East Cork Early Music Festival: Don’t be late

Colette Sheridan reveals why you just can’t be late for East Cork’s Early Music Festival.

THE East Cork Early Music Festival, now in its twelfth year, is a labour of love for the ten-member voluntary committee.

The festival (October 9-12), of historically informed performances of music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, should attract an audience of 2,600 this year. This includes students for sold-out school concerts, which will be held in County Hall.

Conor O’Connell, treasurer of the festival, is a music teacher (of the recorder and the flute) in the County Cork School of Music. “Organising the festival takes a massive amount of work, including making applications to the Arts Council and Cork County Council,” says O’Connell.

“We book the artists, book flights and accommodation, meet the performers on arrival in Cork and chaperone them around the city and county. There is concert management, publicity and fund-raising events.”

The festival’s budget is €25,000. The Arts Council contributes 40% and Cork County Council 14%. Ticket sales contribute 22% and the rest is from patrons’ and friends’ donations, fund-raising and advertising.

“We are very grateful to the Arts Council and Cork County Council for their continued support. However, following cutbacks to our funding in recent years, we have had to rely on support from the general public to make the festival possible. This included a ‘Fundit’ campaign in 2013, which raised €3,000, and we have this year added a Paypal ‘donate’ button to our website, for those who wish to become patrons of the festival.

This year, between our recent fund-raising concert at the CIT Cork School of Music and Paypal, we have received close to €4,000. It shows that people want to support what we’re doing. The average ticket price is €15.”

The festival is now organised from the CIT Cork School of Music, where a number of the committee members are employed.

The festival straddles the city and East Cork. “This year, we’ll be at Triskel Christchurch for the first time. The other venues are CIT Cork School of Music, Ballymaloe Grainstore, St John the Baptist Church, in Midleton, with the festival club at l’Atitude (on Union Quay.)”

Sixty musicians will perform, and masterclasses will be given to youngsters at the CIT Cork School of Music. The audience is evolving. “We’re hoping to reach out to younger people, in particular, with, for example, the Cork Baroque Orchestra. We’re teaming this young, enthusiastic band with one of the world’s most respected baroque violinists, Elizabeth Wallfisch. A new development will be a gig by renowned singer/songwriter, Adrian Crowley.”

Other highlights: the Homburger/Guy duo, Canadian cellist Elinor Frey, and the choir of Midleton’s St Aloysious’ College.

Celebrating the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, The Gregory Walkers will present a Shakespeare extravaganza suitable for all the family.



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