Northern Ireland news

West Belfast GAA club and Ulster Orchestra to collaborate on special piece of music

Can the joy of playing Gaelic football be captured by classical music? One west Belfast GAA club is teaming up with the Ulster Orchestra to find out. Claire Simpson reports

Dáirine Philips (12) from St Pauls GAC taking part in a unique project between Ulster Orchestra and St Pauls GAC in west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

At first glance the rarefied world of classical music seems to have little in common with the down-to-earth community ethos of the GAA.

But one special project aims to show how these different groups can learn from each other - with the aim of creating a special piece of music.

West Belfast club St Paul's GAC, based on Shaw's Road, has teamed up with the Ulster Orchestra to see how footballers can take lessons learned on the pitch into the concert hall.

Viola player Jonathan Simmance, who works with the orchestra to introduce different types of music to new audiences, will lead a series of workshops with young players from the club.

The players will explore how it feels to play football and the emotions they associate with the game.

Their responses will then be used as inspiration for the orchestra to create an original score for St Paul's which mimics the flow of the game.

The new piece is set to be played to players and supporters early next year.

Jim McGreevy, community development and cultural officer at St Paul's, said the club was thrilled to take part.

"It's going to be a privilege and real eye-opener for our coaches and young players to see up-close the team and leadership dynamics of a world-class symphony orchestra," he said.

"We are always looking for new and innovative ways we can improve and get an advantage on the pitch, so can't wait to get started."

Mr Simmance said the orchestra was heavily involved in engaging with different communities.

"The Playing in Harmony partnership gives us a great opportunity to take our work to a completely new audience and enrich even more lives through music," he said.

The club and orchestra are working with the charity, Sported, which helps support thousands of sporting organisations and community groups across the north and Britain.

Brenda Kelly, Northern Ireland National Manager at Sported, said: "We're excited to bring these two different worlds together, to share their learning and unique insight on leadership and getting the best out of teams, and give the young players from St Paul’s GAC a unique experience that will benefit them both on and off the pitch."

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