Camerata Ireland, Codetta and North Belfast Schools’ Choir Harmony North take part in prestigious Irish Arts Festival in Washington DC

All Ireland chamber orchestra founded by pianist and conductor Barry Douglas, Camerata Ireland appeared at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday 21 May in Washington D.C.

Participating in the Center’s Ireland 100:Celebrating a Centenary of Irish Arts and Culture the orchestra was joined by Craigavon flautist Eimear McGeown and premièred Olagon, a work for the uilleann pipes and orchestra, composed by Belfast musician Neil Martin and played by Dublin uilleann piper Mark Redmond. The Harmony North Choir and Codetta joined the orchestra to perform Dusty Bluebells, an anthem specially written for them by Belfast poet Michel Longley with music composed by Barry Douglas.

48 young people from nine post primary schools in North Belfast travelled to Washington to join internationally acclaimed chamber choir Codetta from Derry/Londonderry under their joint choir master Donal Doherty. As well as performing the US premiere of Duty Bluebells the choirs performed She Moved Through The FairCantique de Jean Racine and Danny Boy. Camerata Ireland and Barry Douglas rounded off a very special evening with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5  “Emperor”.

Speaking ahead of the performance, Barry Douglas, who had already participated in the opening event of the Festival on Tuesday devised by actress Fiona Shaw, said:

“It is a real honour for Camerata Ireland to be asked to take part in this Festival with musical talent from both North and South. I am doubly thrilled that we were able to accommodate my suggestion of being joined by the young people of the Harmony North choir.  In an incredibly short space of time these singers, under the guidance of Dónal Doherty and with the support of their teachers and parents, have come such a long way musically. Some of them have never sung in a choir before and to be making your debut in the Eisenhower Theater in Washington is a dream come true for us all and I hope an inspiration for the other choir members back home.  I’m sure we will all go on to even greater and better things.”

“Camerata Ireland is grateful to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Bureau and Tourism Ireland for their generous financial assistance and help enabling us to attend this event.  Camerata Ireland is also grateful to our Global Sponsor, Randox for their continued support”.

Harmony North has been supported in their first year by the Integrated Education fund, Mr Tony Carson, the Belfast Trust for Integrated Education and the support of the schools, staff and parents of all the participating schools.  As part of their fundraising efforts they have produced a limited edition framed print of Dusty Bluebells, signed by Barry Douglas and Michael Longley. Contact Bronagh McLaughlin for further details, bmclaughlin257@c2kni.net or 028 9077 4202.

The full 150 strong Harmony North Choir performed at Girdwood Community Hub for family and friends in April and guests included the local MP Nigel Dodds, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Guy Spence and US Consul General Daniel Lawton.

See photos below;

Mark Redmond, Barry Douglas, Eimear McGeown and Neil Martin.

Soloists Mark Redmond and Eimear McGeown toast the wonderful sculpture of John F Kennedy.

Flautist Eimear McGeown in the Green Room at the John F Kennedy Centre.

Camerata Ireland Orchestra Manager Gavin O’Sullivan and Eimear McGeown.

The Harmony North Choir with the Irish Ambassador to the USA

Barry Douglas, Camerata Ireland, Codetta and Harmony North on stage at the John F Kennedy Centre.Harmony North Choir JFK CentreCamerata Ireland, Harmony North, Codetta JFK Centre

Group photo JFK CentreMark Redmond & Eimear McGeownEimear McGeown JFK Centre Green RoomGavin & Eimear JFK Centre