Well well…the years just seem to get busier and busier…and better and better!
We kicked off 2015 in February with a joint concert in Newbridge with the Newbridge Gospel Choir in aid of a local charity. Both choirs produced great performances in their distinctly different styles (the Newbridge choir was backed by a Rock combo) and combined together at the end of the concert for a powerful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. A deeply satisfying concert albeit for a small audience!
In March we had what has now become an annual event – our fundraising Table Quiz. A capacity crowd (thank you to all our loyal supporters) had a most enjoyable night revealing impressive levels of erudition (and …um…creativity…) in their answers.
This was quickly followed in early April by our second joint concert of the year: this time with the visiting CelinKören Choir from Gothenburg, Sweden. The concert, held in the Church of Ireland, Seafield Road, Clontarf (a really lovely venue) was terrific and very well supported, but, for many choristers, the highlight of the evening was the post-concert supper and informal ‘sing-off’ in the adjoining Church Hall. The catering, provided by the Parish Committee, was first-class and both choirs revelled in the informal competition to out-do each other. Definitely a night to remember.
And now the focus shifted to preparation for the Cork and Navan Choral Festivals. Since January we had been the beneficiaries of a monthly workshop from Deirdre Cooling-Nolan, one of Ireland’s foremost contraltos, in which we learned to refine and enrich our musical sound. Allied to our own Deirdre’s thorough preparation, we felt ready to take on the world. And so, in early May, we headed off to Cork where we won First Prize in the National Open Competition for Mixed Choirs with a performance which brought a stream of tributes from the adjudicators such as…’captivatingly musical’…’great power and articulation’…’rhythm was outstanding’…’a nice flowing legato’…’a most satisfying performance with great attention to detail’…’very virtuoso: congratulations’. Our third prize from Cork on our second visit there!
A week later we sang in Navan where we were invited to compete in the Choir of the Year competition against many of the top choirs in the country including choirs composed of third-level music students. We did ourselves proud with a mark of 89% earning great praise in particular for our performance of Eric Whitacre’s ‘The Seal Lullaby’, but, alas, failed to take a prize in the face of such stiff competition. Can’t win ’em all…
We wound up for the summer break with a party in Wynn’s Hotel celebrating Dolce’s 10th Anniversary. It was interesting for recently-joined members to see how the choir had grown from 16 members in 2005 to 70-odd in 2015 and to see the year-by-year accumulation of prizes and awards starting with the Oireachtas prize in the Comórtas Oscailte in 2005, the year the choir was founded.
During the summer, a select group from Dolce sang at the wedding of founding member Marcella Ní Raghallaigh adding greatly to the joy of Marcella’s day. Here’s wishing Marcella and John every joy and happiness together. Also during the summer break Ronnie Sheehan organised a very informative and entertaining tour of Glasnevin Cemetery which was much appreciated by the sizeable group of members who turned up. Well done Ronnie.
We returned in September to find several new men had joined the choir, including Riccardo from Italy and Guillaume from France, adding further richness to our sound. We now have 27 members in our tenor and bass line compared to 14 just three years ago and the difference in our sound is quite impressive.
Our first performance following the summer break was another joint concert with a visiting choir, El Coro de Ingenieros de Bizkaia from Bilbao and held, this time, in All Hallows College Chapel in October. Once again the concert was a great success, and the ‘sing-off’ in the Cat and Cage afterwards was simply mighty.
In November and December we had three ‘community outreach’ performances – entertaining the retired nuns in Mount Sackville Convent, Chapelizod, the residents of Beneavin House Nursing Home in Glasnevin and carol-singing for Simon in Grafton Street. As always, these ‘pro bono’ performances brought great satisfaction to the members involved – we love singing anyway and it’s great to spread an extra bit of joy around and/or raise funds for a good cause.
Our Christmas concert in December was next on the agenda. A sell-out audience in the church in All Hallows College (a splendid venue with magnificent acoustics) was treated to a wonderful variety of music ranging from sweet and tender carols to yet another of Paula Curry’s wonderfully witty numbers. We also had a most dramatic reading from new member Donal Fox and the concert culminated, of course, in a magnificent ‘O Holy Night’. The highlight, however, was Karl Jenkins’ ‘Armed Man’ Choral Suite – really beautiful music encompassing the beatific ‘Benedictus’ and ‘Agnus Dei’ and the tempestuous ‘Hymn before Action’.
Our year was not over yet however – far from it.
Ten days later we were in The Helix performing in the annual Christmas spectacular ‘Christmas Crackers’, and two days before Christmas we were in the RTÉ Radio Centre performing live for the Sean O’Rourke Show which was broadcast nationwide – a performance that elicited great praise from all and sundry including a query as to whether Dolce had a CD for sale – now there’s a thought…
Oh, and between these last two events there was the annual Christmas Dinner held, for the second year running, in McHugh’s Wine and Dine in Raheny. A wonderful night – great food, great atmosphere and, after dinner, a most marvellous sing-song that went on until 2am. There were so many outstanding performances it would be most unfair to single out any, but surely one of the most memorable came from our most efficient secretary, Helene, recounting the redoubtable tale of a certain Patricia…who had a certain profession… Let’s leave it there…
All in all, a terrific year.
Here’s looking forward to 2016…