United by “Doh” “Ray” “Me”

Given out teaching background, it’s not surprising that out three collaborative concerts with Ashton School have proved so satisfying. The Cork Choral International Festival
has given us a common focus and each year has provided an overseas choir as our
special guests. This year’s offering was our most ambitious yet. With Ashton still
hosting, the venue moved to St. Luke’s, Douglas. St. Luke’s C of I National School choir
joined Ashton School choir, Cantabile Cork (an Ashton Adult Ed. initiative), RTAI Choir
and Santana Choir of Vilnius, Lithuania. The musical uplift was in the hands of
conductors Ms. Elaine Guinane, Gabriele Rastenyte- Malisauskiene, Dr. Mary G.
O’Brien and accompanist, Antoinette Baker. Each choir performed chosen pieces from
their own repertoire. As a further challenge they were asked to blend their voices with
up to three other choirs and instruments for pieces that were enhanced by larger forces.
The logistics involved would have daunted a Field Marshal but Dr. M. G.O’Brien was
undaunted and it was her ambition and talents that made the concert the success it
A full church audience brought out the best in all the performers. The RTAI choir were
well up for the challenge and took well deserved applause.
At a guess the performers ages ranged from 8 to 80 plus, yet all were equal. The
enthusiasm of the young choristers was notable as they obviously enjoyed making
music in harmony. The musical horizons of first and second level students must have
been raised by “Sanrara” of Lithuania, their musical contribution to us all was most
welcome and uplifting. Clearly music has charms that make a level playing field for all
so that “All God’s children have a place in the choir”.
After the concert all participants enjoyed the hospitality of Ashton School at the nearby
Canon Packham Hall. There is a connection between choristers that reaches beyond
age and nationality. All had pooled their efforts and talents and created something
bigger than the sum of its many parts.
Seán Ó Callanáin