Chairperson’s Report to Music for Galway AGM 2019

Looking back over the past the past twelve months, one can only notice the remarkable increase of Music for Galway’s activities. Our organisation had to step up considerably as beside the presentation of our annual season of concerts, the preparatory works for Galway European Capital 2020 and MfG’s heavy involvement in the programme certainly added a lot of challenge to the year. 

As ever, we took the challenges in our stride, first and foremost presenting WANDERLUST, as the 2018/19 concert season was called. Over a series of sixteen concerts held in eight venues the theme of migration, of movement, whether out of exploratory spirit or under duress was brought into focus. Concerts included the Irish debut of Australian Goldner Quartet performing their fellow national’s Sculthorpe’s ‘Jaribu Dreaming’, a piece taking our minds off wandering; the return of the Quartetto di Venezia that presented a programme moulded around composers that had travelled to Venice and been inspired by it; the RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s Adventure Screen Classics programme, a most popular concert attracting new audiences; and finishing with Sharon Cary’s ‘Suitcase Arias’ – this title nearly planting the seed for the inspiration to our own season.

Further highlights were Barry Douglas’ season opening concert, clarinettist Emma Johnson’s return with MfG artistic director and concert pianist Finghin Collins’, Lucy Parham’s look at Debussy’s music and life through ‘Reverie’ with the charming narrator Alex Jennings, the energetic Irish debut of the Lendvai String Trio, and the wonderful Symphony of Life concert with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.

We were pleased to continue our ever increasing collaborations such as the SAP lunchtime series presented now as part of NUI Galway’s Arts in Action Programme. Our work with the Galway Music Residency is taking on various forms: we are grateful for partnering with them as we make use of the wonderful Galway ConTempo Quartet, we ‘lend’ our incoming international artists to work with their apprentice ensembles, and in this season we presented the apprentice ensembles in our closing lunchtime concert. Festival partners this season were the Galway Jazz Festival with the radio.string.quartet, CUIRT with violinist Min Kym interviewed by Toner Quinn talking about her book ‘Gone’ and performing solo, and the aforementioned Sharon Carty with the Galway Early Music Festival. MfG also continues to present the RTE Orchestras in partnership with them. This season we presented both the National Symphony Orchestra and the Concert Orchestra. 

Our recurring events included the Midwinter Festival Swansong, with which we ended our successful trilogy of Midwinter Festivals tracking the lives of composers through their output in various stages. The Good Friday concert ‘Last Words’, this time featuring Resurgam, Collegium and also the English Cornet and Sackbut Ensemble, attracted once again a very large audience as did the ever popular Handel Messiah in December. The Emily Anderson Memorial Concert was presented once again both at the National Concert Hall, Dublin and in NUI Galway and featured Emily Anderson prize winner Benjamin Baker and pianist Daniel Lebhardt and young promising Irish/Chinese pianist Joe O’Grady. Benjamin and Daniel also worked with the students of the new BA in Music at NUI Galway as did three of the six lunchtime performers. 

In March, Music for Galway and NUI Galway signed an MOU, thus formalising the close relationship with the university that has existed ever since the inception of MfG. The offices moved onto the NUI Galway campus last June.  MfG and NUI Galway will continue to work together through MfG performances on campus, collaborations such as with Arts in Action and through various ways of linking in with the music degree.

All the while negotiations with Galway 2020 and artists for the Galway 2020 programme were going on, programming decisions where being taken, commissions assigned, people scouted, venues researched. On April 5th, contracts with Galway 2020 were signed and so preparations continue to go on full steam. 

In March we had our great CELLISSIMO Fundraising Gala night at which we presented the Leochra Ceoil Cellissimo to the inspirational Eimear Noone. That night we also presented the finished Galway Cello for the first time. This instrument has turned out to not only be beautiful but also beautifully sounding and we are thrilled that this is the first of a great legacy. 

I would like to thank our funding agency the Arts Council, Galway City Council for its generous Arts Grant, and our Strategic Partner NUI Galway.

A big thank you goes to all of our sponsors: MJ Conroy head sponsor of the Midwinter Festival along with NUI Galway; SAP sponsors of the Lunchtime Series presented with Arts in Action; and our generous concert sponsors KPMG, Stewart Construction, Tigh Neachtain, Anonymous as well as our concert partners: The RTÉ Orchestras, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Galway Early Music Festival, Galway Jazz Festival, National Concert Hall, Cuirt, Galway Film Society, Istituto Italiano di Cultura Dublin, Embassy of Hungary Dublin. 

We are grateful for our generous accommodation and venue partners such as the Connacht Hotel, the Park House Hotel, Hotel Meyrick and the PorterShed.

We could not do it without the great support from our media sponsors: Connacht Tribune, Galway Advertiser, Galway Bay FM, RTE Supporting the Arts and RTE lyric fm. 

A special thanks goes to our long term supporters, our Diamond Patrons, all of our patrons, and the MfG Friends of which this season we had 118. With all this support we were able to present 23 concerts plus 6 lunchtime concerts with a total audience of 4418. 

I would like to thank my fellow board members and the executive, artistic director Finghin Collins and executive director Anna Lardi Fogarty for the arduous work and negotiations. A special thanks to Terri Tracy and Dan Shields for their specialist knowledge that was key throughout. We can be proud of ourselves for staying the course.

Now we take a deep breath as we are heading into a special period, in which we present a ‘Bookend’ season in Autumn 2019 and then a full year of programming for 2020 followed by another ‘Bookend’ in Spring of 2021. We look forward to having you with us on this adventure. 

Anne O’Maille,

6 June 2019