I made the trip back to Waterford earlier this month to catch the National Youth Orchestra concert. The main reason was to see my nephew Adam play (in the trumpet section of course), but there was a bonus secondary reason, I got to see Gearoid Grant conduct them on his farewell tour. I played in the Junior Youth Orchestra (see below) under Gearoid in the mid to late 80’s. He is inspirational today as he was all those years ago, it was so nice to meet him for a quick chat & picture at the end of the concert.

The concert opened with a Sibelius Finlandia, followed by concerto movements played by Claire O’Connor (Violin), Carl Roewer (Bassoon) and Leo Brychta (Trumpet) playing music by Lalo, Mozart and Haydn. The first half finished with Leroy Andersen’s Irish Suite (bringing back memories of 86 for me, when we also played the work). The second half saw the orchestra play Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony. It was a really enjoyable program, really well played by the Orchestra.

Gearoid Grant, Adam Mernin, David Quinlan

Concert Review – August 2022 – Waterford News & Star

Junior Irish Youth Orchestra

Or, the “J” as it was referred to back then. My journey started with audition in autumn of 1985 I guess. My dad reminded me during the concert weekend above, that it was his idea, going against the wishes of my teacher at the time, for me not to play my grade exam pieces at the audition so I would stand out. Turns out it worked (both for me, and another of the players on the day too), I won a place in the Trumpet Section playing Rondino by Allan Street! I played with the J from winter course ’85 until summer ’88 including the famous concert tour of Cyprus in ’86. The winter courses were held in Blackrock College in Dublin, the summer, a bit more local to me in Newtown School in Waterford. Our trumpet tutor during my time with the JIYO was Jimmy Cavanagh, he may be amused to know I still sometimes hear his voice in my head when I get sight reading transpositions wrong! Concerts usually took place after the Summer course. In a moment of idiocy on my behalf, I binned all my memorabilia from my time with the Orchestra, so my recollections of programme’s played and venues may be a bit sketchy… but here goes…

Concert – Summer 86 (National Concert Hall, Dublin), including concert tour in Cyprus

  • Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italien (on tour) – Romeo & Juliet (Concert)
  • Anderson: Irish Suite
  • Ravel: Bolero
  • Cypriot Folk Tune (encore)

We stayed 2 weeks in Cyprus in late August 86, a week in Nicosia and a week in Paphos. We played at least 5 concerts? several in Roman amphitheatres which was pretty cool.

Concert – Summer 87 (National Concert Hall, Dublin)

  • Bizet: l’arlesienne suite no 1 (I think)
  • A piano concerto? Finghin Collins?
  • Borodin: Symphony No 2

Concert – Summer 88

I seem to remember this was 2 concerts, in Salthill Galway, and in the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin

  • Rodney-Bennett: Porgy & Bess Suite
  • Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
  • Dvorak: Symphony No 9

I’m not sure I have the programme’s correct, the Borodin / Dvorak could have been the other way around. All concerts were conducted by Gearoid Grant.

Irish Youth Orchestra

I auditioned for the “I” in autumn 88, winning a place after a few bars of mvt 1 of the Haydn concerto. Back then, the “I” was from age 16 to 21 and there was a big jump in standard too, where some of the older players in the section were already at music colleges. A great learning experience too from a symphonic repertoire perspective, it certainly got more challenging. We also got to work with more tutors, I remember having Jo Cisibi, Eoin Daly, Killian Bannister, Graham Hastings over my time there. Another difference from the “I” was concerts in winter season and summer season, and potentially different conductors for each course. Winter courses were in Alexandra college in Dundrum, summer courses in Newtown school Waterford.

Winter 88/89 – NCH, Hugh McGuire

Thanks to Siobhan Murphy-Cosgrave for the programme – I couldn’t remember it!

  • Dvorak: Scherzo Capriccioso
  • Smetana: Vltava
  • Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espangol
  • Tchaikovsky: Polonaise and Waltz from “Eugene Onegin”
  • Bizet: L’Arlesienne (From Suites 1&2)
  • Borodin: Polovtsian Dances (From ‘Prince Igor’)

This was the orchestra’s 21st year celebration I think. I seem to remember being picked out to go to the NCH for a party / meal one evening during the course.

Summer 89 – St Canices Kilkenny, NCH Dublin & Concert Tour in France, Robert Houlihan

  • Glinka Russlan & Ludmila
  • Seorsie Bodly, Symphony No 2
  • Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition

We did 3 concerts in France, Strasbourg, Besanson and Metz. We visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg and I seem to remember a party in the ambassadors residence in Luxembourg (can’t remember if there was any Ferrero Rocher). The orchestra was (I think) renamed after this course.

National Youth Orchestra of Ireland

Winter 89/90 NCH, Dublin, Hugh McGuire

  • Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Ballet (Complete)

Summer 90 City Hall, Cork, NCH Dublin, Bryden Thomson

  • Elgar: In the South
  • Mozart: Flute Concerto in G – Patricia Moynihan
  • Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique

Winter 90/91 NCH, Dublin, Hugh McGuire

  • Victory: The Broad and Narrow Ways
  • Mozart: Adagio and Fugue in C Minor
  • Stravinsky: Pretruschka

Summer 91 Tramore, Co. Waterford, NCH Dublin, Hugh McGuire

  • Seán Ó Riada: Mise Eire
  • Stravinsky: Rite of Spring

I’m not sure maestro McGuire was a fan of the ORiada, if I remember correctly, we omitted a movement and played it out of sequence.

Winter 91/92 NCH, Dublin, Albert Rosen

  • Wagner: Die Meistersinger
  • Schubert: Symphony No 5
  • Strauss: Ein Heldenleben

Summer 92 RTC Waterford, City Hall Cork, NCH Dublin, Albert Rosen

  • Arutunian: Trumpet Concerto, Mark O’Keeffe
  • Mahler: Symphony No 2

Winter 92/93 NCH Dublin, En Shao

  • Farbach: 1845: An Irish Elegy
  • Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (Excerpts Suites 1 and 2)
  • Holst: The Planets

Summer 93 RTC Waterford, NCH Dublin, Albert Rosen

  • Janacek: Sinfonietta
  • Mahler: Symphony No 5

Winter 94/95 NCH, Dublin, Albert Rosen

This was a bonus course for me, I got asked back due to shortage of players!

  • Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
  • Respighi: Feste Romane
  • Strauss: Symphonia Domestica


To date, I’ve attended 3 x-NYOI events that have been organised to celebrate landmark birthdays of the organisation.

30 years – UL Concert Hall, Limerick, Hugh McGuire

  • Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italien
  • Strauss: Don Juan

35 years – City Hall, Cork, Robert Houlihan

  • Dvorak: 8th Symphony

40 years – NCH, Dublin, Gearoid Grant

  • Brass Group : Various Philip Jones arrangements
  • Dvorak: Symphony No 9

COVID ruined any plans for the 50th!

“We want you back on stage” Poster – framed and hanging in my office!