An epic finale to Derry’s 2013 celebrations

Shaun Davey, acclaimed composer.
Shaun Davey, acclaimed composer.

The rousing finale to Derry’s City of Culture year, Shaun Davey’s Relief of Derry Symphony, will feature over 220 musicians at The Venue.

Organisers have hailed the event, on Friday, December 20, as the most ambitious concert to be staged at The Venue this year.

Critically acclaimed Irish composer Shaun Davey is the man behind this colossal concert and he promises local folk an evening to remember. He explained that the concert was originally commissioned by the city back in 1988 and performed for the first time in the Guildhall in 1990 to commemorate the siege of the city in 1689. It has since become known as ‘The Symphony of Peace’.

“The Guildhall at the time seated just 400, so The Venue is substantially bigger,” Shaun told the ‘Journal’ this week. “So yes, I m a little daunted, but I have rewritten some to suit The Venue as it’s such a huge space to fill.”

And fill it they will. The concert will feature a stellar cast including Liam O’Flynn, Rita Connolly, Liam O’Maonlai, Gerard McChrystal, Eoin ó Beaglaioch, the combined forces of the Colmcille Pipe Band and members of the Neilston Pipeband from Glasgow led by Pipe Major Iain MacDonald, Donal Doherty and Codetta in a specially assembled 120-voice choir, Gerry O’Beirne, Noel Eccles, the Trumpets of the Britannia Concert Band and the full Ulster Orchestra, conducted by Gearoid Grant.

Shaun Davey, who grew up in Belfast, but now lives in Dublin, is a critically acclaimed Irish composer who has worked internationally in film, TV and theatre, and has received an Ivor Novello Award, two BAFTA nominations and a Broadway Tony nomination. His works, including The Relief of Derry, are regularly performed at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, Chicago Symphony Hall and as far away as the Sydney Opera House.

“I’ve chosen all this music as a tribute to the people of Derry,” Shaun went on, “and so this is an ideal opportunity to reach a wider audience with the concert, as well as a chance for those who may have missed it to see it for the first time. Personally, I think it will be the best performance ever of the piece.”

“Importantly, the whole piece was originally written to commemorate not celebrate the Relief of Derry.

“This was really important at the time, as I needed to mark the tercentenary without alienating anyone. The story is of great suffering and so I try to make music that reflects the dignity of the people of Derry.”

“This time around we have all the same people coming back and some new people involved too. Altogether there is going to be 220 people on stage! This really is an enormous concert!”

“The Relief of Derry will form the first half, and the second will be a collection of really big pieces of music. This is a concert on an epic scale and I hope it will be a fitting way to bring the curtain down on a memorable year for the people of Derry.

“I really hope that the people of the city will come out and give us a big cheer and suppport all the local people involved in all of this,” the acclaimed composer added.

“I feel very privileged to bring the Culture year to a close, and I just want to do the best job I can and do the city proud.”

Tickets for the concert are £26.50 and are available from the Culture Company box office at: