When Peter Galllagher, princeps emeritus, first envisioned an annual school concert, he dreamed big, but started small: his first signed act was a whiskey jug and washboard band from the hillbilly hills above Stepaside. He then gradually built up his stable of stars and supporting acts, handing over an established annual network staple to Ms. Fay and Mr. MacMullen. Cable deals and pay-per-view soon followed under those maestros, and when show business called those two away, Mr. Sheridan and Ms. deBhal kept the business growing under their short but sparkling tenure. Now, Ms. Fay and Ms. deBhal sweetly but sternly wield the conductors’ batons together and having just witnessed the latest dazzling edition of this extravaganza, we can now proudly say that the St. Conleth’s Spring School Concert is bigger and better than ever!
It all began with Jacq Herbots beguiling us with his flute, playing ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’, and then the strings took over for a while: Hugh Ormond on the piano with ‘Faver’ and a new fan favourite Stephen Rockett playing ‘Plaisir d’Amour’ on violin. We then found out what Finn Mulcahy has been doing instead of his English homework- practising guitar- as he Finn honoured Leonardo’s Oscar win with ‘My Heart Will Go On’. Hannah Collins, a dependable stand-out these last few years, claimed she ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love” and we can’t either, with that voice! Mark Connor tickled ‘Lullaby for a Doll’ on the ivories and we then were ready for a shift to the ‘down with the kids’ stuff, and no better man than our resident rocker Jamie Kirkpatrick on guitar accompanying James Hastings-Rafferty singing ‘Half a World Away’. Matthew Rockett returned us to the classical world with a Rachmaninov piece on piano and Joe Gallagher proved he was class on the classical guitar as well as the soundboard. It was certainly a day for the piano, as old pros Noah Brabazon, Brendan Connor, Kevin Dolan, Maryrose Counihan and Daniel Gilligan all tok their turns, covering a an entertaining variety of genres and periods. Kyung played ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ on his clarinet with his usual good grace and late but spectacular bloomer Clara Murphy was accompanied by Sean Bortolozzo on guitar and Daniel on piano in a stand-out performance of ‘Home’. It was certainly a calmer concert than some that we have had, but a Third Year Supergroup made sure that the nuns next store at least cast a disapproving nod in our direction: Stephen Allen sang ‘Viva la Vida’ with Joe, Brian Keenan, Eoghan Fitzmaurice and Kyung backing him on guitar and percussion. The Sixth Years were not to be upstaged at their swan song, and accordingly responded as “Accordance” – Maryrose, Noah, Elliot Browne and Ben ‘Dig It’ Doggett – playing ‘Pyro’ by Kings of Leon. We knew what was coming when our diminutive diva, Eavan Ni Riada, took the stage, but were still blown away by her rendition of ‘God Only Knows’. Then longtime (and highly valued) accompanist, Elliot Brown, took centre-stage for himself, playing the percussion sections of ‘Uptown Funk’. And since we were closing Seachtain Gaeilge as well as the term, Fifth Years grabbed their traditional ukuleles an sang ‘Some Nights’ as Gaeilge. Of course, Sammy Butler had to close the proceedings, and you will see below that he has lost none of his charm or enthusiasm!