History and Past Performances

Mullingar Choral Society has become one of the town’s longest established cultural institutions. It is a community-based, non-profit-making choir and, with approximately 80 singers, is one of the largest in the country. The Society represents a very positive aspect of Mullingar’s artistic energy and prides itself on the consistently high standards of performance which it has achieved over the years.

Mullingar Choral Society was founded as a concert choir in 1968. Its first public performance was the Fauré Requiem conducted by Fr. Frank McNamara in 1969. In the following years the membership expanded and the choir performed in Mullingar, Navan, Maynooth, and Sligo. Choral festivals, including several prize winning forays, followed in Cork and Wales.

Shane Brennan took over as Musical Director and led the choir through the eighties, continuing its development and widening its repertoire. He was followed by John White in 1992 and, in the following years, the choir performed Orff’s Carmina Burana, The Music Makers by Elgar, Haydn’s Creation, Verdi’s Requiem, the Mass in D by Dvorak, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The Choir also participated in the Voices of the World concert in Dublin and, in 1997, won the Pilib Ó Laoire Trophy at the Cork International Choral Festival.

In 1999, current Musical Director Fergus O’Carroll was appointed and, under his baton, the choir presented Handel’s Messiah for its millennium concert in 2000. 2001 saw the return of Fauré’s Requiem along with Rossini’s Stabat Mater. In 2002, the choir performed a Verdi Classics concert. The Carmina Burana made a return in 2003 accompanied by Mozart’s Coronation Mass. In 2004, The choir presented the Irish premiere of Otto Ollson’s Requiem and Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. In 2005, a Gilbert and Sullivan concert featured pieces from HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Gondoliers. A selection of Opera Classics was preformed in 2006, while 2007 saw a triumphant return of Verdi’s Requiem. New ground was broken in 2008 with Durufle’s Requiem and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, both of which were performed in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, and subsequently in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. A return visit to the National Concert Hall took place in October 2008 when the choir was invited to sing with the Dublin Concert Band to mark the band’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. In March 2010, Handel’s Messiah was performed followed in 2011 by a highly popular presentation of Opera Classics. 2012 saw the presentation of Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, conducted by Fergus O’Carroll, and Orff’s Carmina Burana under the baton of Principal Guest Conductor, Gavin Maloney. Soloists for the Messa di Gloria were Baritone, Owen Gilhooly, and Tenor, Peter Kerr. Both were joined by soprano Alish Tynan for the Carmina Burana. The Choral Society Choir was accompanied the Mullingar Cathedral Choir and the boys of Cór Scoil Mhuire. Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Solemn Vespers, and excerpts from Wallace’s Maritana comprised the 2013 Spring Concert programme.

Mozart and Wallace to score in Mullingar

(Adapted from article published in theWestmeath Examiner, Tuesday, 26th February, 2013)

Mullingar Choral Society had an exciting presentation for its Spring Concert held in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, on Sunday March 3rd. Two Mozart works, the Coronation Mass and the Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, followed by excerpts from Wallace’s Maritana comprised the evening’s 3 part programme of baroque and late nineteenth century operatic music.

The Coronation Mass was completed in 1779 in Salzburg. Mozart had just returned to the city after 18 months of fruitless job hunting, and his father Leopold  got him a job as court organist and composer at Salzburg Cathedral. The mass was almost certainly premiered there on Easter Sunday 1779.  It appears to have acquired the nickname “Coronation” at the Imperial court in Vienna in the early nineteenth century.

Famed for the beauty of its solo soprano aria Laudate Dominum (Psalm 116), the Vesperae Solennes de Confessore was completed in 1780 and is the second of two early evening Vespers composed by Mozart for liturgical use in Salzburg Cathedral. The Vesperae Solennes de Confessore follows the standard  liturgy in including the Magnificat with the five psalms utilized in the Vespers service.

William Vincent Wallace’s Maritana was first produced at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in November 1845,  the following year in Dublin and Philadelphia, and then in New York and Vienna in 1848. In 1873, Maritana became the first opera produced by the Carl Rosa Opera Company. It was revived in Dublin in 1877, and in London at Her Majesty’s in 1880, in an Italian version by Mattei. A 1902 production was seen at Covent Garden. It was produced again at the London Lyceum in 1925 and at Sadler’s Wells in 1931, remaining popular until the middle of the 20th century.

The Royal Dublin Society revived the work in concert form in 2006, with an orchestra conducted by Proinnsias O Duinn and singers led by Mairead Burke and Robin Tritschler. The abiding Irish interest in the work is reflected in the works of James Joyce, in his novel Ulysses and his stories The Dead and A Mother (in Dubliners).

The Mullingar Choral Society’s concert had an internationally acclaimed cast of soloists, Mary Hegarty, Soprano, Lynda Lee, Alto, Eamonn Mulhall, Tenor, and Owen Gilhooly, Bass. Once again, the Dublin Baroque Players provided the orchestral accompaniment, with organist Fintan Farrelly. The evening’s conductor was Fergus O’Carroll, Musical Director, Mullingar Choral Society (by kind permission RTE).

Mullingar Choral Society has a history going back to 1968 and is a shining gem in the town’s cultural crown. The choir is made up of ordinary men and women who turn in an extraordinary performance year after year. The annual Spring Concert  is one of the highlights of the town’s calendar of events.


Spring Concert 2016


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