ICO Sing Out With Strings – Le Cheile N.S pupils Peter Purcell, Abbey McNamara, Jade McCormack and Issy Anderson warm up before the performance. Photos: Keith Wiseman.
A Whale of a Tale from the ICO Sing Out With Strings initiative
The Irish Chamber Orchestra’s groundbreaking Sing Out With Strings initiative is a success story here in Limerick City. Sing Out with Strings provides pupils from Le Chéile National School, St Mary’s National School and Coláiste Nano Nagle Secondary School with free singing, song-writing, violin, viola, cello and double bass tuition, harnessing the power of music to develop pupils’ key skills, including concentration, co-ordination, listening and teamwork.
Running for eleven years, Sing Out has provided thousands of children with access to music education, providing tangible, long-term benefits for participants, their families and the wider community. As well as the Sing Out with Strings Orchestra, the ICO has now developed a new Youth Orchestra, catering for 12-18 year olds, who already performed at London’s Royal Festival Hall and Bournemouth Symphony Hall with violinist Nicola Benedetti. The newly established ICOYO has emerged from direct funding from the Creative Ireland Programme, part of a new National Creativity Fund. It is a source of particular pride that so many of the orchestra’s members began their musical journey through Sing Out with Strings.
300 pupils from Le Cheile N.S and St. Mary’s N.S came together for this big adventure through music and song! A tiny snail hitches a lift on a whale but when disaster strikes, how does this tiny snail saves the day? The children have spent the year composing their own original songs bringing Julia Donaldson’s beautiful story to life. Rock Musician Dave Keary adds a bit of punch to the whole affair as he joins members of the ICO for this colourful showcase.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra is determined to play a key role in the regeneration of Limerick. At the heart of this plan is Sing Out with Strings (SOWS), a groundbreaking initiative that offers 300 schoolchildren the chance to learn music for free.
Launched with seed funding from the University of Limerick in 2008, SOWS has been hailed as a model of social inclusion, giving thousands of children access to music education, and providing tangible, long-term benefits for participants, their families and the wider community. Students are regularly given the chance to perform and to take part in national and international events. In 2018, nine students from SOWS took part in the Sistema European Youth Orchestra summer camp, performing at London’s Royal Festival Hall and Bournemouth Symphony Hall with violinist Nicola Benedetti. Many former pupils have gone on to join orchestral groups, win medals in competitions, achieve high marks in RIAM exams, or study music at Junior Cert.
With the support of our many generous patrons including the JP McManus Benevolent fund, the scheme has 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 Irish Academy of Music Cara Award exams for all 5th class children. In 2017, SOWS expanded to support children playing string instruments at secondary level.
The success of the project has inspired us to set up the Irish Chamber Orchestra Youth Orchestra (ICOYO) which provides aspiring musicians aged 12 to 18 with the support they need to grow. The newly established ICOYO has emerged from direct funding from the Creative Ireland Programme, part of a new National Creativity Fund. It is a source of particular satisfaction and pride that so many of the orchestra’s members began their musical journey through Sing Out with Strings.
For the future, Sing Out with Strings aims to continue to expand, strengthening communities within Limerick and inspiring a new generation of children to discover the transformative power of music.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra is resident at the University of Limerick. It is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
SING OUT WITH STRINGS presented another terrific showcase, THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE on Tuesday 21 May @ 11am at University Concert Hall, Limerick.
For more stories about Sing Out With Strings, click here.