Ballyclare musician set to judge bumper festival entry

A NEWTOWNABBEY musician who studied with James Galway is heading up the woodwind adjudication at one of Northern Ireland’s most popular festivals.

Ballyclare-born Colin Irvine, former conductor of the Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band, will take his seat at the 2012 Festival of Music, Speech and Drama in Carrickfergus which starts on Friday, April 27.

A graduate of the University of Ulster, Colin has played in a number of orchestras including the Ulster Orchestra, the Northern Ireland Opera Company and was also the orchestral manager for Castleward Opera.

“I’m delighted to be taking part in what’s going to be a tremendous event this year and a great opportunity for everyone who has entered the wide range of classes on offer,” Colin said.

Promising to be the biggest ever Carrick Festival, the event has registered a bumper entry from across Northern Ireland.

Sitting alongside Colin on the judging panel will be some of the UK’s most respected music and drama personalities - brass, John Houston; strings, Andrea Rea; piano, vocal, choral and recorder, Donal McCrisken and speech and drama, Arthur Webb.

Three venues are being used: Carrick Town Hall for speech and drama week, commencing April 30, and Music Week commencing Tuesday, May 8; instrumental days, Friday, April 27, strings, April 28; brass and woodwind on Friday, May 4, in The War Memorial Hall. The primary school choir morning will be held in Downshire School on Saturday, May 12.

The festival, which started life in the 1920s, has come a long way since it was first held in a local church hall and offered just over 40 classes. Today it is affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech whose Patron is Her Majesty the Queen.