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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Choral concert to celebrate music of Sue Furlong

By Maria Pepper

Sue Furlong
Sue Furlong
Liam Bates

Over 100 musicians from across Wexford and the south east will assemble in Rowe Street Church on Sunday, May 14 for a special choral concert celebrating the music of composer Sue Furlong.

The concert beginning at 6 pm will feature a special selection of Sue's music and will culminate with the premiere performance of her inspiring arrangement of Amazing Grace.

Over the years, many of Sue's compositions and arrangements have been enjoyed nationally and internationally but next Sunday night will be the first time that Wexford will host a full concert honouring her work.

A native of Waterford, Sue has been based in Wexford for 30 years. She began composing as a teenager and her earliest compositions and published works focused on sacred music but it was in the 1990's that her composing career really took off.

Many Wexford singers now in their twenties will remember The Dancing Master - a spectacular children's choral cantata composed to commemorate the 1798 Rebellion which was commissioned by County Wexford Children's Choir and directed by Rosaleen Molloy.

It was performed in Wexford to great acclaim and its success sparked Sue's extensive career in composition for children. Several pieces from this work will feature in the concert on Sunday evening.

Other work ensued, including commissions from prestigious children's choirs 'Aspiro' in Carlow and the Appalachian Children's Chorus from West Virginia in the USA.

Following this, Sue received one of her most exciting commissions when she was asked to write a musical for children, on behalf of Solihull Music Service in Birmingham.

The Voice Thief was subsequently performed at Birmingham Symphony Hall in 2010, with an 800-strong cast of children from primary schools across England. Excerpts from The Voice Thief will be performed at the Wexford concert.

Sue conducted Wexford Festival Singers from 1998 to 2006 before founding the mixed choral group Vocare in 2007, which went on to become a multi award-winning group.

With a repertoire ranging from Bernstein's 'Chichester Psalms' to Thin Lizzy's 'Don't Believe', arranged by Sue, one of Vocaré's winning performances earned them an invitation to perform in the Carnegie Hall debut of American composer, Carol Barnett's, Bluegrass Mass, The World Beloved.

The group also played a short concert in New York's famous St Patrick's Cathedral which was conducted by Sue and included another of her works 'Truly I have set my Soul' which will also be performed next Sunday.

A talented group of Wexford musicians with a passion for Sue's music have come together to stage the concert, among them Liam Bates who will conduct. Liam is best known for his stunning choral and stage works, including Heroes of the Helen Blake, written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Fethard-on-Sea Lifeboat disaster; Child of Creation, premiered on New Year's Day 2016 as part of the 1916 Centenary Celebrations and the musical Noël, created with Wexford author, Eoin Colfer, and premiered at the National Opera House last Christmas.

Eithne Corrigan, Yvonne Collier and Mary Amond O'Brien are collaborating with Liam to ensure a memorable performance. In addition, the concert will feature choral singers and instrumentalists from all over Wexford and beyond; young singers from Aspiro in Carlow and the County Wexford School of Music along with dancers from the Wexford School of Ballet and Performing Arts.

Tickets at €15 for adults and €5 for children are available from Wexford Arts Centre, telephone 053 9123764 and can also be bought online at www.wexfordartscentre.ie

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