Membership and Information

Roscommon AOIC Members

An amateur choir, with a BIG heart! 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 an amateur, voluntary, community-based choir, under the expert direction of Eimear and Andrew Reynolds from Rooskey. The choir 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, usually in February and September. Members join the choir in order to help others and to date have raised in excess of €180,000 for charitable causes throughout Roscommon and further afield. Membership is open to anyone, 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 charity 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 (terms & conditions apply).

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”.

However, 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 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 and in Strokestown for the Bank of Ireland sponsored Strokestown Enterprise Town event. Four concerts were performed at Christmas: in Roscommon town for SHALOM Centre for Conflict Resolution in Africa, in Blessington, Co. Wicklow for Peter McVerry Trust/St. Vincent dePaul, in Dangan, Co. Roscommon for the local Parish and in Ballintogher, Co. Sligo for St. Teresa's National School. Christmas recitals were also held for the patients and staff in the Sacred Heart Hospital, Roscommon and, for the second year, as part of a Roscommon Chamber Christmas event in Roscommon town.

The Choir was honoured by Roscommon County Council with a Civic Reception on 17 November 2017 in recognition of its commitment to the community, was a shortlisted finalist in the Group Category for the Roscommon Volunteer Awards 2017 and the new year started in style when the choir won a Silver Award in the “Best Community Based Initiative” category of the All Ireland Community & Council Awards held in Croke Park on 03 February 2018.

Seventy-four members and family are travelling to New York in March. 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. Summer Concerts are planned for Belmullet, Co. Mayo on 10 June, Killarney, Co. Kerry on 17 June, Farnaught, Co. Leitrim on 22 June and Coole, Co. Westmeath on 24 June. Ballinasloe, Co. Galway and Longford town are currently on the agenda for Christmas 2018.  

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!

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The choir is managed by a voluntary committee: Current Executive Officers (Feb. 2018). Musical Directors: Eimear and Andrew Reynolds. Chairperson: James Hoban. 

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