The Edmund Rice International heritage Centre Celebration Concert at the Theatre Royal on Friday turnd out to be a low key affair yet the quality of the performers on stage provided a wonderful night of theatrical nostalgia.
It was a pity that the wonderful barrack Street Concert Band had to play in the old foyer at about 7.15, while at the same time the band were on RTE1, as part of the Nationwide coverage of the New Rice Heritage Centre at Mount Sion. The band were in splendid form under the direction of Mark Fitzgerald and Avril Kelly, Paul Carleton, Jackie Power, Tom Keane and his beautiful daughter, Sarah, showed their talent in a showy selection from Chicago, Evita and A. J. Potter’s Finnegan’s Wake.
Edmund Rice founded the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Prothers ad it was a nice gesture to bring the fine Colaiste Chriost Ri Primary School Choir to open the performance with May The Road Rise To Greet You and a melodic and harmonic The Water Is Wide.
Radio Star, Billy McCarthy, compered the evening, with humour and skill, as he moved the perhaps over-long programme along. Former members of the Mount Sion Silver Band paid music tribute to Bro. Hilary Devitt with a catchy You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.
The excellent Edmund Rice Choral and Musical Society, with Carol McCarthy, Madge Whelan, and Mary Coppinger in beautiful voice, led the choir through a powerful set of Phantom tunes. Under Pauline Kennedy’s attentive direction, the woman’s chorus shone in Once Upon A Dream.
Olin Manning’s class provided fine support as the Mount Sion Primary Choir delighted with Liam Lawton’s beautiful Cloud’s Veil.
But it was the trio of special guests who raised the concert up into the memorable. Kathryn Smith, paul Kelly and Antoinette Heery created a warm beautiful magic. Basking in their perfrmance I remembered the late Bro. Thomas McCullagh (better known as Gussie) who gave me, and hundreds of others, the beginnings of a fine musical education.
In the audience I noticed the famous Bro. S. P. O Dugain, who is a literary legend today in past pupils’ circles. Thousands claim to have been in his class.
Indeed it was A Grand Night For Singing as Paul Kelly wowed with Take A Pair Of Sparkling Eyes and his duet with Kathryn Smith, Deep In My Heart, was a Valentine’s treat. Antoinette Heery joined Kathryn Smith for a divine We’ll Gather Lilacs and the three sang a heart-meltingly beautiful You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Billy McCarthy paid a deserved tribute to Larry Fanning who kept The Royal open in the difficult times as he introduced the highpoint of what was by then an amazing night of musical celebration. The three guests were in pristine form for a Maritana selection and I’m sure the bronze ears on the bust of William Vincent Wallace at the Flaggy Lane door stood up in pride and recognition. It was indeed Scenes That Are brightest and many many happy moments.