ABOUT US & PAST EVENTS
In September 1965, a small group of people, who were interested in bringing classical music to the community of Carlow, got together to hear a recording of Handel’s ‘Messiah’. At that meeting it was decided to form the Carlow Choral Union. Under the influence of the Carlow Cathedral organist, Dr Karl Seeldrayers and a lecturer of music in Trinity College, Dublin, Dr Joseph Groocock, the new choir began rehearsals to sing ‘Messiah’ during the following spring and on March 29th 1966, its first performance took place, to acclaim, in St Dympna’s Hospital. Since then, the choir has gone from strength to strength, benefiting greatly from the input of a series of excellent musical directors. A change of name to Carlow Choral Society came about in 1989.
Since 1965, Carlow Choral Society has become one of the most eminent names in an astounding Irish network of choral music. This success has been the result of the many talented and skilled succession of musical directors that the society has befriended since its instalment.
It was with the objective to bring live choral music to the community of Carlow that Carlow Choral Society first came to light. They are a large group of amateur singers who aim to perform to a professional standard, directed by Blanaid Murphy and assisted by accompanist Yvonne Collier. The society is committed to promoting Carlow Town and County and take every opportunity to bring visiting choirs to the locality.
With over 85 members from all over County Carlow, and surrounding counties, all singers come from many backgrounds but share in common a passion for choral music, singing and a commitment to performing to audiences throughout County Carlow, Ireland and the rest of Europe. The society was invited to take part in the 200th anniversary of Halifax choral society(the oldest choral society in the world) in 2017 with world famous Black Dyke band.
The society has a prolific concert programme with performances in early Summer and Christmas in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow as well as the annual ‘Glory of Christmas’ concert with Raymond Gubbay Ltd. in the National Concert Hall Dublin. We have a wide repertoire of many choral works such as Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. Matthew's & St. John Passion, Verdi’s Requiem, Haydn’s The Creation & Seasons, Brahms Requiem & many more.
Blánaid Murphy, began her career in London studying piano with Beatrice Franklova and organ with Ian Curror. She studied at Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith, London (Class of 1983). In 1984 she was awarded an organ scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge, graduating in music in 1987. She was Organ Scholar at Cambridge University. For four years, she furthered her studies with Professor Konrad Richter at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart (Class of 1993 · KA Certificate). She participated in the master-class at Beyruth Susan Wenckus at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Hartmut Holl and founded and directed the Murphy Singers in Stuttgart.
Blánaid Murphy has wide experience as a pianist and conductor in Germany and throughout Europe. Since 1993 she has been based in Dublin, has wide experience and is in great demand as a conductor, choral director, adjudicator, choral consultant, vocal coach and pianist. One of Ireland’s most active conductors, she has been Choral Director of the RTÉ Children’s Choir Cór na nÓg (September 1995 to December 2003) and the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Carlow Choral Society (November 1993 to 2013) and the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) Chorale (since October 2003). She was also Choral Director of Draiocht and Celtic Ayres, and Choral Director of the Irish Philharmonic Chorus on the record-breaking "Faith of Our Fathers" recording. In 1998 formed the Canzona Chamber Choir, with whom she performed in 1999-2000 J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232), St John Passion (BWV 245) and St Matthew Passion(BWV 244) in Dublin and Wexford and with whom she recorded the CD, "Scenes of an Irish Christmas". In March 1999 she conducted Carlow Choral Society's performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah in St David's Cathedral. She has been Musical Director of Dublin Bach Singers since its foundation in 2002. She conducted various choirs in many performance of Orchestra of St Cecilia: Bach Cantata Series (2001-2010). In May 2009, she was instrumental in the formation of the St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Girls’ Choir. In January 2013 at the invitation of the Sistine Chapel Choir, she directed The Palestrina Choir singing at Papal Mass in St Peter’s Basilica. Since 2013 she has been Director of Cavan’s County Choir, as part of Culture Cavan.
Another project was the recording of the CD, "Irelands voices for peace", which features many of the above choirs together with children's choirs from Northern Ireland and the proceeds of which will go towards funding a children's cross-border Choir Trust. Ireland's voices for peace has toured Wexford, National Concert Hall in Dublin and Carlow Cathedral during Eigse.
Blánaid Murphy's many recordings have included the record-breaking "Faith of Our Fathers" CD and Cór, arrangements of Irish Melodies on the ARSIS label. She has released five CD's with The Palestrina Choir; the most recent of these, "O Sacrament Most Holy", has just been released and forms part of the lead up to the International Eucharistic Congress which was held in Dublin in June 2012.
A native of Kilbride, Carlow,Yvonne began her studies at the Cork School of Music before moving to the Birmingham Conservatoire to study with Philip Martin and Victor San Giorgio where she graduated with a Post-Graduate Diploma and a Master of Arts in Piano Performance. Yvonne has had the opportunity to further her studies through masterclasses with internationally renowned pianists including John Lill, Peter Donohoe, Balaz Szokolay, Vladimir Tropp, Martin Roscoe, Peter Jablonski, Dmitri Aleexev to name a few. One of Yvonne’s earliest achievements was playing piano for the first televised performance of the well-known Irish rugby song “Ireland’s Call” with the Irish Rugby Team for BBC Wales more than a month before it’s launch on The Late Late Show in 1996.
A highlight of Yvonne’s career has been the invitation to perform the Grieg Piano Concerto at the Proms in Cork with the Cork School of Music Symphony Orchestra in 1999. Since then she has given many solo recitals around the country. Radio performances include a live performance on Radio One's "Rattlebag" and has been featured on Lyric FM. Television appearances include "Nationwide", The Late Late Show", "The Late Late Toy Show", "RTE School Choir Of The Year Competition" and “Feilte” on TG4. Concerto performances include the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in Bb with the Wexford Sinfonia and Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major with Queen’s Park Sinfonia in Birmingham. In 2007 Yvonne joined the Cork Youth Orchestra on their ‘Brendan Voyage’ tour of Italy as part of the International Festival of Youth Orchestras.
Yvonne enjoys performing two piano works and performed in the World Premier of an arrangement of ‘Deep River’ by Alan Cutts for 2 pianos, male voice choir and solo tenor. With fellow Carlow pianist Ruth Stanley she participated in a two piano masterclass with internationally acclaimed duo Hui and Kuok from China. She undertakes much Repetiteur work and was part of the specially commissioned opera for Carlow – “Shelter Me FromThe Rain” by Brian Irvine performed in the GB Shaw Theatre in Carlow where she featured as guest player with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. In the summer of 2012 she was based in Belfast where she worked as Repetiteur with Northern Ireland Opera on 5 short Operas under conductor Fergus Sheil and performed these both in Belfast and also in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. She also worked on Britten’s Noah’s Flood as part of the London 2012 festival.
Yvonne has worked as accompanist to many choirs including Carlow Choral Scoiety, Wexford Festival Singers, Kilkenny Arts Festival Choir, Aspiro, Gorey Choral Group and Vocare Vocal Group, Wexford who were invited to premier Carol Barnett’s Bluegrass Mass in Carnegie Hall, New York in March 2013. Another highlight of her career has been working as piano tutor to Irish actress Saoirse Ronan on Neil Jordan’s most recent film Byzantium. Following her successful work with Saoirse she was interviewed on Radio One’s John Murray show and was featured on many national newspapers including the Irish Independent and The Daily Mail in the UK.
Yvonne’s most current project is the launch of her new accompanying website www.pianosounds.com where tracks can be downloaded to sing or play along to in preparation for exams, concerts or just pure enjoyment. The new website, whilst even in the very early days, has been creating a great interest and buzz in the music world.