The award winning Coole Music Orchestra Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary today with a series of afternoon and evening concerts in the Gort Community Centre south Galway. This year’s theme was ‘Count Me In’. 250 young musicians of all ages playing with orchestras from Sligo, Cork, Galway, Dublin, Ennis, Kilbride. Athenry, Charleville, Headford and Gort performed music from the soundtrack to the Harry Potter films, pieces from Les Miserables, works by Handel and Strauss and arrangements of traditional Irish music. The orchestras were also joined by Irish dancers from the Gavin Dance Academy.
Coole Music was founded by Katharina Baker, is a registered charity, has 200 students of all ages and levels and 14 teachers. It is funded by student fees and fundraising. For the last 12 years it has been based at Gort Community School. The 40 strong Youth Orchestra is the most senior of its six orchestras which accommodate all ages from young children to Leaving Certificate students.
German born Katharina moved to Ireland in 2002 with her Kinvara born husband after she graduated with a masters in music from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm specialising in violin, ensemble conducting and education. She was shocked when she realised what little support there was in Ireland for young people wishing to study classical music. Music schools in Sweden have received government funding since the 1960s. Classes are free or cost very little and every village has a music school so music is accessible to everyone.