From Donegal to Kiltimagh, from Rathcoole to Lismore, they came, over 1,100 voices strong. Young and old, baritone and soprano, they are now the massed choir that is A Nation’s Voice.
Arriving at the Helix I saw a line of parked buses. Each represented one of the 31 choirs from across the country who had come to this, their first rehearsal. Inside a low buzz of excitement combined with the calm of an efficiently marshalled army.
I saw group portraits of individual choirs being taken. This moment of participation and of their identity as group was being captured.
Then, as I sipped my reviving coffee, I met our presenting partners. John O’Kane, Executive Director of RTÉ Orchestras, Quartet and Choirs who conceived the project, Dermot O’Callaghan of the Association of Irish Choirs and Cathriona Grange of Music Generation. Each urged me to go inside, to listen to the choir.
Sitting in meetings, planning for this project, hearing of the progress of the commission of this new choral and orchestral work by Shaun Davey and Paul Muldoon, I always had a sense that this moment would be special.
But it was only upon hearing so many voices combine and seeing their rapt attention for their conductor David Brophy that the full potential of A Nation’s Voice began to emerge
Individual choir members were aglow at their participation. They had questions. What should they wear? When is their next rehearsal? Will they be reading from scores?
All of these questions will be answered, all in time for Easter Sunday, 27 March, when they will combine again, in Collins Barracks, as part of the official programme of commemoration.
My primary question however, was fully answered. What do they sound like? Magnificent.
[Photos by Clodagh Kilcoyne]