Choir News

Opera by the sea in Baltimore


Photos by Corey Macri (
Wild bouquet
WCCSLogoPdf copy

To everyone involved in bringing this ambitious project to life;

To choir members and choir accompanist Kevin Lewis.                                                                                                    To Lyubov and Olha, the amazing and beautiful soloists from Ukraine, who helped bring a taste of opera to a tiny venue in West Cork.                                                                                        To the visiting choristers from Germany, Martin and Christiana (we will miss you!).                                                                             To choir members who stepped forward to offer solo cameos to enhance some of our offerings.                                                       To the friends and partners who came out of their way to help with front of house and hospitality and recording the event.                                               To the Choir Committee who encourage and guide and put in all the extra hours to make it work.                                                     To the community of St Matthew’s Church in Baltimore for welcoming us with kindness and flowers as well as practicalities.                                       To the local businesses who regularly support our concerts through help with advertisement and other in so many other ways. Especially to Thornhills Electrical, Field’s of Skibbereen, The Craftyard Schull, MCS Schull and the Sign Studio in Skibbereen, the West Cork People and The Southern Star. To Cork County Council for their essential support.                                             And last, but by no means least, to the lively and warmly welcoming audience who made the effort to venture out to Baltimore and kindly offered a standing ovation each night.

Choir News

A full house triumph!

A huge vote of thanks to everyone who helped us achieve our impossible dream of bringing Dido and Aeneas and a full caste of attendants, handmaids, sailors, cupids witches, elves and a sorcerer to Skibbereen Town Hall on April 28th.  We were a little anxious about whether the public would be interested in our project but we were, in fact, sold out a week before the performance.  The audience were amazing and gave a rousing standing ovation to show their appreciation and enjoyment.  One audience member commented that;

‘I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! I thought I had no interest in opera but I was moved to all spectrums of the emotional scale. Laughing at the cherubs and witches, who were fabulous, to crying at the end.  I am in awe of you all!’

We also had a visit from local artist Michael Wright, who made a wonderful and dynamic sketch of our dress rehearsal.

As a picture speaks a thousand words I’m going to share a gallery of pictures taken by our friends on the day.

Getting ready

In the palace



In the cave


In the grove


On the dockside

The plotters return

In the palace


The end


‘It’s a triumph. You’ve won me over the Purcell!’

‘I really enjoyed the performance last night. Congratulations.’

‘Huge congratulations on all your hard work, it was a massive undertaking and a great project to be involved in.’

‘Congratulations on a wonderful performance. Such a great achievement for all concerned.’

‘Congratulations on a great show. Please pass on my appreciation to all involved.’

‘Congratulations for a fantastic musical endeavour. Kudos to all involved. You should be so proud’.

‘What a wonderful evening. The choir did you proud. Dido was magnificent and the witches got into my dreams!’

‘I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did (the rest) of a very apreciatve audience.’

‘I just wanted to send you a note to say how much I enjoyed singing  with you, the choir and the ensemble. It was a really special project which culminated in a gorgeous performance of the opera.  Congratulations – I totally appreciate the amount of work for everyone involved over many months and it was a pleasure to join you for final rehearsals and performance.’

‘Please pass on my congratulations and thanks to all of the choir- they were so welcoming, the atmosphere was really lovely throughout the weekend and they sounded fantastic!’

Choir News

Spring Fever!

dido costume 1
carthage hunting
Dido and Aeneas, engraving by Viviani

There’s a real buzz about the upcoming enhanced concert performance of Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas.

see our events page

Sewing machines whirring, glue gun to the ready, creative ideas popping, dance steps evolving, music scores becoming ragged edged and the illustration of pencilled directions growing on each page. Tickets are flying out of the door, see poster for details of how to get yours.

I can’t quite believe we are only giving one performance!

In addition to work on the opera itself we have been busy fund-raising to cover the costs of this demanding project.  The chance to bring an opera to West Cork was too exciting to resist, with it’s opportunity to introduce more people to the world of opera – glorious music, heart-felt singing and a cracking storyline to sweep us all along.  We are so delighted to be joined by professional soloists and instrumentalists from across County Cork as well as showcasing the skills of local people and talent brought to us from the Ukraine to enrich our art scene.

In addition to all the work on the opera we have been very busy raising funds to help us cover the considerable costs involved in undertaking a project like this.  We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us, from the silent and anonymous sponsors to Cork Council for their seed funding at the beginning of the project to the bric a brac sales, the cake bakers and tea makers and the performers at the noisier musical events. Here’s a small taster….

7 april 24 concert.1
cash for clobber
The Third Thing 17Apr24.1

Fund raising activities 2024!

Many thanks to the following for their support in helping to make this project happen:

Thornhill Electrical Skibbereen

Field’s SuperValu Skibbereen

Craftyard Schull

Skibbereen Garden Centre

Skibbereen Theatre Society and John Hegarty for his lighting skills

Choir News

Spring Greetings 2024

Spring Greetings!

The choir are busy rehearsing for our opera project ~ see upcoming events page. They are also preparing to delight you with cakes, tea and musical interludes to help fund the project and to showcase the amazing talent of County Cork. Please do come along and support us on the 7th April.  Pop in for half an hour or stay for the whole afternoon!

Musicians talking part include;

The Mizen piano trio with Nora Killeen, Diana Llewelyn and Susan Nares

Young musicians include

Joe Ardis, Kevin Kearney, Olivia Killeen, Danielle O’Brian, Jemima Monteiro and Jesse Best

Choir News

A Little Summer Music on Sherkin

Our visit to Sherkin Island, 18th June 2023

Ferry my piano and carry me over to Sherkin

PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-33-21 3
PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-33-21 2
PHOTO-2023-06-18-22-27-44 5

Dress rehearsal

PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-32-17 2
PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-32-17 3
PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-33-21 6

Soup Songs and Sandwiches at the Jolly Roger

PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-33-21 4

Concert at St Mona’s Church

PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-33-22 3
PHOTO-2023-06-19-14-32-18 2
PHOTO-2023-06-18-22-27-44 4
PHOTO-2023-06-18-22-27-44 3

The journey home

Many thanks to everyone who took part and helped to make it a wonderful day.  Thank you to the photographers for helping us record the day.  These events are always very much a team effort.  A special thank you to the solo performers and accompanists; Lyubov Parkomenko, Olivia Killeen, Kevin Kearney, Alfie Kennedy, Michael Martioli, Noel Burke, Uwe Hage, Nuala Gibbons, Peter O’Rourke and Kevin Lewis.

Details of the programme can be found on our past events page.

Also thanks to Cork County Council for their helpful grant towards the costs of this project.

And thanks for the presence and the kind comments from our audience:

“Your concert was the highlight of my visit from the US”

“The concert was a triumph!”

“The evening was a truly memorable experience, thank you.”

“You did a superb job. Congratulations”

“I thought it was an altogether amazing concert”

“It was an absolute fabulous evening of music!”

“The concert on Sherkin was breath-taking. I know it took so much hard work but let me tell you, it felt like a privilege to be there”

Choir News

“April is a promise that May is bound to keep”

Monet Irises
Monet spring

There’s definitely a feeling of spring and a promise of summer in the air, as the above quote by Hal Borland says.

We are just about to enter our summer term and a series of concerts that would have seemed impossible just a few weeks ago.  We are working hard learning the ins and outs of Fauré’s beautiful Requiem and some additional French repertoire, see upcoming events.

One of our new members wrote an article, about getting back to singing together, published in this week’s Southern Star. Many thanks to Phillipa for helping to keep up our profile and raising awareness about the choir locally.

Choir News

Singing into Spring 2022


After a delayed start to our spring term rehearsals it feels really great to be back singing. What a joy to be free to get together and begin work on our new programme of French music for a series of concerts planned for this summer. If you have been thinking of getting back to singing then now is a good time to come and join us on Monday evenings. (See how. )

Even though Fauré’s beautiful Requiem is written in latin we aim to sing some pieces in French.  Singing French has its special challenges. The need for nasal vowel sounds for example;

Without enough nasal quality in those very particular French vowels, you’ll sound like an awkward American, speaking Italian with a bad head cold

To help begin to tune our ears to the French ‘sound’ I promised to share a song of the week. I’ve chosen ‘Le Secret’ by Fauré sung by Gé Souzay. It is the tenderest of love songs. (Warning: The video shows a slide show of paintings of women in various states of dress and undress.) Text and translation below.

Le secret

Je veux que le matin l’ignore
Le nom que j’ai dit à la nuit,
Et qu’au vent de l’aube, sans bruit,
Comme une larme il s’évapore.
Je veux que le jour le proclame
L’amour qu’au matin j’ai caché,
Et, sur mon cœur ouvert penché,
Comme un grain d’encens il l’enflamme.
Je veux que le couchant l’oublie
Le secret que j’ai dit au jour
Et l’emporte, avec mon amour,
Aux plis de sa robe pâlie!

The secret

Would that the morn were unaware
Of the name I told to the night,
And that in the dawn breeze, silently,
It would vanish like a tear.
Would that the day might proclaim it,
The love I hid from the morn,
And poised above my open heart,
Like a grain of incense kindle it.
Would that the sunset might forget,
The secret I told to the day,
And would carry it and my love away
In the folds of its faded robe!

Translation © Richard Stokes, from A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

Thinking further ahead to a winter 2022 programme I’d like to harp back to our November 2021 concerts.  If you missed out on singing O Magnum Mysterium then there may yet be another opportunity.  Oliver put together a slide show of excerpts of the music from All Saint’s and St Fachtna’s. The full works are in our  members dropbox folder.


Choir News

A fond farewell

We welcomed a well loved visitor to our rehearsal on 1st November. Just like old times, and with a merry twinkle in her eye, Annabel came along to help us prepare the finale for our performances at the end of November (see upcoming events page).  Choir members took the opportunity to show their appreciation for all the years Annabel has served as accompanist and friend and to shower her with gifts and praise.  Annabel was just as keen to get down to the music making!


With thanks to Jacqueline Weij for the photographs.

Choir News

Return to Singing


Autumn Singers

Have you noticed how the robins are singing their autumn song along with many migrating birds?  Perhaps we are not having to defend our territory like the birds but we are joining in the chorus to lift our spirits.  We are so happy to be back to in person rehearsals and working towards a beautiful programme for this November.

Click to view printable poster or download programme leaflet

The choir have been wonderfully adaptable and positive in negotiating the new norms.  The result has been a shift in the way we used to operate, necessity being the mother of invention, as we try to adhere to pandemic guidelines and safety considerations.  Rather than weekly whole choir rehearsals we have spent the first few weeks  holding sectional rehearsals in our usual hall and in Abbeystrewry church.  Once a month we have met in the huge church in Drimoleague thanks to the kindness of Father Liam.

The best laid plans sometimes go awry and our first attempt to meet as whole choir did just that.  When we arrived at All Saints’, Drimoleague, we were met with a car park full of vans and cars belonging to a Channel 4 filming operation.   We tentatively poked our heads round the church to find that it was full of silent worshippers – no room at the inn!  Happily we found an alternative venue at very short notice.

Here is a comment on our first rehearsal of the term;

Belated thanks for a marvellous start to the Real Live rehearsals.
Dramatic, but weren’t we lucky to have Debbie’s local knowledge? Who would have thought Drimoleague to be so packed with events: a film set, a vigil AND the WCCS!
That first note when we all sang together was so moving and memorable: a confirmation of the joy of making music together and surely a sign that the Zooms were worthwhile. It was great to have others back with us again, a real encouragement and support in our new term. But most of all,  THANK YOU for your work, your patience and your choice of music.

From the 22nd October it seems that the guidelines are being relaxed further.  This means we will go ahead with our performances in November, although audiences may still be restricted in number.  Our programme has been designed as a kind of gathering or opportunity to get together to reflect on all that has been happening for us; for our families, friends and communities, in the past 20 months.  Much of the music is unaccompanied – the naked voice singing in sweet harmony seems a fitting choice for this event.  Words will also be offered in the form of readings and in a candle lighting ceremony which will give a time for reflection.

We would like to thank All Saints’ Drimoleague and St Fachtna’s Rosscarbery for their generosity in hosting these performances.

I’ll finish this blog by sharing some words by the wonderful jazz pianist Keith Jarrett:

Only the song through the land

Hallows and heals.


Choir News

Summer Song Picnic ’21

Fourteen members of the choir, who were part of the Zoom singing group, gathered with friends and family at An Sanctóir near Ballydehob on 28th June to sing a programme of acapella music. Everyone came with picnics, logs for lighting the outdoor fire pit, good cheer and plenty of news for catching up with old friends – all at a suitable social distance of course. With the weather smiling on us, the lovely surroundings and strains of music filling the air we felt really blessed.

Of course there were a few nerves beforehand. With current restrictions we’d had precious little time to rehearse together in person in the lead up. Having decided that this would be an informal sharing of songs, we took a deep breath and launched into the joy of singing together. Something we will never take for granted again!

Plans for September include preparing a programme of sacred music for performance (or two) at an evening to remember all those affected by the pandemic. After this we are hoping to start work on the French programme we had to abandon at the beginning of the first lockdown. Wishing you all a happy summer. Susan.