F.C.J. Secondary School has a long tradition of affording students the opportunity to pursue and develop their musical and artistic talents. Music was always considered to be an important part of school life. The courses offered in 1861 included “Vocal and Instrumental Music”. There are records of a percussion band in the 1950’s and a Glee Club in the 1970’s. Over many years the school’s Choirs were renowned.
This year is the 33rd anniversary of the orchestra’s first performance, which took place on 7th April 1984, under the baton of Mr. Gearóid Grant, whose musical vision and talent nurtured the orchestras’ growth and success in the succeeding years. Today’s members have the opportunity to travel, showcasing their musical talent on national and international stages. The school orchestras boast an impressive portfolio which includes recording an album and CD, concerts with Austin Gaffney, Carlow Choir, Artane Boys Band, The Cross Border Orchestra, the F.C.J. Laurel Hill Orchestra, Rathfarnham Concert Band, Gumley F.C.J. London Choir, and Orchestre de Lucé, France. They have enjoyed successful appearances at the National Concert Hall, The Helix and The Waterfront in Belfast.
In recent years their itinerary has included trips to America on exchange visits to Mount Saint Charles Academy in Rhode Island—the latest in February 2016, which was different to previous visits as a 17 strong traditional music group and dancers travelled, most of whom were not members of the orchestra. During their American travels they have performed in New York and Rhode Island with past orchestra member Anthony Kearns of Irish Tenors fame. The Mount Band & Chorus have visited Bunclody on five occasions and returned for their fifth visit in April 2015.
At present there are three orchestras: The Juniors (1st Years) ; the Intermediates – 2nd & 3rd Years, and the Seniors- 4th, 5th & 6th Year students.
F.C.J.’s music director, Mr. Dale Hennessy, was appointed in 2007. Born in South Africa to a Carlow family, Dale studied Music at Maynooth University and formerly taught at St. Mary’s Academy, Carlow. He has changed our recruitment method in the last four years; now there are auditions for 1st years in August each year instead of biannually. He is also working with soloist/group singers and instrumentalists.
Please click the above photo twice to see a bigger version