A music group has detailed how it used top-of-the-range, virtual conference software in order to raise funds for Naas General Hospital.
Over the course of the pandemic, Nás na Rí (NNR) implemented a software called JAMULUS, a relatively unheard-of computer programme which was specially designed for musicians.
According to NNR, it provides a "far superior listening and learning experience to Zoom, and specialized equipment was required by each member to facilitate rehearsing from home."
Musical Director Nathan Barrett also commented on the programme: "JAMULUS is a fabulous open-source software, which unlike other forms of audio technology, eliminates (most) time delay to give a near 'instant' rehearsal sound."
NNR also credited JAMULUS for allowing it to hold virtual rehearsals throughout 2020 and 2021.
Over the course of 2020 and 2021, the group succeeded in raising over €3,780 for both the Friends of Naas Hospital and St. Brigid’s Hospice through virtual performances and mini concerts as well as social nights, coffee evenings and sing-alongs.
In addition, Mr Barrett also provided music theory classes via Zoom to keep everyone involved.
NNR also revealed that it took part in a masterclass with Bob Chilcott, a world-renowned composer of choral music and member of The King’s Singers, earlier this year.
"Mr. Chilcott was surprised and delighted that the choir had learned his 'Little Jazz Mass' composition using Jamulus and was very complimentary of the quality of sound produced by the Nás na Rí Singers," NNR said.
Speaking on the group's resilience during the pandemic, Mr Barrett said: "It is a testament to the choir’s resilience and commitment to music-making that we have sustained our singing for the duration of the pandemic."
He also thanked Chairperson Edel Fitzmaurice and the rest of the committee for "their tireless work."
NNR will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in style in 2022, and have detailed that it is looking forward to better times ahead for choral singing and performing.
It explained: "Members of the committee have completed Covid Safety training and look forward to returning to 'in-person' rehearsals when it is safe to do so."
"Coming so close to our 50th Anniversary, ensuring the continuing longevity of the Nás na Rí Singers was uppermost in our minds, along with the health and safety of all our members," Chairperson Fitzmaurice added.
"With such a large membership, it is more practical to continue online for now, But big plans are afoot for the 50th Anniversary in 2022 and the thrill of performing the choir’s ever-growing repertoire of classical songs and well-known favourites to a real live audience, is something for the singers and their fans to look forward to in the not-to-distant future," NNR concluded.
The group also wished to bring attention to the fact that this week is National Singing Week, which is being run by Sing Ireland in association with Mental Health Ireland.
According to its website, Nás na Rí a mixed-voice choir of nearly 70 members, based in Naas, Co. Kildare, but it also includes members from Wicklow and Dublin.
The choir previously gathered on Thursday evenings, September to May, for rehearsals, coffee and chat at Scoil Bhríde at the Sallins Road in Naas.
Previously, the group choir has collaborated with young emerging musicians, local youth choirs and schools, and has been successful in raising thousands of euro for a number of local charities, including: the Nás na Riogh Housing Association, McCauley Place, Our Lady & St David's Church Restoration Fund, St Vincent de Paul, Michael Garry House, HOPE(D), and the Scoil Bhríde Parents' Council.
Members of the choir also perform annually at Christmas for the Mill Lane and Larchfield Nursing Homes.
For further information about Nás na Rí, visit http://nasnari.weebly.com/.
In addition, anyone who wishes to get involved in National Singing Week can do so by clicking here.
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