Replay Sinéad – how the musical generation helped the youth of Kilkenny through the pandemic

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International soprano Sinéad Blanchfield has amazed audiences around the world for years.
Performing in packed venues with audiences ranging from several hundred to several thousand, Sinéad has performed in concert, at opera and at corporate events all over the world.

A true performer, endowed with a versatility appreciated by audiences around the world, Sinéad Blanchfield is a different diva. She is also from Larchfield in Kilkenny City – a true villager! – who knew from an early age that she wanted to be a professional singer. She credits both Primary and Secondary Presentation School where she attended school for her influence in her development as a musician.

Sinéad’s ability in the crossover genre is unmatched. Possessing a particularly versatile voice, she sings the coloratura repertoire of classical, Irish / Celtic, folk, jazz, gospel and contemporary music.

For his performances in the UK, Sinéad collaborated with the best directors and musicians of the London scene to create a surprisingly original classic / Celtic crossover sound.

In 2019, Sinéad decided to move from London to Kilkenny with his son Sydney, who is now seven years old. Sinéad felt it was time for a career change, but she didn’t stray too far from the music world, as she took on the role of Music Development Officer of Music Generation Kilkenny.

Music Generation was created by Bono and the Edge from U2. Members of the group vowed that every child, regardless of their background, would have access to music lessons.

Sinéad is making sure this vision comes true in Kilkenny with over 30 music educators involved in teaching over 6,000 children.
Here is a glimpse of the world of Sinéad….

The classic crossover is very popular. He has opened many doors for you by being so versatile in different vocal genres, from classical to Celtic and jazz.
Yes has become a very popular genre of music with the arrival on stage of Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson.
Before that, classical music was very cataloged and we didn’t cross paths, but when I was a kid, I didn’t have that state of mind. I would go from a pop song from the time at the Athens Fields and an opera aria or something by Mozart! No matter what inspired me, I just wanted to sing it, and I didn’t care where it came from.
Having had so many different and varied musical influences opened doors for me and I embarked on producing my own dynamic and very creative classic crossover show.
This led to great success on the concert platform and resulted in performances of the show all over the world – from New York to Naples, from Sydney to Shanghai – for corporate events and on ocean liners. luxury world cruise.

You left opera life and performed on the world stage to come home and work for Kilkenny’s Music Generation. We’re very lucky to have you, but why move?
I traveled a lot, nearly 150 flights a year for 10 years! I didn’t want to do this level of travel anymore.
It was time to open a new chapter and pick it up. For family reasons, I decided to return home to Kilkenny.
I had been following Music Generation and saw that they were looking for a Music Development Officer back when I was looking to return home. So everything was going well together and I was very lucky that they offered me the job.

What is Music Generation?
Music Generation started in Ireland in 2010. It was an idea Bono and Edge had come up with where they wanted every child to have access to music or singing.
It is now a national partnership program whose mission is to create inspiring experiences for children and young people through music.
It works through partnerships; by establishing partnerships with schools, youth circles, early childhood circles and by developing music from 0 to 18 years old.

How is it funded?
Nationally, philanthropic funds are provided by U2 with funding also from Irish funds and the Department of Education.
Here in Kilkenny, our funding source is from our main partner Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board in partnership with Kilkenny County Council.

Have you ever met Bono or Edge?
Not thanks to this job, but I did it once while on vacation in the south of France.
My friend and I were out for dinner and the rumor spread throughout the restaurant that we were singers. Like you, we got up and gave them some Danny Boy bars!
When the song ended, the table in the corner rose to give us a massive applause, it was Bono, Edge and his friends!

You’ve worn multiple hats in the past as a performer – this job also requires you to wear that many hats.
There are 30 music educators on our team here in Kilkenny. Basically I build partnerships with schools and in the community, I design and implement the music programs for the schools and in the community here in Kilkenny.
For example, we currently have four strands in the elementary school curriculum at the moment, one being the ukulele. So a musician walks into the school and teaches a whole class how to play the ukulele.
The program is progressive and scalable and spans the entire school year at the school. We also have a strings and vocals program and a new percussion program this year.
In the community, we have developed after-school music centers, so we have a center in the city. The creative music space opens its doors on September 30.
This is our extracurricular music center run in partnership with Foróige at DRUM, MacDonagh Shopping Center.
Our Trad hub in Castlecomer will operate every Monday after school in Castlecomer from September 27.
Next up is our Uilleann Pipe Hub which will be run this fall as a mix of online and in-person courses. We are very proud of our 12 dedicated young Uilleann Pipers who performed in “Uilleann Pipe Dreams” as part of this year’s Virtual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Over 6,000 children and youth have participated in our music programs so far this year through a wide range of school and community programs including workshops, camps and our weekly music education delivery. instrumental and vocal in our schools and after-school musical centers.

How did Music Generation help the children of Kilkenny during the pandemic?
I was very aware, when children were home schooled, that there was very limited access to creativity-focused programs like theater, dance or music after school. So I had to rearrange things for an online platform rather than going to schools to host events in person.
I designed a wellness music program for elementary school and the kids really reached out and got involved.
Before Christmas we had just under 1,200 students – we now have over 6,000 students in Kilkenny.

Kilkenny Day is happening for real this year, not just virtually. You’re involved in it as well, so what are the plans for October 10th?
We are delighted to be participating in Kilkenny Day this year. We will have a range of musical instrument tasting sessions from 11am to 5pm. The event is open to children and youth of all ages to come and try an instrument they may never have tried before.
Instruments will be provided during the day and our fantastic educators will demonstrate how to play each one.
We will also have a “house group” and students from our programs will perform. Ukulele, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Violin, Drums, Percussion, Bodhrán, Banjo, Violin and more. We really hope a lot of kids will come and try it out!

Anyone interested or wishing to know more about the music programs can contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at 087-1765493.


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