Membership and Information

Roscommon AOIC Members

Not just an ordinary choir! Singing for the community, by the community! 

"Great night, they sang songs for every age, amazing" (online comment)

Who are we?
Roscommon Solstice Choir is a voluntary community based choir, under the direction of Eimear and Andrew Reynolds, that provides an outlet for people to come together in harmony to sing, to socialise and to raise money for charitable causes. 

Membership opens twice a year in February and September. Members join the choir in order to help others and to date have raised in excess of €150,000 for charitable causes throughout Roscommon and further afield. Membership is open to everyone irrespective of age, class, creed, gender or ability, with no auditions and no musical expectation.

Membership currently stands at 120 members from Co. Roscommon and surrounding counties. A large proportion of members have overcome illness or bereavement and use the choir as a pathway back to normality! Many are single people who use it as a social outlet. Quite a few are elderly and enjoy the friendships that membership brings.

What do we do?
Practices are held in Kilbride Community Centre, Four-Mile-House, Co. Roscommon on Sunday evenings during Spring and Autumn and two programmes of up to five concerts each are performed in June and December each year. The choir also participates in local community events and organises social gatherings and outings for members. Members pay their own way to practice, to concerts, to social engagements and on away trips and the two-hour concerts are offered to charities free-of-charge by the choir. 

What have we achieved?
Formed in 2013 in response to the Gathering initiative and initially set up to perform three concerts called the Roscommon Summer Solstice Concerts and then be disbanded, due to the unbelievable success of those initial concerts the choir was formed on a permanent basis. Concerts were performed throughout county Roscommon and in other places during 2014 (six) and 2015 (seven) as the choir continued to flourish and grow.

In 2016 ninety members travelled to London for Acton Homeless Concern and raised over £5,000 in the process. The choir then took part in three sold-out performances in Roscommon Arts Centre to commemorate the 1916 Centenary. Ten concerts were performed during the year and the choir was nominated for the Pride of Place Awards by Roscommon County Council. Over eighty members travelled to Belfast in November to attend the Awards Ceremony and a great week-end was capped with a runner-up award in Category 8 - Communities Reaching Out.

But 2017 has proven to be an exceptional example of the choir members generosity and commitment and how singing can have such a positive effect on others. 

The choir performed its first concert of the year in St. Brendan's Church on the Mullet Peninsula in Co. Mayo on Sunday 23rd April for local volunteers involved in the Rescue 116 recovery operation and family members of the lost crew. The concert capped a very emotional day for the choir and the community. Earlier two members had laid a wreath on the helipad at Blacksod Lighthouse where the ill-fated helicopter was due to land on the night of 14 March! 

On 20 May a Memorial Service was held in Oldtown Church in north Co. Dublin for Ciarán Smith, the winch-man on Rescue 116. As a direct result of the choirs’ previous performance it had the honour of being invited to sing at this service. The ceremony consisted of especially chosen readings, poems and songs, all of which had personal meaning for the Smith family. In all six pieces were sung by the choir, plus two solo numbers by choir Musical Director Ms Eimear Reynolds. A very moving ceremony, very emotional and very special.

Because of these earlier engagements the choir was invited to participate in a fundraising concert for the RNLI held in Cootehill, Co. Cavan on 25 August. Following a public concert in St. Michael’s Church at 6 pm, the choir sang “Amazing Grace” as a Search & Rescue helicopter did a flypast in honour of the lost crew of Rescue 116 at 8 pm and then joined Declan O’Rourke and company in the Festival Tent for the final two numbers of the concert, Leonard Cowen’s “Hallelujah” and the rousing Paul McCartney number “Mull of Kintyre”.

An honour and special privilege for the choir to be so closely involved in such a national tragedy and a fine example of a local voluntary community having such a profound affect far beyond its remit.

In February the choir appeared on RTE 1 television singing on the weekly Mass broadcast for those confined to home and in hospital. The choir sang at the Sunday Mass in Knock in May and was then honoured to be asked by Bishop Kevin Doran to perform at the Elphin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock on Sunday 20 August. This event was broadcast live on the web to the Irish diaspora and home audiences.

Also in February the choir was nominated for the international Voluntary Arts sponsored Epic Awards 2017. After beating off stiff competition from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the choir was presented with the People's Choice Award at a ceremony in Gateshead on 19th March and the choir representatives appeared on the BBC 1 Breakfast Show the following morning. The Award homecoming event was held in Kilbride on Friday 21 April and was attended by the Chairman of Voluntary Arts Ireland, the Chairman of the Association of Irish Choirs, national and local politicians, choir members, family and friends. A fitting accolade for a voluntary community group committed to others. 

In June performances were held in Raheny in Dublin for SavingDylan.com and in Strokestown for the local community. Two sold-out fundraising concerts for the choir followed at the end of September. The choir sang live on TV3 at the national launch of Team Hope Ireland Shoebox Appeal 2017 in Hannon’s Hotel, Roscommon on 14 October and in Strokestown for the Bank of Ireland sponsored Strokestown Enterprise Town event on 10 November. 

Four concerts are to be performed at Christmas: in Roscommon town on 03 Dec. for SHALOM Centre for Conflict Resolution in Africa, in Blessington, Co. Wicklow on 08 Dec. for Peter McVerry Trust/St. Vincent DePaul, in Ballintogher, Co. Sligo on 10 Dec. (World Choral Day) and in Dangan, Co. Roscommon on 17 Dec. both for local causes. 

The choir will also perform Christmas recitals for the patients and staff in the Sacred Heart Hospital, Roscommon on 15 Dec. and during a collection for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in Roscommon town on 16 Dec.

Roscommon Solstice Choir was honoured by Roscommon County Council with a Civic Reception on 17 November 2017 in recognition of its commitment to the community and was shortlisted in the Group Category for the Roscommon Volunteer Awards 2017 in December. 

Seventy members have signed up to travel to New York for a week in March 2018. The trip includes sight-seeing, walking in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Roscommon Association annual dinner and two charity concerts in the city. 

Not just an ordinary choir! Volunteer members offering their time and talents to do what they enjoy for the benefit of others who are less well off than they. A wonderful musical community reaching out to others!

In 2015 it was proposed that the choir should undertake its first venture abroad! Contact was made between the committee and Acton Homeless Concern in London. Plans were put in place to travel to London in February 2016. This was by no means an easy task but organized it was and the four-day adventure in London turned out to be a huge logistical, musical and social success. Nearly ninety members of the choir paid to travel. Singing and laughter were the twin themes and the trip made a lasting impression on choir members and everyone we encountered along the way! The concert itself raised over £5,000 (€6,250) for Acton Homeless Concern, for which the charity was extremely grateful. So happy, in fact, that the choir was invited to return! 

 

After a short break the choir resumed practice for “A Nation Once Again” a joint venture between Roscommon Solstice Choir and Roscommon Drama Group. This 1916 centenary pageant was performed to sold-out audiences in Roscommon Arts Centre on 28th, 29th and 30th April. In addition, the choir hosted a workshop with the world-renowned church-music composer Tom Kendzia in Strokestown in May and six concerts were performed in June/July and again in December for charities in Roscommon and Galway. "An evening with Roscommon Solstice Choir at Roosky church this evening. Beautiful choir, and opera singing backed up by the choir ... and a professional singer getting us all to sing Christmas songs. What a lovely start to Christmas. When the initial swell of choir voices lifted the roof it was quite emotional, tears ran down my cheeks; so many years of sitting through those at my children's and grandchildren's nativity plays. It caught Himself, too, but he kept himself face-forward so I didn't see it ..."  [online comment after Rooskey Concert 2016

 

The choir was nominated for the Pride of Place awards 2016 by Roscommon Co. Co. Over eighty members of the choir travelled to Belfast from 26 to 28 November to attend the Awards Ceremony. A great week-end was capped by a runner-up award in Category 8: Communities Reaching Out. 

 

In February 2017 the choir appeared on RTE 1 television singing on the weekly Mass broadcast. The same month it was nominated for the international Voluntary Arts sponsored Epic Awards 2017. After beating off stiff competition from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the choir was presented with the People's Choice Award at the ceremony in Gateshead on 19th March and the choir representatives appeared "on the red couch" on the BBC 1 Breakfast Show on Monday 20th March. "The Epic awards recognise the volunteerism which thrives across so much of the arts and cultural sector. … Winning the People's Choice Award is also an incredible accolade for the Roscommon Solstice Choir and reflects the huge achievements of the choir in building a supportive local creative network as well as raising significant funds for charities locally and further afield(HH: letter of congratulations). The Epic Award homecoming event was held in Kilbride on Friday 21 April and was attended by the Chairman of Voluntary Arts Ireland, Denis Stewart and the Chairman of the Association of Irish Choirs (AOIH) Jimmy O'Byrne, by national and local politicians, choir members, family and friends.

 

The choir performed its first concert of 2017 in St. Brendan's Church, Tirraun on the Mullet Peninsula in Co. Mayo on Sunday 23rd April at 6 pm for the local community, volunteers involved in the Rescue 116 recovery operation and family members of the lost crew. The concert capped a very moving day for the choir and the local community. Earlier two members had laid a wreath made by one of them on the heli-pad at Blacksod Lighthouse where the ill-fated helicopter was due to land on the night of 14 March! [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If3cK-o1msQ] The events of the day were recorded by Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent with The Irish Times and appeared in Monday’s edition of the paper. It was also covered by the local papers in Roscommon. “The Roscommon Solstice Choir once more providing comfort to people who have lost loved ones. I hope all involved know the power of their voices and the difference it makes to bereaved families” [online comment].

 

As a result of our visit to Mayo the choir sang at Ciarán Smith's Memorial Service in Oldtown Church in north Co. Dublin on Saturday 20 May. This was a massive honour for the choir and another very emotional experience for everyone involved. “I just wanted to say how amazing I think you are. I was at the service in Blacksod last month and then again yesterday in Oldtown. I … was incredibly touched by you guys. Being a professional singer …  I know how much dedication it takes for you guys to sound the way you do. You made an horrendously horrific day that bit more bearable … Well done to each and every one of you”. [message received by choir after Oldtown event]

 

On Sunday 7th May 2017 the choir sang in Knock Basilica for the 12 noon Mass (which was streamed live on the internet) and soon afterwards it was announced that the choir had received the honour of a return visit to Knock on 20 August at 3 pm in the company of the Elphin Diocese Pilgrimage 2017. Concerts are arranged for June 18 in the Parish Church in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon and June 25 in the Church of Our Lady Mother of Divine Grace, Raheny in Dublin for Saving Dylan [https://www.facebook.com/SavingDylanFinglas/] to continue the good work of raising funds for people most in need. “What an honor to have my music performed at Knock by my friends in the Roscommon choir!” (TK: online comment). 

 

Volunteer members who offer their time and money to do what they enjoy for the benefit of others who are less well off than they. A wonderful musical community reaching out to others! To contact the choir please email roscommon.solstice.choir@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/roscommon.solstice.choir  

AOIC is awaiting further information for the following member choirs in Roscommon:

  • Roscommon Solstice Choir

If your choir does not appear here, contact us at aoic@ul.ie