geraldine Grennan, at 086-3616121 or ggrennan@eir com.net
When God Made Me is available in record shops and via the choir’s website at www.tullamoregospel choir.webs.com