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On Monday & Tuesday, the 16th & 17th of May, our orchestras and traditional music group had the opportunity of performing the programmes they played in the U.S. in March for their families, staff and the public.    They were truly two nights of wonderful music and celebration held in the FCJ Concert Hall, where everyone’s familiarity with the surroundings really added to the enjoyment of the concerts.   While people were gathering and finding seats, our school band ‘Trademark’ did a terrific job of entertaining our visitors.   True to his word, Mr. Dale Hennessy, Music Director, only gave the audience five minutes to get in  after the official starting time of 7.30 pm. ….  He’s trying to start a new Irish tradition – arrive on time because the concert will begin on time!   First on stage were the Junior Orchestra – the biggest for some time with 41 members.   As Mr. Hennessy explained, these 1st years had worked extremely hard for their first two public performances, because the musical, trip to America and state  exam. practicals left very little time for them.   He did something unusual with them which delighted everyone, i.e.    tuning! And then they played three pieces to great applause.   The Intermediate orchestra (2nd & 3rd years) were  much more advanced of course – having had the privilege of rehearsing for and performing in America, the first Intermediates to take part in the exchange.  Their programme of six pieces included three solo saxophones, a duo singing  “Hey-Ho”, which was great fun, and they finished off with a terrific version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”.  Then we had the school’s Traditional Music Group, 14 very talented musicians on a big range of instruments who absolutely charmed their U.S. audiences and ours.   Between playing, singing and dancing they were an extraordinarily musical group and wowed the audiences.  One of the dancers gave his first public performances when Ben Holmes danced a reel …. He’s one of the Holmes triplets (+ Sam & Faith) in 1st Year and their mother was in the orchestra a ‘few’ years ago!   Well done to the Trad. mentor, Ms. Joanne Kearns, member of staff and former orchestra player.  After very short intervals (another of Mr. DH’s goals!) the Seniors took to the stage and gave very polished and exciting performances on the two nights.  Their repertoire included “The Piper” by Mark Knopfler, played by Michael O’Leary on Traditional Flute and Mr. Pat O’Gorman on Soprano Saxophone. Their final tune, “Lord of the Dance” was exceptional and brought audiences here and in the U.S. to their feet.  There was some sadness for seniors and everyone involved with the orchestra because this was the last time the 6th years would perform.   But it happens every year and we do get over it but it’s not easy.   It was great to have the chance to acknowledge their marvellous contribution over the last six years.   There was an honoured guest present on the second night though he wasn’t actually aware that he was anything other than a member of the audience.   Mr. John O’Neill, who has retired after 40 years in FCJ Bunclody, has been a great support to all aspects of the Music Department for many, many years:  no string of buses left the school without Mr. O’Neill on one of them, caring and mindful of students whether they were off to Dublin or Boston!   In fact he was on the double decker bus which brought an orchestra by sea and land to London in 1993! And we needed no tour guide there as he gave us the benefit of his wonderful knowledge of the city.   He has been M.C. for innumerable concerts and in the past seven years for the musicals.   Most people wouldn’t have known of all he did for music in the school and the Tuesday concert was a great opportunity to thank him publicly and make a presentation from the orchestras.   It was a slightly unusual tribute as Ciara Kinsella beautifully sang “The Streams of Bunclody” and Mr. Hennessy then presented Mr. O’Neill with a framed copy of the music and words of the song.  As ever he gave a beautiful thank you speech.   Mr. Hennessy thanked many people when the concerts were over, especially the principal, Ms. Frances Threadgold, for her support at all times, the deputy principal, Mr. Brendan Daly, for his work in organising the concerts and the trip to America and of course for finding seats for everyone!   The members of staff who worked over the two nights, welcoming the audience, parking the cars and minding them during the evening and, of course, those who took care of the orchestra members in the d’Houët Building before and after their performances.   He especially thanked Mr. Pat O’Gorman, one of our Music teachers, who did the lights and sound for the concerts.   Pat’s assistance is invaluable to all who work and learn in the Music Department.   Indeed, Mr. Hennessy said he was the “go to person” for every student who had any kind of problem and was always ready to give of his time and talent for any school function.   The senior orchestra made presentations to Mr. Hennessy and Mr. O’Gorman.   Both concerts were delightful and very enjoyable – a true indication that music is flourishing and will continue to thrive in F.C.J. Bunclody..




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FCJ Secondary School,
Co. Wexford
Tel: (+353)53-9377308
App: FCJ Bunclody