One of the most endearing of all musicals is the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s much loved “Sound of Music”. Many of us can vividly recall the opening shot of the film with its panoramic view of the Austrian hillside and the young Julie Andrews, postulant, singing ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music.’ All that, came back to me when I heard of the recent successes of some school choirs in national competitions.
Here, in the Northern Province, where we move in and out of two jurisdictions, where we have double the trustee reports to write, double accounting systems to keep, and more besides, we had double reasons to celebrate music achievements of schools both North and South. Beyond borders, beyond Brexit, beyond boundaries, the universal experience of the creative and expressive engagement in choral singing conjured up a magical memory of the tradition of music making in our Mercy schools where we had inculcated a love of singing. School Choirs from Our Lady’s Secondary School in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan and Thornhill College, Derry, both achieved national prestigious awards for choral excellence.
Show Choir National Champions
Our Lady’s in Castleblaney is one of our CEIST schools. The school choir, comprising of 80 members, under the musical direction of Ms Tara Murray, has won National Champions in Show Choir Ireland. This is a marvellous achievement and brings honour to the school, the town and county. Year on year the Choir goes from strength to strength and this recent winning and national accolade for Our Lady’s Choir, Castleblaney is acknowledged and celebrated here.
Meanwhile, north of the border, Thornhill College Choir, Derry, directed by Mrs Elizabeth Quigley, has been making its mark too. Apart from success at Feis Ceoil, Dublin, Thornhill’s Choir emerged from a field of 62 choirs to scoop the prize of BBC Northern Ireland School Choir of the Year 2019. Their renditions of ‘The Seal Lullaby’ and ‘De Angelis’ set them in a league of their own and the judge’s comments bore testimony to the standard of technical choral skills and their musicality.
For now, it is our joy to pause and reflect on the tremendous achievements of these young people, to congratulate their respective Principals – Mr Eddie Kelly and Mrs Sharon Mallett and to rejoice that schools the Mercy Sisters helped establish, continue to inculcate and transmit the great tradition of music making. Well done to all concerned! The Northern Province is indeed ‘alive with the sound of music.’
Perpetua McNulty rsm