Children unite in song at peace proms

Published Sunday, 16 February 2014
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Around 2,000 school children from across Belfast were united in song along with Co Tyrone star Andrea Begley in Sunday's Peace Proms at the Waterfront Hall.

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The Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland (CBOI) was set up in 1995 and its Peace Proms initiative brings Catholic and Protestant children from both sides of the border together.

The scheme has worked to teach young people about different cultures and promote tolerance and peace.

Sunday's performance included hundreds of local school children, a 100-piece youth orchestra, pipers and drummers from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band, a world class tenor and violinist as well as a special appearance from songstress Andrea Begley.

The 2013 Voice UK winner told UTV it was "absolutely amazing" to perform with so many other young talented singers and musicians.

"The audience were really receptive and very warm so that's always a help when you're out there performing," she said.

"I myself have experienced great warmth and tolerance through music and meeting new people from different backgrounds.

"I have grown up thankfully in Northern Ireland in a very peaceful era, but it's certainly a cause to which I'm very happy to lend my support and it's something I feel very strongly about."

Music has the potential to break down all sorts of barriers.

Andrea Begley

Sharon Treacy-Dunne, CEO of the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland commented: "Really it's a celebration of both cultures of the island of Ireland, the Cross Border Orchestra itself was set up almost 20 years ago as a peace initiative to bring together young people from both communities and both sides of the border.

"It has done that very successfully for the past 20 years. We added a choral aspect to it because there seemed to be a desire among schools all over Ireland to get involved with the orchestra.

"They loved the message of peace and they love the whole ethos of the orchestra so we started maybe ten years ago, with about 200 schoolchildren performing in the choir with us, this year both north and south of the border, we have 17,500 children performing with us."

Francesca Fitzpatrick from Dublin, who was performing with the orchestra, said the performance meant a lot to her as her mother was originally from Belfast.

"My auntie is with me here today as well and has been to nearly every orchestra concert up here too, we just love coming back to the city where my mam and auntie grew up."

Speaking at the event Culture Minister Ní Chuilín said: "The concert here at the Waterfront is about people coming together to celebrate the rich musical culture from across Ireland.

"The Belfast Peace Proms are an excellent example of how the arts can be used to unify people, helping everyone to enjoy the diversity both within music and culture.

"The organisers of the event the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland are acclaimed both here and internationally. I am delighted they have been working with local school choirs, giving the children the unique opportunity to perform with a full symphony orchestra.

"Throughout the year their National Choral Programme also involves thousands of primary school children enabling them to put on their own concerts in villages, towns and cities cross Ireland.

"This programme helps children to appreciate music, showcase their talents, build confidence and most of all have fun. I would like to congratulate everyone involved."

© UTV News
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