The Music, Management and Sound course in Colaiste Stiofain Naofa, on Tramore Road, in Cork city, values live performance as an integral part of a student’s development. Their annual ‘Live ‘n’ Gigging’ showcases give the public a taster of what is bubbling away at Tramore Road.
The concerts have been staged around the city and county over the years, and this year’s, the 30th, will be held at Triskel Arts Centre, which was the venue for the first. A lot has changed since 1988, as Chris Aherne, the course coordinator, reflected.
“It never ceases to amaze me how much raw talent has crossed our doorstep over the past 30 years. It has always been about showcasing the talent that we are lucky enough to nurture and we are so proud to continuously provide this platform to some of the country’s finest artists and musicians.”
Some graduates have gone on to substantial careers, including Sinead Lohan, Mick Flannery, Stephanie Rainey and Niall Connolly, as well as various members of The High Kings, Walking on Cars, The Frank and Walters, and Ten Past Seven.
The course can now also claim a connection to the Choice Music prize ‘Irish Album Of The Year’ award, as this year’s winner, O Emperor, formed while their members were studying at Stiofain Naofa.
Mick Flannery studied on the course in the mid-2000s, as he prepared his first EP and worked on his debut album,
“I got a lot from the Music, Management, and Sound Course,” said Mick. “I got to know a large group of people around my age that had similar interests. I guess, I got to place myself amongst them and see where relative strengths/weaknesses were. It has certainly helped to shape this year, in particular, for me, as the project [turning his concept album, Evening Train, into a stage musical] I started whilst on the course is making it to the Everyman this summer, for the first time.”
Someone much earlier on their career path is current student Lorraine Nash, who credits Mick’s experiences as a reason she enrolled. “My guitar teacher, James Kennedy, in Tralee, told me about the course. James is a well-known musician in Kerry and his opinion is widely respected. I had also heard that Mick Flannery was a past pupil, so that inspired me to come here.”
She looks forward to presenting some of her own solo material, as well as working with various combinations of her peers, for the ‘Live ‘n’ Gigging’ showcase.
“I’ll be performing some original songs and I’ll be joining other bands for backing vocals and keyboards. We also traditionally do a ‘full cast’ number at the end of the show. It will be a significant song, as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the course.”
Her band line-up features some of the college’s ‘Hall Of Fame’. “On the night, my band will consist of James O’Mahony, of ‘The Cassettes’, on guitar, Aaron, of ‘Archaos’, on bass, and Alexa Newall and Denisa Kearney on backing vocals. I have known all of them from the course last year, but had never been in a band with them, until now. It’s so exciting to see my songs take shape with a full band of such talented musicians. And we are so delighted to have Brendan Fennessy, of O Emperor, joining us on drums.”
Lorraine credits the course with changing her life. “I now see this as a potential job or career, whereas I had seen it purely as a hobby, up to last year. I had no knowledge of the music industry and I focused solely on songwriting.
“I now understand how to engineer and mix my own recordings. I also have the industry knowledge that I need to release and promote my songs, and I have a clearer vision of how I can navigate the murky waters of the music industry. We have professionals from every area of the music industry coming in to give us workshops and lectures in media, writing, performing agency, and promotion. It’s invaluable to get this first-hand information and contact.
“I am now involved in a community of musicians, which hadn’t been the case, and I know that we’ll work together in the future.”
The longevity of the course is equalled by the variety of styles of music that it has facilitated. Lorraine’s traditional Irish and folk-influenced music will be counterpointed by Dead Network, a four-piece rock band that has been building a reputation for their passionate, tight, live performances; Colm O’Brien, a multi-instrumentalist, who most recently won the the CIT Battle Of The Bands competition with his band, Ora Fantoma, will be playing a solo set of his own original material; vocalists such as Taylor O’Leary, a soulful R’n’B singer from Cork; Denisa, who draws inspiration from some of the most lauded of female acts, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Alabama Shakes; and Wet Tooth, a duo who describe themselves as “an eye-opening and mouth-watering display of youth.”
- 30 Years Of Live’N’Gigging is celebrated in The Triskel Arts Centre on Thursday, April 4; tickets are €12 and available at www.triskelartscentre.ie