Chairperson’s Report to Music for Galway

AGM 2022

The principal activity of the company is the presentation of orchestral concerts, chamber music recitals, solo recitals, masterclasses and workshops, as well as general promotion and development of music through their practitioners and through advocating for infrastructure.

In January of 2021 the world was still and unexpectedly in the grip of the pandemic. While this continued to pose grave challenges to the public, it also tested the agility and resilience of Music for Galway.

The Midwinter Festival GOLDBERG had been programmed at a more intimate size following what was supposed to have been a huge year of output for MfG in 2020. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it was easier to turn this festival into one that was yet again presented online. Initially intended to be streamed from St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church however, the performances had to be coming from where the artists found themselves (Kilkenny, Galway, Berlin), as at this point travel had become nearly impossible. Three most memorable performances and the film recording of Glenn Gould’s iconic interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations brought solace and joy to a great online audience.

The Bookend Season continued with two more online concerts, the Winners’ Concert presenting the winners of both the Dublin and the Santander International Piano Competitions and MfG’s artistic director joining ConTempo Quartet for a wonderful concert streamed from The Hardiman Hotel.

CELLISSIMO, the flagship event for Galway 2020 was presented at the end of March. Over seven days a total of 33 events were held, of which 14 were concerts, 8 masterclasses, 5 workshops, 1 exhibition, 4 talks and 1 film. 47 artists, technicians and arts workers were engaged and the ticketed events were seen in 25 countries by 2495 viewers. Fortunately, there were no Covid-19 outbreaks throughout the entire process.

The season finished with another Galway 2020 event – the impressive performance of Arvo Pärt’s PASSIO on Good Friday directed by Mark Duley.

The summer was spent in preparation for the 40th Anniversary Season that opened at the Town Hall Theatre with the Anniversary Gala on September 30th. While only 50% capacity was allowed at this stage, the concert that featured many artists that had been performing repeatedly for MfG down through the years, was also streamed live. It also featured the debut of the CELLISSIMO Cello Ambassador, young Mullingar cellist Catherine Cotter, who won the use of this instrument until the next edition of the festival in 2024.

MfG returned to the Town Hall Theatre for an event that combined Music, Film and Architecture as two architectural documentary films by Murray Grigor were screened featuring Rory Boyle conducting Musici Ireland as they performed the bespoke scores written by Frank Spedding.

It was an emotional night as after a two-year absence MfG finally returned to the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at NUI Galway for the Emily Anderson Memorial Concert. This year it featured an elegant and subtle performance of Mozart Sonatas by UK pianist Christian Blackshaw.

Meanwhile, since the beginning of the school year, 13 schools in Galway City and County were engaging intensely with piano music by Debussy and Schumann. They listened and responded to Childern’s Corner and Scenes from Childhood with movement, art, poetry and storytelling. On November 11th one of the schools was invited to come to the Hardiman Hotel where Northern Irish pianist Cahal Masterson performed the pieces for them. The other schools where watching the performance online. They had sent in their work and while Cahal was playing the various pieces, they could see their own work broadcast. The feedback from the teachers was very positive. They mainly expressed appreciation for providing them with a meaningful way to engage with this music and to help them deliver on the listening and responding strand of the curriculum.

In association with the Irish String Quartet Foundation, the Navarra Quartet came to the beautiful St. Joseph’s Church. Their programme featured very strong and vigorous music and was well received.

The last concert nearly had to be called off as the Covid-19 numbers started to pick up again and more stringent measures returned. However, MfG decided to go ahead with it. Extra precautions were taken in St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. Each chair was spaced out so that there would be no close contact and one of the most memorable and joyous concerts featuring the Irish Chamber Orchestra under Jorg Widmann performing Mozart’s last three Symphonies finished this challenging and yet successful year.

Thank you to all the artists and technicians and arts workers as well as to the executive for their dedication, generosity of time and flexibility. Thank you to all the audience members that gave such great feedback and thanks to all the funding bodies, donors and sponsors that helped MfG to get through the year intact.

Anne O’Maille, chair

June 2022