With the school choir competitions having been held at St Mary’s College last week, this morning hundreds of eager young competitors begann taking to the platforms of the Millennium Forum and The Playhouse to showcase the talents that have been polished through practise in the hope of winning one of the highly sought after and specially struck centenary medals.
Feis Secretary Aisling Bonner told the ‘Journal’: “As we begin the 100th Feis Dhoire Cholmcille we firstly want to wish every single competitor taking part this year good luck and thank them, their parents and their teachers for their continued and valued support. Thanks must also go as well to all of our sponsors whose contributions for bursaries, medals and all other aspects of the feis are invaluable to us.
“Since the first feis in 1922 the intention was to preserve and advance all aspects of our cultural heritage and to provide a platform for showcasing young talent. However, it is not all about winning but also providing young people with a variety of social skills that will help carry them wherever they might want to go in life. It is that ethos of participation and maintenance of our talent that we cherish most. It will also be a time to reflect and remember those who built the foundations that this great institution continues to stand on.
“Many of their memories are preserved by trophies named in their honour and to mark the 100th anniversary further there a series of veterans competitions for former singers and dancers that are sure to attract a lot of participation and attention this week.”
The week-long festival of music, singing and dancing will conclude on Sunday, April 24th at the Millennium Forum with the Feis Dhoire Cholmcille Gala Centenary Concert which will feature performances from home grown artists who began their successful careers at the feis. Bronagh Gallagher, Margaret Keys and Eoin O’Callaghan are just some of the performers and a specially commissioned film looking back over the decades of the feis will feature artists such as Roma Downey, Dana and Jonny Logan, whose father Charlie Sherrard came from the city and launched his hugely successful career at the feis.
One of the main sponsors of the concert is Paul Diamond, Chairman of Diamond Corrugated who revealed a strong family connection to Derry Feis.
He said: “It is a genuine pleasure for us to support Derry Feis in its centenary year.
“In addition to the arts, many businesses have experienced a challenging few years with Covid, but it is essential that business continues to support the arts as it’s an essential part of any society and no where more so than here in Derry.
“To reach 100 years is an incredible achievement and a great credit to the hardworking committee, the many volunteers who give of their time so freely to ensure this important cultural event continues each year.
“As a young man, my late father Gerard Diamond successfully took part in the feis in the 1930s and 1940s, which included playing piano duets with the late music maestro James MacCafferty. To this day his medals take pride of place within my home. Derry is, of course, a truly musical place with so many highly talented people representing the Maiden City at the very highest level over the years. The feis was, and continues to be the springboard for many illustrious careers within the drama and music industries. I want to congratulate all those who are taking part in this year’s feis. We are very aware of the enormous work that goes into reaching this impressive standard. It keeps Derry at the forefront of music and theatre which is something we are all very proud of.”
Competitions at the Millennium Forum and The Playhouse begin at 9.30am this morning.
A limited number of tickets are still available for the Feis Dhoire Cholmcille Gala Centenary Concert this Sunday. Tickets are available from the Millennium Forum Box Office or by ordering them online at www.millenniumforum.co.uk