SETU Campus: SETU Strings
IT’S end-of-year for the SETU Music Dept. and their junior orchestras are putting on their best bib and tucker for their annual May concerts. The standard of playing is astonishing given the age of the performers and the interruption to their young musical careers from the Covid pandemic.
“It’s the first time in two years,” declares acting head of school, Julie Quinlan, “and we’re just delighted to be back playing to a full house here in the old chapel. The SETU “Windbaggers”, under the baton of Stephen Mackey, features clarinets and saxophones and the clipped arrangement of Elvis Presley’s, “Can’t help falling in love with you!” from “Blue Hawaii” sees audience members humming away. “Moon River” sees great work from Cian Cabrera-Pinto on first clarinet and seems just the ticket to follow the Elvis favourite.
Budding Bows, the college’s youngest orchestra, in their fancy-new SETU Budding Bows t-shirts, is conducted by Eimear Heaney and a number of senior hands help out the players that range in age from six to 10. Given the age-profile of the young orchestra, the sound of the young players is remarkable and their playing delights.
‘Moya is a powerhouse of concentration as she packs an extraordinary range of expression’
Opening with the march-like “Pieces of 8”, the young band fashion a big-string sound. Wizards and spells swirl around in dark and eerie atmosphere of their Harry Potter, while the sweeping melodies of Beauty and the Beast are just perfect as they sweep around the little fiddles, violas and cellos of Budding Bows over a dreamlike piano accompaniment.
The SETU Concert Strings just floors us with their Pirates of the Caribbean from the pen of Hans Zimmer. The piece is packed with lots of staccato attack from the strings and that nautical melody that sweeps around the various sections of the band and sets us in search of Jack Sparrow and his dastardly deeds. A slow movement with great work from the cellos is just the contrast we need before climbing scales brings that buzz of excitement. Moya Glynn’s performance of the Back Allamande on viola is powerful with so much incident packed into the short time sequence of the piece. Moya is a powerhouse of concentration as she packs an extraordinary range of expression into the Allemande. The orchestra floats the popular Hans Zimmer “Pacific” around the chapel with its dreamy and romantic quality that sounds so appealing.
The SETU Concert Strings has a guest performer tonight – Julia Martinez Gavela – all the way from sunny Spain via Transition Year in Presentation Convent. She’s delayed her flight home so that she can play in tonight’s concert and her solo – the first movement from a Vivaldi concerto – is a Baroque delight. Dr. Marion Ingloldsby anchors my old college friend Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin’s “Woodbrook” for piano and strings. The melody has a falling raindrops feel that flattens out into a Gaelic theme and when the strings hit the melody, electricity is in the air. Mícheál’s falling triplets just skip and dance along and the whole composition ends in an ascending melody of delight.
Orchestra leader Natalia O’Neill’s solo performance of the Concerto in A minor from the pen of Belgian violinist Jean Baptiste Accolay in 1868 is the standout performance of the evening. It’s a virtuoso piece that demands strong vibrato, contrast in sound and bowing, slow arpeggios and variety of phrasing. And – above all – concentration and memorization. All three solo performers are a credit to the SETU Music School.
On the night, a presentation was made to lecturer Deirdre Scanlon who was retiring from the college after a lifetime of dedication to the students SETU. Deirdre’s influence was enormous and the current Budding Bows orchestra was founded by this remarkable and dedicated teacher who has contributed to the musical life of the South East over her career.
The Waterford News & Star Green Room acknowledges Deirdre’s contribution to music in Waterford that has spanned a generation and we wish her a happy retirement.