Category: Archive

Omagh Choir to perform in New York

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The choir, which sings a mixture of traditional Irish music, contemporary, gospel and well-known musical hits, is composed of young people from both the Catholic and Protestant communities in Omagh, Co. Tyrone.
The small town suffered a tragedy in August 1998 when a 500-pound bomb exploded in the downtown shopping area, killing 29 people and injuring more than 200.
The 30 members were recruited five years ago when music student Daryl Simpson decided to do something positive to combat the negative image of Northern Ireland. Simpson, who has just completed a master’s degree in opera, decided to put his skills to good use and begin a choir. He consulted with various people in the town who pledged their backing and then set about rallying support for the group by visiting local schools. Five years on, the 30-strong choir travels with a message. It wants to spread positive vibes and encourage peace and reconciliation.
“We want to show everyone that the North of Ireland is not all doom and gloom,” Simpson, now the musical director, said last week from Omagh.
This musical ray of sunshine has already got a calendar chock-full of appearances and concerts planned for its visit.
After the Washington concert, the choir hopes to visit the White House on Aug. 4 to present President Bush with Tyrone Crystal statuettes, donated by the company especially for this trip.
There, it will be joined by the Milwaukee Irish Fest Choir and together they will drive to New York on Aug. 5 to sing a joint concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and later visit Ground Zero.
Simpson hopes that this collaboration will bring a trans-Atlantic dimension to the work of peace and reconciliation.
“It is important to do this,” he said. “Especially after 9/11, if we can forge links on a friendship level with different cultures. It sets a wider example to the commercial world.”
On Aug. 6, after visiting the Statue of Liberty, the choir will sing at St. Patrick’s Chapel, which is near the Ground Zero site.
The next day, the carpenters union will host a reception in their honor.
That evening, there will be an informal concert, where the choir and audience members will be encouraged to meet and greet each other.
An event information phone line is (212) 591-0707.
The events are being organized and produced by the Both Sides Now Project, created by Frank Prendergast and Phil Coulter to produce public events that present a positive image of the people of Northern Ireland.

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