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Gospel Music Festival set for Galway

Wednesday, 10th May, 2017 1:00am

Ireland’s biggest gospel music and choral festival makes its first visit to Galway this weekend, bringing concerts and workshops and its inimitable and fun style of performing to the City.

The Gospel Rising Music Festival was founded eight years ago in Clare has travelled to various parts of the country since its inception. This year it brings its packed programme to Galway from Friday 12 May to Sunday 14 May.

Lindsay Rountree, co-founder of the festival, explains, “The idea for the festival came about when we saw that gospel choirs were growing and we felt we needed a festival to bring that together.”

He adds that some of the festivals had a competitive choral element, but this was something that the Gospel Rising Music Festival were not particularly interested in. “We didn’t want the competitive element. We were more focused on concerts, workshops and a main concert. We wanted a more open event.”

The festival is a way of bringing together gospel choirs around the country. “Many gospel choirs were working way on their own and didn’t know each other. This encourages more interaction and choirs get to network and socialise.”

Lindsay describes the weekend as a “social, educational and fun event which brings together lovers of gospel music from all over the country to learn from each other and form networks and friendships.”

Over 350 people attend the event each year. It’s a way for attendees to share music and skills as well as network, he explains.

The workshops are a particularly worthwhile part of the festival. “People get up and sing for the first time. There is laughter and tears too,” says Lindsay. “We work hard to get good workshops.” Alongside the concerts, musical mentors from UK, Spain and all across Ireland will be in attendance.

This year’s festival is being hosted by Ignite Gospel Choir in Galway. Keara MacDhómhnaill, Musical Director of IGNITE Gospel Choir says, “The Ignite Gospel Choir are very excited that the festival is coming to Galway city this year. Galway is a festival city and adding a Gospel Music Festival to the eclectic mix is just fantastic.

“We are looking forward to performing alongside the many choirs that will be performing throughout the weekend. I believe no matter what choir you are in or if you just love to sing – there is something here for everyone.”

Some of the talent attending include Irish band Corner Boy, Rónán Ó Snodaigh (Kila), Moises Sala (Gospel Viu), Grace Savage (UK Beatboxing Champion) and Gemma Sugrue, whose 90’s club classics concert series with DJ Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra is on a huge sell-out roll. Its upcoming performance at Galway International Arts Festival sold out in record time.

On Saturday 13 May, leading Irish and international choral experts will facilitate workshops in gospel music, performance and singing for all levels. There are also two workshops with a special focus on the male voice. Some of the best gospel choirs in Ireland will be performing on Saturday, starting with the Gospel Lunch at Monroe’s Tavern from 1-3pm. Entry is free.

The main event is the annual festival concert which takes place on Saturday night at the Black Box Theatre and it showcases the many different styles that make up an ‘Irish gospel choir’. Tickets are €15/€12 via the Town Hall Theatre box office and www.tht.ie.

On Sunday 14 May, Rónán Ó Snodaigh from Kíla will host the ‘Gospel ReJig’ workshop, where he’ll bring his high energy traditional Irish music to give everyone a new perspective on the Irish gospel music scene.

Lindsay adds, “With the increasing popularity of group singing developing across Ireland and new choirs and gospel music groups popping up everywhere, this is the best chance for those groups to come together and meet each other, discover what styles are being sung within the different groups sometimes only down the road from each other.”

It is also of interest to non-choir members. “It gives them the opportunity to get that inside look and feel of what happens when you are part of a choir by getting the chance to sing and learn alongside experienced choir singers, all as one big happy family! We are very much looking forward to hosting it in Galway.”

Tickets and further details are available on www.gospelrising.com. Spaces in all events are limited and advance booking is advisable, particularly in workshops. Also see www.tht.ie for tickets to the main festival concert taking place on Saturday 13 May.

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