A group of young musicians from County Armagh have been handed the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in New York City on St Patrick’s Day.
Rachel McNamee, an 18-year-old from just outside Newry, is just one of the many young people across the island of Ireland who will be performing with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland in Carnegie Hall in Manhattan on March 17.
According to their website, the Cross Border Orchestra is a peace initiative which aims to unite young people from different backgrounds through the medium of music.
On St Patrick’s Day, the Orchestra will be performing ‘Ancora’, described as “a blend of symphonic Celtic music rooted in both the Irish and Ulster-Scots traditions”, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Rachel, who is currently studying for her A-Levels and plays the clarinet in the orchestra, told Armagh I that it is a “great honour” to be participating in the show.
She says that the group from County Armagh are among the 130 young people travelling from Ireland to take part.
Rachel says that the orchestra has allowed her to improve her music and relax, welcoming people of all abilities.
“They really help you try to learn and become a better musician,” she added. “They bring all denominations and nationalities together through music and give children an opportunity to see a full symphony orchestra.”
The orchestra has members ranging from 13-years-old to early 20s, and Rachel says that the trip to New York is just one of the exciting opportunities that it brings to young people.
Said Rachel: “You often hear of people going over but you never think it’ll be you. It’s great to think that just a few people from Armagh are going over to play in New York. It’s just an amazing opportunity and it really makes people think how important music is in their lives.
“I think the anticipation and the build-up is just absolutely amazing. I’m so excited about the opportunity as it’s something that I have always wanted to do. Even visiting New York itself is something that’s really big and just being able to say I’ve performed in Carnegie Hall is amazing.
“The opportunity to go over and perform in such a prestigious place makes you feel like you’re a good proper musician. Hopefully it all goes well and the orchestra can give more young people the opportunity to perform.”