Cork resounds to sound of young voices

“Watch me fly, see me soar, you will see all that I am meant to be, like an eagle up on high,” sang 140 young voices, as sun blasted the steps of Cork’s Triskel Christchurch.

Cork resounds to sound of young voices

It was a demonstration for parents of some of the songs learned so far by local youngsters at a summer camp with a difference.

Chloe Lahive from Ballyvolane only signed up for Summer SING! a few weeks ago, after one of the teachers heard her and pal, Ellie Quinlan, sing at a birthday party in a children’s activity centre.

“Hopefully we’ll be better at singing at the end of the week,” said 12-year-old Chloe.

“We’re learning lot of songs and getting to know everybody — it’s fun,” said Ellie, who is going into fifth class.

As part of the week of lessons and fun, groups aged six to 12 are learning in some of the city’s finest buildings, including the Crawford Art Gallery, Unitarian Church, and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral where Musica Dei was taught yesterday morning.

Eoin McCaul is accustomed to singing in big venues, having already graced the stages of Cork Opera House and the Everyman Palace theatre.

“I really like singing, and I’ve been in a few shows before,” said Eoin, 11, from Ovens, who played Buttons in last January’s Cinderella panto at Firkin Crane.

The idea behind the week of singing fun is not to find Cork’s or Ireland’s next big singing stars. Being run at a minimal cost to parents, the programmes are accessible to children from all backgrounds, with schools in disadvantaged areas first approached to find participants.

“It’s not all about finding the next great talent, it’s all about the children enjoying themselves,” said Sonya Keogh, artistic director of ARTlifeCULTURE which runs Summer SING.

In fact, the city is alive with the sound of music for a full month as children take part in this and a series of other music camps run by Music Generation Cork City, which is partly funded by U2, with support from the City Council and education authorities.

While the children discover their own talents during the week, so too is a team of young teachers, mostly local men and women aged up to their early 20s. But some have come from much further afield, including two teachers from Malaysia, one of a number of Asian countries where ARTlifeCULTURE has run similar programmes for a number of years.

“I’ve been here since last week, and it’s really nice to meet such different children. I teach school choirs in Kuala Lumpur, but Irish kids are much more blunt — in a good way — and ask more questions,” said 27-year-old Lois Chian.

Sonya explained that the impact of programmes like this goes far beyond the musical.

“In a few days, kids can go from nought to being able to sing properly. But it encourages their general learning, and improves their self esteem and their communication.”

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