MILLENNIUM MUSICAL MOMENTS

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The Millennium Musical Moments concert, which was held on Sunday 5 March 2000 at the Riverside Park Hotel in Enniscorthy, showcased the talents of 130 trainees from six centres that provide day and residential care for people with intellectual disabilities–NTDI (Wexford), Windmill TTU, Árd Aoibhinn (Wexford), St Aidan’s Activation Unit (Gorey), CWCW New Ross and CWCW Enniscorthy. The concert, which received funding from the Millennium Project Awards Committee, marked the first time the six services had joined together to stage such an event.

Seamus Kiely of New Ross did a marvellous job as MC for the show. Its theme, ‘Togetherness for the Millennium’, was reflected in each of the song, dance and drama pieces performed. Several spectacular segments featured soundbeam technology, and each centre added their own touch with variety sketches. There was line dancing from ‘The Hillbillies’ of CWCW New Ross, led by Jimmy Furness and Bernadette Donoghue. Árd Aoibhinn offered Me and My Girl in black and white costumes. A 22-strong ensemble from CWCW Enniscorthy presented Phil the Fluter’s Ball. St Aidan’s filled the hall with song and dance from the ’60s and ’70s. Comedy sketches were provided by the Windmill group, and NTDI Wexford performed a Millennium Masked Ball. The atmosphere was electric throughout, among performers, staff and audience. There was a spectacular end with a party rendition of Auld Lang Syne–with balloons, streamers and bugles shooting around the function room.

The concert was organised by a working group from each of the six centres. Under the coordination of Maureen Rossiter of CWCW New Ross, they met fortnightly for several months before the event to monitor progress.

The ‘soundbeam’ musical technology was introduced to Wexford by David Jackson, formerly saxophonist with the jazz-rock group Van Der Graaf Generator. (He has also worked with the Delta Centre in Carlow.) Computers, lasers and ultrasound beams are used to generate sound in new and spontaneous ways, with body movements. Sixty-five service users each had the experience of working with David at workshops in Wexford; they played pieces they chose themselves and were also able to sample unusual percussion instruments.

Since our gala concert last March, the six centres are continuing to integrate and pool resources–even bigger events are in the pipeline!

Further information on the use of the soundbeam is described in Kevin Hoey’s report on Enter 2000 (p. 7) and on the website of The Soundbeam Project: www.soundbeam.co-uk, and in Lambe and Hogg’s book Creative arts and people with profound and multiple learning disabilities

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