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ICO initiative shortlisted for award - Pictured above are children from Galvone National School, Southill Junior School, St. Mary’s National School and St. Enda’s Community School performing with members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra at the University Concert Hall, Limerick for the Sing Out With Strings 6th birthday. Picture: Oisin Mc Hugh/ilovelimerick ICO initiative shortlisted for award - Pictured above are children from Galvone National School, Southill Junior School, St. Mary’s National School and St. Enda’s Community School performing with members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra at the University Concert Hall, Limerick for the Sing Out With Strings 6th birthday. Picture: Oisin Mc Hugh/ilovelimerick

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ICO initiative shortlisted for award in the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards 2021

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ICO initiative shortlisted for award – Pictured above are children from Galvone National School, Southill Junior School, St. Mary’s National School and St. Enda’s Community School performing with members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra at the University Concert Hall, Limerick for the Sing Out With Strings 6th birthday. Picture: Oisin Mc Hugh/ilovelimerick

ICO initiative shortlisted for award in the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards 2021

By I Love Limerick Correspondent Ann Mc Donald

ico initiative shortlisted for award Children from Le Cheile N.S, St. Mary’s N.S, Thomond Community College and Coláiste Nano Nagle celebrating ten years of Sing out with Strings with a showcase performance at the University Concert Hall, Limerick in 2018.Picture: Sophie Goodwin/ilovelimerick

Children from Le Cheile N.S, St. Mary’s N.S, Thomond Community College and Coláiste Nano Nagle celebrating ten years of Sing out with Strings with a showcase performance at the University Concert Hall, Limerick in 2018.Picture: Sophie Goodwin/ilovelimerick

The Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO), which is based in Limerick, has been shortlisted for an Innovation for Change award in the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards 2021 for their initiative that gives children the opportunity to learn music for free.

The ICO initiative shortlisted for the award is Sing Out With Strings (SOWS), which is now in its thirteenth year and offers 300 children from Le Cheile National School, St Mary’s National School and Colaiste Nano Nagle Secondary School the chance to learn music for free every week. This is done by harnessing the power of music to develop pupils’ concentration, coordination, listening, and teamwork.

The initiative was launched with seed funding from the University of Limerick in 2008, and has been hailed as a model of social inclusion, giving children access to music education, and providing tangible, long-term benefits for participants, their families and the wider community.

The programme has seen over 1,000 children write their own songs and perform at events in prestigious venues and festivals around the county and beyond.

The scheme is a cornerstone of the Irish Concert Orchestra’s Community Outreach programme and attracts both local and national recognition.

With the support of their many generous patrons including the JP McManus Benevolent Fund, the scheme expanded to include holiday sessions, summer camps, choirs, and trips.

In 2016, thanks to the Musical Capital Scheme, SOWS was able to offer entrance to the Royal Academy of Music Cara Award exams for all 5th class children. SOWS expanded to support children playing string instruments at secondary level in 2017, and in 2018, nine students from SOWS took part in the Sistema European Youth Orchestra summer camp and performed both at London’s Royal Festival Hall and Bournmouth Symphony Hall with violinist Nicola Benedetti.

In 2020, SOWS delivered over 100 hours of free instrumental tuition. The success of the project inspired the ICO to set up the Irish Chamber Youth Orchestra, which provides aspiring musicians aged 12 to 19 with the support they need to grow.

The Innovation for Change award honours the, “achievements of an individual or team who have had a humanitarian impact on society through innovation.”

Also up for this award is ‘Teen-Turn,’ which provides hands-on technology experience to teenage girls from disadvantaged and under-represented communities to inspire them to see themselves in STEM-orientated careers and make more informed third-level course choices, and ‘The Shona Project,’ which aims to educate, empower and inspire girls to become tomorrow’s resilient, capable and confident women through school workshops, the development of a positive online community, events, and projects. 

The prestigious annual Irish Red Cross Humanitarian honour nominated finalists across six categories. The awards recognise those who have had a humanitarian impact on the lives of others through volunteering, storytelling, skill sharing or fundraising and highlight the efforts of those who have given a voice to humanitarian issues. The work of the Irish Red Cross in Ireland, which was established in 1939, helps the most vulnerable people in Irish society.

The Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards will take place on Sunday, November 28, at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, and will be hosted by Radio and TV Broadcaster, Author and Columnist Joe Duffy.

For more about the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards go HERE 

For more about Sing Out With Strings go HERE 

For more stories about Sing Out With Strings go HERE 

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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