Chairperson’s Report to Music for Galway

AGM 2021

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.

2020 started with high expectations and with one exceptional success, the Midwinter Festival BEETHOVEN, this year presented as part of the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture programme. This was the first of a number of events that were to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven.

Preparations for the first edition of the new cello festival CELLISSIMO continued at fever pitch for February and March until the first lock down brought activities to a standstill. The cello festival had to be postponed to 2021. The following period was spent re-evaluating, rescheduling, reimagining.

In the summer, MfG explored the possibility of presenting a series of drive-in concerts in the grounds of the Galway Racecourse. These were to be staged outdoors and broadcast live through RTE lyric fm. Audiences were to attend in their cars and listen through their radios. The various elements had been worked out and all permissions had been obtained but unfortunately, the concerts could not go ahead. RTE Production felt it could not warrant the health risk to its technicians.

In August MfG presented a re-imagined programme to Galway 2020.

It fitted within the deadline imposed by Galway 2020, i.e. the end of March 2021. This meant that the whole programme had to be delivered on-line. This meant an increase in production costs and made some elements impossible to present: the measures taken by the government did not allow for any involvement by non-professionals and that meant that Spark of the Gods – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony that was scheduled for December with a large choir put together by assembled choirs of the region - was no longer feasible and in order to finance the rest of the programme it was decided to cancel this element. The community opera Paper Boat, could also not go ahead and was postponed until 2022.

An overview of the changes:
Midwinter Festival BEETHOVEN: Delivered
5 Abendmusik Concerts: 2 Delivered / 3 Postponed to 2021
CELLISSIMO: Postponed to 2021
Paper Boat: Postponed to 2022
Spark of the Gods: Cancelled

Facing the fact that any production would now be delivered online, MfG embarked on a learning curve and expanded from producing live music concerts into a production company PPV and streaming experts, sound engineers, lighting engineers, camera operators, visual mixers and directors.

Working during the pandemic brought not only technical but also health and safety and administrational challenges. Great care was taken to ensure that the production environment would remain a safe place.  The MfG office was vacated and staff worked from home throughout the year.

In October after a long break, the first event presented by Music for Galway (with support from NUI Galway) was the Emily Anderson Concert. The Hardiman Hotel opened its doors and this was the first live-streamed online event that MfG produced. It attracted great media attention and it was covered on national radio and on RTE Six One News.

October also saw the resumption of the Galway 2020 programme with the first Abendmusik concert which was streamed live from St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. The second followed in November from the same venue and was presented in the same way. The viewing figures for all three live-streams were higher than expected and concerts were watched in 22 countries spanning the whole globe.

MfG joined the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) for five months. Fundraising continued through encouraging online donations and through maintaining of the patron schemes.

Special thanks goes to the artistic and executive staff of MfG for its resilience, adaptability and strength and for the way it overcame untold numbers of challenges in this remarkable year.

Anne O’Maille, chair

AGM 3 June 2021