Spink Comhaltas qualified for funding in May 2018 from The Arts Council/ The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht/ Music Network as part of the Music Capital Scheme 2017.
Two years on, here is an update on some of the activities which this funding has allowed us to do.
We updated our already comprehensive music instrument bank further and invested in high quality piano, drum-set, cello, flutes and concertina. These instruments bring our total instrument bank to in excess of 50 instruments. We make these instruments available to our junior members as a cost effective way to access high quality instruments. The Spink Comhaltas instrument bank has been a key part of our business plan over the last number of years. It has allowed us to develop from having a single Grupa Cheoil of primarily tin whistles in the Laois Fleadh 2012 to our performance in Laois Fleadh 2019 when we had 4 Grupa Cheoils (U12, U15, U18 and O18) as well as 4 céilí bands (U12, U15, U18 and O18).
Spink Summer Seisiúns 2019 – A number of these instruments were performed with at a series of smaller weekly events during July and August as part of our summer Seisiún series – flutes, concertina, piano. These events had a weekly audience of 100 people – so a total of 700 over 7 events.
Joint concert with Male Acapella Choir – VokShok – from Salzburg, Austria – June 2019. To a capacity audience of 100 in Heritage House Abbeyleix, we hosted a joint concert with a choir group from Austria whom we met as part of an Erasmus exchange scheme.. Featuring 25 musicians in Spink Comhaltas trad orchestra performing with instruments from our instrument bank, including those funded by Music Network.
Leinster Fleadh Cheoil 2019– 12-14 July, Athboy Co Meath. All 8 of our groups and bands qualified for Leinster Fleadh in 2019. This had audiences of up to 1000 in the group and band competitions. Instruments supplied by Music Network were used in these groups – concertina, drums, piano, flutes, cello. We had 20 musicians in each of our Grupa Cheoils and 10 musicians in each of our bands – a total of 120 musicians performing.
Gig Rig at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2019 – 16th August 2019
Spink Comhaltas were invited to perform on the gig rig at the Fleadh Cheoil on Friday 16th August. This will featured 20 musicians who were using instruments purchased with Music Network funding (concertina, cellos, drums, piano, flutes)
Over the lifetime of the instruments, we expect a significant number of young musicians across Laois will learn to play music at a very cost effective price by utilising our instrument bank.
In normal circumstances, we would have had a number of events between March and September 2020. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has postponed all of these events.
We look forward to giving you an update next year on our 3rd anniversary of this funding.
Spink Comhaltas provides traditional Irish music classes to junior (under 18) and adults on the full range of Irish instruments. Our membership is from across Laois, as well as from neighbouring counties in Kildare, Kilkenny and Carlow. Our classes are in Spink and Abbeyleix and we have excellent teachers and resources. Our students are prepared for SCT Traditional Irish music exams as well as Fleadh competitions. More importantly, they learn valuable life skills in team work and community participation, as well as an appreciation of Irish culture and heritage – and have the ability to play music anywhere in the world amongst friends.
Buíochas le The Arts Council/ The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht/ Music Network.