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It’s Prom night on Leeside!

Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019 4:23pm

One of the newest additions to Cork’s music calendar is set to take place next month, bringing three totally different music nights to the city.

The Cork Proms takes place from 21-23 June as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival. Consisting of three concerts featuring the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra (COHCO), the mini-festival will traverse the orchestral beauty of Vivaldi and Mendelssohn, the hits of the most celebrated American musicals and the world of music legends like Queen and Leonard Cohen.

The event has been curated by ‘ProdiJIG: The Revolution’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ director Wayne Jordan and Cork conductor John O’Brien. The latest artistic endeavour by the COHCO, which formed in 2016, O’Brien says it will be the orchestra’s best opportunity yet to showcase the group’s true talents.

“We’d been developing a professional orchestra for so long, and since then we’ve been trying to think about how we could bring that further and do something a little bigger, something that celebrates the orchestra itself as opposed to facilitating other people doing their thing,” he tells the Cork Independent.

“We’ve done about ten opera concerts and ten other concerts in just two-and-a-half years, which is great. I suppose for people who wouldn’t necessarily come to the opera concerts but would see our other concerts, this will be cool.”

Cork Proms’ first night is all about celebrating midsummer night, with performances of work like Mendelssohn’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture’, as well as other classics, while night two will focus on American theatre.

“There is a big appetite in Cork for musical theatre, and this was a great opportunity to do those big American classics to be done, because cost always means the band you have is small,” John explains.

“With a full orchestra, we can do things like Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, with big string and brass sections, which we don’t get to do very often.”

Night three will be a more contemporary affair, with a diverse selection of Cork singers including Majella Cullagh, Kim Sheehan, Laoise Leahy and Karen Underwood performing re-imagined orchestral versions of some pop classics, from Queen to Westlife.

“We’ve picked pop songs that everyone knows but will play them in a whole different way with the orchestra. It’ll be fun, a bit silly and a bit like a party, you know. It’s about the singers getting to sing songs they’d never get a chance to normally.”

“What we’re aiming for is like a mini-festival, where there are deals for those who want to go to all three. It’s for the people in Cork, it’s their orchestra.”

Despite having lived abroad for parts of his life during his career, which includes over 40 theatre and operas and a host of film scores, short films and other work, John admits Cork “always pulls me back in for, better or worse!”

“It can be tricky when there isn’t the same infrastructure as there is in other places, but it’s good too, as it allows us to make things that don’t necessarily obey the rules. Cork people have always been very supportive, musical and knowledgeable, and the orchestra is made up from a lot of people who are from here but live abroad, so they travel back for the gigs. So there’s that sense of pride, which is great.”

Cork Proms takes place from 21-23 June at Cork Opera House. Tickets are available from

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