Fantastic art exhibition opens in Birr

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john.ocallaghan

A fantastic art exhibition, featuring a large number of skillfully produced works of art, was officially opened in Birr Theatre on Friday evening.

The exhibition is called “Where Music Meets Art” and ties in with the upcoming Birr Festival of Music.

Emma Nee Haslam, Venue Manager at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, told the gathering that “this beautiful exhibition has been inspired by classical music and we are delighted to be hosting it here in the Theatre.” She thanked everyone for attending the official opening and encouraged them to spread the word about this excellent exhibition and the equally excellent Festival of Music. She said the exhibition has been curated by local artist Emma Barone and it will be open to the public until May 17 (Monday to Friday 1pm to 5.30pm).

Emma Barone thanked Maureen de Forge for asking her to curate the exhibition. She said there are 28 works of art in the exhibition in a wide variety of techniques including acrylic on canvas, giclee print, text on laid paper, acrylic on board, soft pastels, collage and mixed medium, oil on canvas, sculpture, photo book, PVC forex print. She said 15 artists have submitted works and the high standard shows how many talented people are living in the locality.

Emma pointed out that “Where Music Meets Art” is an exhibition to celebrate the unique interrelations between art and music. “The theme of the exhibition is of a classical nature and all the participating artists were encouraged to keep in mind the attributes of all things classical such as orchestra, opera, composers, instruments, musicians, writings, singers and song, etc.

The exhibition was officially opened by the Offaly County Arts Officer Sally O’Leary. Ms O’Leary said she was really impressed by the high standard of the art works and she urged everyone to spread the word about them. She said she was also very impressed with the Birr Festival of Music which is now in its third year and is an opportunity for locals to hear live music of the very highest quality and performed to the very highest standards. “The festival’s brochure looks fantastic and the four days will feature some very fine musicians. I also like the fact that the town’s shops will be playing classical music on their intercoms.” She congratulated the artists in the exhibition for their “imaginative and thought-provoking work.”

“One of the events which I really like during the festival is Birr Young Voices. They are performing in St Brendan’s Church of Ireland on Monday May 6 at 3pm. It will be a choral performance by 30 children aged 9 to 12 years, following their Easter holiday music project facilitated by one of Ireland’s most sought after choral directors Anne McCambridge. They will be joined by wonderful soloists from Ireland’s music academies. Over 100 children have participated in the Birr Young Voices project since it began. It’s kindly supported by the Trench Trust.

“Another thing which I like about the festival is that previous participants in the Trench Award come back to Birr and perform. This year one of them, the baritone Kevin Neville, makes a welcome return to Birr. Kevin was a finalist in the Trench Award 2017 and won the Birr Lions Club Bursary. He has since performed principal roles and toured with Irish National Opera, Northern Ireland Opera, and performs as a soloist regularly in Oratorio and Concert. He will be performing with pianist Niall Kinsella in the Chestnut Garden at 1pm on Saturday May 4.”

Maureen de Forge said the festival grew from the Trench Award. “The Trench Award is now in its sixth year and we are extraordinarily grateful to the Trench Trust for their incredible support. Julia and Patrick Trench had an abiding love of music. Both sang, played piano, organ, flute and harp and were noted for their musical evenings at their home at Sopwell Hall. Julia was one of the many generous benefactors of the establishment of Birr Theatre and Arts Centre.

“The aim of Birr Festival of Music is to expand the profile and enjoyment of classical music for all; and to support emerging professional musicians in their training and development, with bursaries, masterclasses and performance opportunities.”

She said Crash Ensemble will be performing in Birr Theatre on Friday May 3 at 8pm. Crash are a group of world class musicians who play the most adventurous, ground-breaking music of today. They will perform works by a number of Irish composers and this will be a rare opportunity for the festival audience to experience their astonishing music-making.

On Saturday May 4, at 8pm in Birr Theatre, this year’s Irish National Opera studio members will be performing in a wonderful evening of opera performed by some of Ireland’s most promising talent. All on the brink of their professional careers, this is a unique opportunity to hear future international stars in arias, duets and ensembles from well-loved and rare operas.

On Sunday May 5 at 3pm there will be a recital for the festival’s patrons and sponsors in the historic music room in Birr Castle. The concert will be given by Bruno Caproni and Julian Evans. “This is a highly anticipated return by Bruno and Julian,” said Maureen, “following their exquisite debut during our inaugural festival. A leading Verdi baritone, Bruno has graced many of the world’s major opera houses, performing with some of the greatest singers of our time, including Luciano Pavarotti, Renée Fleming and Rolando Villazon. Pianist Julian pursues a hugely successful career as a soloist in the major European concert halls and is also a prolific recording artist, frequently drawing sensational reviews.”

The Trench Award 2019 Gala Concert takes place in Birr Theatre at 7.30pm on Sunday May 5. Six selected singers/musicians (under 27 years) all pursuing professional careers in the classical field, will perform a 15 minute programme of their choice. The recipients of the Trench Award, the Birr Lions Club Bursary and the Canto al Serchio Prize will be selected by a distinguished panel of music experts. An Audience Choice Award will also be presented. The total value of the bursaries is €7,000. One of the prizes will be a musical week in Tuscany. Maureen said the six singers include two baritones, two sopranos and two pianists. People can still become patrons/sponsors of the festival. For more information contact (057) 91 22911 or birrfestivalofmusic @gmail.com.

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