Youth orchestra score with a West End star of note

A dynamic youth orchestra has bagged another West End star for its flagship performance.

Just 12 months after sharing a stage in Cork with the legendary Colm Wilkinson, members of the Cork Youth Orchestra are now rehearsing with conductor Tomás McCarthy for this year’s concert in City Hall where singer Michael Ball will take star billing.

One of the West End’s most celebrated performers, Ball has performed in some of the world’s best known musicals, including Les Misérables, Aspects of Love, West Side Story and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He has just finished a sell-out summer run in London in Sweeney Todd.

He last performed in Cork in 2004 and he said he is looking forward to returning. “I am excited to perform with the Cork Youth Orchestra, it is actually the only two concerts I am doing this year, so it is really special for me.

“I think it’s really exciting for the kids to do a different type of repertoire and something with such high pressure in a concert.

“It’s a wonderful experience for them, after all, these are the classical musicians of the future.”

The 135-member orchestra, whose members range in age from 14 to 21, performed with Altan last year.

Inspired by the success of that concert, they then set out to land a big name to perform with them.

Following months of research and negotiations with agents, they persuaded the legendary Colm Wilkinson to come to Cork for two concerts.

Such was the success of those performances, that Wilkinson contacted the orchestra a few months later to discuss collaborating with them again in the future.

Orchestra chairman, Adrian O’Mahony, said he believes the success of the Wilkinson concert played a key role in Ball’s decision to perform with them.

“We hope this will have a snowball effect over the next few years, with more big stars performing with us in Cork,” he said.

The Cork Youth Orchestra and Michael Ball will perform some of his classic hits, as well as favourite Christmas tunes, in City Hall on Dec 8 and 9 in the concert supported by the Evening Echo, Brittany Ferries and Bord Gáis.

Tickets, on sale from and Pro-Musica, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork, are priced from €40.

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