The Doire Calgach Singers is a mixed voice, cross-community, cross-border choir based in Derry in Northern Ireland. We are an amateur group and a registered charity which exists to sing and entertain. We have a written Constitution under which we elect a seven member Management Committee annually. We aim for the highest standards in what we do. Our usual public performances are in concerts and recitals for charitable organisations but on occasion we enter competitions and thereby submit ourselves to scrutiny by professional adjudicators. For example, in our most recent appearance in "Feis Dhoire Cholmcille", a prestigious festival of Irish culture, we won two trophies and we came 3rd from 10 competitors in the Sligo International Choral Festival. We were also awarded a third place in the Coleraine International Festival.
Initially formed in Nazareth House, Derry, in November 1996 by Mr Paul McKeever with the help and co-operation of the good sisters there, our first performance was at their midnight mass that year. We began with 14 singers but now have grown to 39. We have sung in a variety of venues including our local feiseanna, St Eugene's (RC) and St Columb's (Church of Ireland) Cathedrals and a number of centres in California USA during our highly acclaimed tour in July 1998.
Our current Musical Director is Mr Trevor Burnside, a well known and highly talented musician who had been our accompanist in recent performances. He took over in early May 2000. Recently the conducting has been shared by two choir members, Harry Harkin and Michael Barr.
With Trevor we continue to develop. We have expanded our repertoire greatly. Included are some of his own compositions and special arrangements.
Some Notable Events
On April 5th 2000 we organised and performed in a variety concert in aid of the Mozambique Flood Disaster Appeal and raised over £4,000. In early 2001 we organised a similar event on behalf of The Ulster Cancer Foundation with similar success.
We have sung for the United States Marine Corps at an annual event in The Beechill Hotel, Derry, to commemorate their stay there during and after WWII. On one of these occasions the Marines brought with them their full band which is based at Quantico, Virginia, USA, and The Leatherneck Pipes and Drums, a band which was formed by the Marines during their wartime stay in Derry in response to a local challenge.
We actively support The RNLI by performing each year in a charity concert in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and by singing with Phil Coulter at the annual Blessing of the Boats Service at Inch Pier also in Donegal.
At the request of John Hume we have performed for visiting Boston industrialists, for Jean Kennedy - Smith on the occasion of her visit. We helped entertain The Institute of Directors at a function in the Guildhall, Derry and many others too numerous to mention. We seek to achieve technical excellence combined with high quality entertainment. We enjoy what they do and take pleasure in entertaining our audiences.
The Choir accepted invitations to join with several other choirs in The Musical Factory’s productions of Les Misérables in Concert in Sept 2001 and One Enchanted Evening in Sept. 2002 in The Odyssey Arena, Belfast.
For the members of our choir who were able to travel to Belfast to attend the many rehearsals these were great learning experiences working under the conductor, Steve Brooker, sometimes referred to as "God" in London's West End circles and the professional soloists including Ireland's own Peter Corry, Jeff Leyton, Carmen Cusack, Joanna Mays, Cameron Blakely, Joanna Ampil, Niklas Anderson, Paul Baker and Annalene Beechey.
The choir has recorded a CD entitled, “ A Choral Odyssey “. Launched on 1st December 2003 it includes a selection of whole choir pieces in various styles and also a number of solo pieces performed by individual choir members. The proceeds go to The Foyle Hospice, Derry. Sales have been steady and to date after production costs we have raised over £3,600 ( €5,300 ).
In the recent past we have been asked to sing at weddings in local churches. This seems to be a growing aspect of our activities and we intend to develop it further in the near future.
On 4th November 2006 we provided a full concert programme for The Women’s Institute in The Queen’s Hall in Newtownards. In addition to pieces sung by the whole choir there were performances by a small instrumental group, two flautists and several individual solo singers all from within the choir’s ranks. The night was a great success. The organisers reported that all were delighted with the evening’s entertainment and the W.I. benefitted to the tune of £2,610.
2006 - 2007 was our 10th anniversary year and we planned for a number of events / activities to mark this important milestone. The first of these was a trip to Barcelona in October. We had our new uniform in place for our appearance in the annual charity concert on our return from Spain.
Sadly over the years a number of the Doire Calgach members have passed away and the choir has frequently sung at their requiem masses. In February 2007 we had a memorial service for all of the deceased. Their friends and family and past choir members participated in what is intended to be an annual event.
Californian Tour July 1998
Charles Macklin Autumn School, Culdaff, Inishowen, Oct. 1998
Charity Concert in Christ Church, Derry, 2002.
Old People’s Home Christmas Performances, Annually.
Christmas Eve Mass in Nazareth House, Derry, Annually.
Christmas Eve Mass in St Patrick’s, Pennyburn, Derry, Annually until Christmas 2008
Lifeboat Concert, Buncrana, Annually.
With Phil Coulter, The Blessing of the Boats Ceremony for RNLI, Inch Pier, Annually.
Our First CD “A Choral Odyssey” released Dec. 2003
Don Doherty Charity Concert, Millennium Forum, Derry, Oct 2001, 2003, 2005 & 2006.
City of Derry Jazz and Big band Festival, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Concert in Queen’s Hall, Newtownards, for The Women’s Institute, Nov. 2006.
Christmas Concerts with The Brittania Brass Band in the Guildhall, Derry, 19th Dec 2007 and 17th Dec 2008.
Charity Concert in Cumber Memorial Church on Friday 5th November 2010.
The background music on this page is “It Was a Very Good Year” from Harry’s CD.
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