Number 11. Thursday, 13th November, 2014

The Orpheus Choir's Concert in 
St. Fin Barre's Cathedral
- from Baroque to Modern Times -

Two wonderful artists will be joining The Orpheus Choir in their concert in St. Fin Barre's Cathedral on Saturday, 22nd. November, 2014, for what promises to be a very special programme of music – from Baroque to Modern Times - the Director of Music and Head Organist of St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Malcolm Wisener, who will play the magnificent Cathedral organ and a young rising star in Cork and environs, Andrew Thomson, who, with his sonorous baritone voice, will interlace the choral and instrumental tapestry of the programme with various vocal highlights, ranging from the delicate filigree of Bach's Mathew Passion to the dramatic intensity of Glück's 'Orfeo' and Mendelssohn's 'Elijah'.
Malcolm Wisener
photo: Internet

Malcolm Wisener
Originally from Coleraine, County Derry, on leaving school, Malcolm went to the Royal College of Music in London and became an organ scholar at Southwark Cathedral. After that, he served first as assistant organist in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin before taking on the post of Director of Music at Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Clyde Road, Dublin, where he built up a large choir of boys and men alongside the development of a girl’s choir. He took up the post of Head Organist and Director of Music at St. Fin Barre's Cathedral in 2008.
The Cathedral organ dates back to 1870 and was built by William Hill and the fact that it is still there today stands as a testament to the quality of its making. In the 1920s, it was rebuilt by an English firm, who didn’t alter it much, but, in 1966, there were some alterations made to bring it in line with the fashion of those days of playing Baroque music more authentically. Recently, the organ has been extensively renovated, restoring its 4,000 pipes and now it is a unique example of its kind and the largest organ in the whole of Ireland.
Andrew Thomson
photo: Hans van den Bos

Andrew Thomson
The Scottish baritone, Andrew Thomson, developed a love of music at a very early age and already engaged in musical activities while still at school, studying piano and singing in numerous theatre groups and Scottish Opera productions. He won several awards for both piano and singing and featured at music festivals, for example, the Moray Music Festival. After taking an Arts Degree in Music, English and History at Glasgow University, Andrew moved to Ireland in 2001 and has since studied singing with Hilary Reynolds L.R.A.M. (London), passing the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Grade 8 exam with Distinction. In April of this year, Andrew made his professional concert debut in the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth with a superb recital of songs and operatic arias in four different languages (including Russian!) to high acclaim. The Orpheus Choir also put in an unexpected appearance in an exciting Flash Mob Finale!

The Orpheus Choir
A 30-strong, mixed-voiced ensemble, The Orpheus Choir will sing a number of classical and romantic pieces, which, enhanced by the sublime acoustic of the Cathedral, are guaranteed to sound at their very best, and, to finish up the programme on a somewhat more contemporary note, it will bring a few familiar 'tunes' in slightly unfamiliar garbs, ending up 'with a bit of a swing'!

Tickets are €10,- and can be obtained from the Cathedral Shop or at the door on the night. The proceeds of the concert are designated to the upkeep of the Cathedral.

Hilary Reynolds - musical director

Number 10. Friday, 7th November, 2014

The Legend of Orpheus
Orpheus performs for Poseidon

Mount Olympus
In Greek legend, Orpheus was the son of Oeagrus by the muse Calliope, and the most illustrious poet of the pre-Homeric period. He lived in Thrace, and accompanied the Argonouts on their expedition. Orpheus was presented by Apollo with a lyre, on which he played so exquisitely, that not only every living thing, but also rivers and rocks were moved by his sweet harmony and obeyed his will. He married the nymph Eurydice, who died from a serpent's sting. Resolved to recover her, Orpheus dared to descend into Hades. The  music from his lyre gained him entrance, and so captivated Pluto that he consented to his request on condition that he should not look back at his wife until they reached the upper world. But when he was almost there, Orpheus turned to see if she was following him, whereupon Eurydice vanished before his eyes.
In his grief, he then retreated to amountain cave and scorned the amorous advances of the Thracian women, who, in revenge, tore him limb from limb in Bacchic frenzy and threw his head into the Hebrus. The muses collected his remains and buried them at the foot of Olympus, while Zeus placed his lyre among the stars.

Number 9. Tuesday, 4th November, 2014

An Appeal for Enthusiastic Singers!

by Hilary Reynolds - musical director

Just a handful of enthusiastic singers, whom I brought together back in 2005, formed the nuclear of the ad-hoc ensemble which was to become The Orpheus Choir as we know it today. Yet, less than two years later in the spring of 2007, with only about twenty singers, it managed to pull off an inaugural concert in Castletown-roche for North Cork Classical Music , due to the sheer 'spunk' of its members and my firm belief in its ability and commitment.

Since then, it has had a whole load of adventures; singing many concerts in Cork City and County as well as in Waterford, entering choral competitions, with a third and first prize win in two of them, and, above all, tackling and mastering some of the most demanding pieces in the canon of great choral music. Whether it be the tonal control, perfect intonation and musicality required for such pieces as Elgar's great choral ballade: 'My love dwelt in a Northern land' or Stanford's shimmering colour palette in 'The blue bird', or the full-blooded power and stamina asked for in the opera choruses of Verdi: 'The Chorus of Hebrew Slaves', 'The Monks' Chorus' and in Bizet's Carmen: 'Vivat le Torero' 'The Toreador Song', Orpheus took it on with equanimity.

Now, as we approach our tenth anniversary year in 2015, the choir's greatest challenge is the continued recruiting of new members to the club. Some of those pioneer singers from 2005 are still with us today, but, inevitably, a number of singers have come and gone over the years. In order to keep growing and developing and to be able to keep up the high standards of choral singing of which the choir is justly proud, it is imperative to find and welcome and nurture more of those enthusiastic singers, who love great choral music and enjoy the task of surmounting its difficulties, and who want to join this happy band of friendly people to build something really worthwhile and deeply rewarding. Then The Orpheus Choir can not only look back on its past triumphs, but also look forward to even greater successes in the future.  

Number 8. Monday, 20th October, 2014

Orpheus' Concert in St. Fin Barre's Cathedral

St. Fin Barre's Cathedral
[photo: Internet]
Our first concert of the season, which is fast approaching, is to be held in the resplendent St. Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork City on Saturday, 22nd. November, 2014 at 8 pm and promises to be an unforgettable evening with a great variety of music from the Baroque to the Contemporary.

The Head Organist and Director of Music at St. Fin Barre's, Malcolm Wisener, has agreed to do us the great honour of being a guest performer in the concert, not only accompanying the choir, but also playing a number of solo pieces on the superb Cathedral organ.
The organ, the largest of its kind in the whole of Ireland, has recently been extensively renovated and in the spring of this year I had the great delight of hearing Malcolm, with his consummate artistry, display all its wonders of tonal colour, producing soft strains of ethereal beauty and spine-tingling exhilaration from the full organ sound.
Orpheus' Concert in St. Fin Barre's in 2010
[photo: Will Knott]
Also, we are delighted to welcome back, as another guest performer to our programme, the baritone, Andrew Thomson, who featured in our resoundingly successful concert in Mitchelstown last May.

But, of course, the choir is especially looking forward to singing in the sublime acoustic of St. Fin Barre's Cathedral and consequently I, as Musical Director, have chosen a number of the romantic, a cappella pieces from the choral repertoire which will sound at their best thus enhanced. To finish up the programme on a slightly quirky upbeat, however, the choir will also bring some rather more contemporary pieces 'with a bit of a swing'!

Tickets: €10,- can be obtained from choir members or the Cathedral Shop or at the door on the night. Hurry, before they're all gone!! The proceeds from this concert will be going to the upkeep of the Cathedral.

Hilary Reynolds

Number 7. Monday, 25th August, 2014

So - So - So - Ti - Fa - Re - So

The new season 2014-2015 is 'at the door' for the Choir. 

A season that, next year, heralds in the tenth anniversary of the founding of the ensemble in 2005. Plans for the future include two performances in St. Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork City and also in a new venue, a multi-purpose, 150+ seating arts centre: the First Fruits Arts Centre in Watergrasshill.

Our Choir also seeks new members

One of the major challenges facing The Orpheus Choir in the coming season is the recruiting of new members and, consequently, we are sending out an appeal to all of you who read this newsletter to spread the word as much as possible in a united effort to help us search for people who would like to join us.
Indeed you might think seriously about joining us yourselves.  
If so, please feel free to come along to meet us and hear us sing, at one of our forthcoming Monday practices. 

For further information, please contact Hilary: mob. 087 7924105

Number 6. Tuesday, 6th May, 2014

Andrew Thomson - baritone
Catherine O'Carroll - soprano
Friday evening, 30th. May, The Orpheus Choir will be giving a concert in St. George's Church, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, on the invitation of North Cork Classical Music to initiate their 2014 Festival season. A large part of the programme will be devoted to scenes and choruses from popular operas, amongst others, Bizet's 'Carmen' and the ever-loved 'Chorus of Hebrew Slaves' by Verdi, but there will also be a wide variety of folksongs, like the haunting 'She moved through the fair' and a rousing 'Sailor and young Nancy' and many other jewels of the choral repertoire, both ancient and modern. Bringing even more lustre to the evening, the choir will be joined by two wonderful soloists: hailing from Limerick City, the fantastic young dramatic soprano, Catherine O'Carroll and, originally from Scotland now living in Ireland, the powerfully resonant baritone, Andrew Thomson, who recently made such a resoundingly successful debut in the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth. The James Fitzgerald Memorial Band from Mitchelstown, under the enthusiastic leadership of Seanie Chamberlain will also be on board to add a whole new dimension to the proceedings. Tickets are 15,- euro/ 25,- euro for two and will shortly be available from the usual outlets. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Hilary: 087-7924105/

Number 5. Monday, 7th April, 2014


At the end of Andrew Thomson's debut recital in The Village Arts Centre in Kilworth, Co. Cork last Friday, 4th. April, 2014, the unsuspecting audience were flabbergasted when the front rows of the auditorium suddenly rose up , to cries of 'Vivat Escamillo' and swarmed onto the stage! Escamillo, the Toréador in Bizet's 'Carmen', alias Andrew Thomson, then banned his way through the crowd to sing the stirring 'Toréador Song', joined by the mob, or rather, as you may have already guessed, by members of The Orpheus Choir!This was the rousing finale of an evening full of great musical highlights of virtuoso variety on the part of Andrew. Singing the entire performance from memory in five different languages (including Russian!) and in many different styles from oratorio and art-song to grand opera from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, Andrew's warm, sonorous baritone voice filled the theatre, despite him having been laid low with a heavy cold the day before.
This was Andrew's professional debut as a classical singer and he certainly showed a truly professional attitude in the brave and masterly control he kept over his voice under the duress of ill health. Furthermore, what shone throughout his whole performance was a strong emotional commitment to the music and his intensely passionate renderings of the Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky songs before the interval were particularly moving.
The programme was interspersed with introductions, excellently delivered by Andrew's vocal coach, Hilary Reynolds, who is also the Musical Director of The Orpheus Choir.
The only unfortunate note in this otherwise very special evening was that Andrew's commitment was not matched by his accompanist, Michael Young, who displayed an air of remote indifference throughout the evening and played an undercooled, uncommitted, passionless performance despite all Andrew's persuasive musicianship. If Michael is looking to get more work as an accompanist in the future, he will have to work a lot harder at supporting his singers and also at ingratiating himself with an audience. Who knows, maybe Mr. Young needs to get a little 'older'?

John Roach

About John Roach: He studied musicology at the University of Kent and writes notes on music history and music criticisms for several leading music magazines in the UK. He was invited on this special occasion by Hans van den Bos to write a review of Andrew's concert for The Orpheus Choir News. 

The photographs for this edition were taken by Hans van den Bos.

Number 4. Wednesday, 19th March, 2014

Andy's Concert

Andrew Thomson, who works for the choir as an accompanist, will be making his professional debut as a singer in The Village Arts Centre in Kilworth on Friday, 4th. April, 2014.

Andrew came to live in Ireland in March 2000 from his native Scotland and began his
Andrew Thomson (photo Hans van den Bos)
singing training with Hilary Reynolds L.R.A.M. (London) in 2003. After having appeared in a number of shows and concerts in the Cork area, 2013 became a pivotal year for Andy, when, after passing his Grade VIII Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Exam with Distinction, he decided to 'follow his dream' by pursuing a career as a professional classical singer and singing/piano teacher.

His recital in The Village Arts Centre in Kilworth will be a truly virtuoso performance, containing as it does a wide variety of songs and opera arias in many different languages (including Russian!), which span a vast mixture of musical styles dating from the 18th. through to the 20th. centuries.
He will be accompanied on the piano by Michael Young, who is presently studying for a Masters Degree in Piano Accompaniment at the Cork School of Music, who has the difficult task of being both pianist and surrogate orchestra (for the opera pieces) all rolled into one! His great consolation is that he will be playing a beautiful grand piano supplied by Jeffers of Bandon, the best piano people in the whole of Ireland!
The Village Arts Centre, Kilworth (photo Internet)
The concert starts at 8.15 pm, but is preceded by a wine reception at 7.30 pm to enhance the festive occasion. Tickets are 15,- euro and are available from The Village Arts Centre's usual outlets or at the door on the night, but you will have to hurry, as this very special concert looks like it is going to be sold out very quickly!

What does all of this have to do with The Orpheus Choir, you might ask? You will have to come to the concert to find out, but we can assure you that there will a totally unexpected twist in the tail of Andy's concert the like of which has never been seen at the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth before!  

Number 3. Tuesday, 21st. January 2014

The Choir holds an Open Evening 

On Monday, 27th January at 8pm in The Palace Theatre, Ashe Quay, Fermoy.

Everybody is welcome, FREE OF CHARGE, to come along to listen to the Choir practise. They are rehearsing a programme of songs, which they will be performing in a concert held in Knockanore's Community Hall on 1st February. This programme contains five of the Choir's most popular pieces.

If you like what you hear and think that you would care to join the Choir, please speak to Hilary, so that she can make a private appointment  with you. At this moment, the Choir is particularly interested in acquiring more sopranos, altos and tenors.

In the interval, refreshments will be served and there will be time to chat with Hilary and the Choir Members.

Number 2. Friday, 14th. January 2014

Guest Concert of The Orpheus Choir
in the
KGK Community Hall, Knockanore
Saturday, 1st. February, 2014 at 8.30 pm

The concert is in aid of maintenance work to the Hall and several other choirs, i.e. a choir from Youghal, the Castlelyons Gospel Choir, the Lismore Singers and possibly some solo performers will also be participating.The concert will be starting at 8.30 pm, after the Saturday evening Mass.

Knockanore is a rural village in County Waterford, situated approximately 9 miles (15 km) from neighbouring towns Youghal (County Cork) and Tallow (also in County Waterford).
Ulex europaeus (photo Internet)
The name itself is derived from the Irish Cnoc an Fhómhair, or Cnoc an Óir, which translates as "The Hill of Autumn'' or ''The Hill of Gold", an ode to the many yellow furze bushes which once were plentiful in the area. Today, the village and the surrounding parish serves agricultural purposes primarily and a significant percentage of local families have some connection with agriculture in Knockanore. It is a very ancient parish, being formerly known as the parishes of Kilcockan, Kilwatermoy and Templemichael. Knockanore is also situated on a designated scenic routeway.
The village itself is officially located within one linear mile, reaching from the townland of Kilcockan to the south to just above the hub of the village itself, on the northern side. Local facilities include a public house 'The Shamrock Inn,' a post office, a Catholic church and a national school. Currently a community hall exists beside the school and was officially opened on 15 May 2009. It caters for various community functions and events, as well as private school assemblies and games.

National School and KGK Community Hall, Knockanore
(photo: Hans van den Bos)
Knockanore is one of the 'United Parishes,' which collectively span a much wider area than the village itself. 
The other parishes are Glendine, which reach southwards almost to Youghal. To the northern side lies Kilwatermoy, which reaches almost to Tallow.

According to the 2006 census of population, there are altogether 890 persons living in the total area that the united parishes cover. 
Areas such as Kilcockan (incorporating the village of Knockanore also) and Kilwatermoy West have decreased in population very slightly since 2002, while areas like Templemichael/Glendine and Kilwatermoy East have seen a slight population increase since 2002. 
Population distribution is represented mainly by scattered settlement, given the rural nature of the area.

Travel directions to Knockanore:

Take the Tallow/Youghal road and, depending on your direction, take a left/right turn at The Pike (approx. 5 miles outside Tallow), which is signposted for Knocknanore, and drive straight on until you arrive at the village. The KGK (Knockanore/Glendine/Kilwatermoy) Community Hall is at the back of the National School.

Number 1 (Supplement) 3rd January, 2014

Spring Concert
St. George's Church, Mitchelstown
Friday, 30th. May, 2014 at 8.15 pm


The Orpheus Choir:                  
Haydn - Come, gentle Spring (from 'The Seasons')
Mendelssohn - An old romance
Elgar - My love dwelt in a Northern land
Macfarren - Orpheus, withhis lute

Andrew Thomson - baritone:
Mendelssohn - Lord God of Abraham (from 'Elijah')

The Orpheus Choir:
Moeran (arr.) - The Sailor and young Nancy
Reynolds (arr.) - She moved through the fair
MacCunn - Oh where art thou dreaming?
Vaughan Williams (arr.) - The Turtle Dove

Catherine O'Carroll - soprano:
Mozart - Recit: E Susanna non vien.. - Aria: Dove sono.... (from 'Le Nozze di Figaro')

The Orpheus Female Choir:
Mozart - Ricevete, o padroncina (from 'Le Nozze di Figaro')

Andrew Thomson - baritone:
Mozart - Recit: Bravo, signor padrone - Aria: Se vuol ballare (from 'Le Nozze di Figaro')

The Orpheus Choir:
Mozart - Amanti costanti (from 'Le Nozze di Figaro')


The Orpheus Choir:
Lauridsen - Sure on this shining night

Catherine O'Carroll The Orpheus Male Choir:
Verdi - The Monks' Chorus (from 'La forza del destino')

The Orpheus Choir:
Verdi - Chorus of Hebrew Slaves (from 'Nabucco')

Catherine O'Carroll:
Bizet - Habanera (from 'Carmen')

The Orpheus Choir:
Bizet - Vivat, vivat le Toréro! (from 'Carmen')

Andrew Thomson The Orpheus Choir:
Bizet - Toreador Song (from 'Carmen')