The idea of being asked to perform a ‘party piece’ still fills me with dread

They’re generating a musical about John Hume in Derry, as you might have heard.

No question the portrayal of the politician and Nobel Prize winner in the approaching generation will be far more major than John Travolta’s strutting star convert in Grease, but I do like the notion of showcasing Hume’s musicality and that of the town he beloved so very well.

“Peace is the phrase,” as Travolta just about sang.

Expanding up musically mediocre in a area total of melodious expertise is complicated, allow me tell you.

We saw lots of musicals locally as young ones in Derry. A night time at Oklahoma! was a specific emphasize. The upcoming working day just one of my classmates, Stephen, who’d been at the exact show the preceding evening, sat down at the teacher’s piano and belted out all the most effective figures from memory: Oh What A Lovely Mornin’ The Surrey With The Fringe On Top, and so on, with not a scrap of sheet music in sight.

As his uncle was Phil Coulter, maybe it should not have been stunning.

Our instructor Mrs Connelly unquestionably passed no remarks. Her son, Tony, RTÉ’s Europe editor, informed Miriam O’Callaghan last yr how his mom had played piano in the dim when she was pregnant with him. He’s been participating in guitar with his pal immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill for many years.

Brigadoon was the most memorable, being about a location that disappeared and reappeared, a great deal like the London that was consistently obliterated and reinstated on indications all around our metropolis

The cello was my instrument. I knew how beautiful it could and ought to sound, but could not make it sing with my incompetent palms, and wasn’t disciplined enough for all the follow necessary to strengthen.

I would document myself in my bed room practising scales on my very little tape deck, and then play the cassette about and above when I lounged all around reading.

I was a single of quite a few young Catholics and Protestants bussed to a neutral venue on a Saturday morning with a bunch of devices bashing each individual other out of tune in the boot.

The idea will have to have been that we could prevail over any variations by manufacturing beautiful audio jointly, or off-tempo approximations of the classics at the incredibly minimum.

I soldiered much too in our university orchestra. Mo Hume, as beloved as her father, guide the violins together with her close friend, Elizabeth. They were being Sixth Formers, and we had been totally in awe of them.

Excellent fun ensued when university musicals ended up generated. Brigadoon was the most memorable, currently being about a put that disappeared and reappeared, a great deal like the London that was frequently obliterated and reinstated on signs all around our town. The faculty went all out and hired a smoke equipment to obscure action on phase anytime the “Scottish village” was supposedly fading mysteriously into the highland mists.

Derry’s joyous pageant of tunes and dance was, for the likes of me, wilting under the glare of the stern adjudicators,  a terrifying experience

Sadly, the haze seeped into our makeshift orchestra pit, obscuring the scores on our rickety tunes stands and producing our orchestral manoeuvres considerably tough. The cello part would not have been the most challenging anyway, so we just sawed away blindly with our bows, shoulders shaking as we tried using and failed to stifle laughter, our bad conductor spluttering as she waved her baton frantically.

Throughout peaceful times among musical numbers, when the extra forward ladies – some dressed as boys – were being strutting their things on stage, a gentle rustle would suggest a bag of Kola Kubes or Brandy Balls approaching from the other facet of the orchestra.

The bag would move about the 1st violins, second violins and violas, towards the ragtag assembly of several wind, brass and percussion devices, ahead of finally creating it to the most worthless of the cello gamers. I was pretty a great deal a backbencher.

But if there was a lone sweet trapped in the corner of the crumpled paper by the time it achieved me, it felt like a lottery gain.

An additional teacher was the statuesque Mrs Casey, whose entrepreneurial son, Peter, would contest the 2018 Irish presidential election, and was a decide on the Irish tv edition of Dragon’s Den.

She advised that my quavering singing voice ought to be “trained” so I went to a tunes college in town but it was another environment, one for the extremely-proficient and confident, and I realized in my bones I would not be back.

The plan of being questioned to complete a “party piece” nonetheless fills me with dread.

Each individual April Derry’s musical youth took to the stage for an occasion that was for several a joyous competition of new music and dance but for the likes of me, wilting under the glare of the stern adjudicators, a terrifying expertise. The Derry Feis has just celebrated its centenary yr.

In my working day it took area in the Guildhall, a landmark purple sandstone constructing sitting down involving the exterior of the city’s historic walls and the west lender of the River Foyle. A single of playwright Brian Friel’s masterpieces, Translations, starring Stephen Rea, premiered there in 1980.

The IRA bombed the magnificent constructing in 1972.

House to the city council, the Guildhall had been a unionist bastion in a nationalist town. Friel’s father, Paddy Friel, a schoolmaster, claimed in the late 1960s: “There’s not even a Catholic cleaner used in the Guildhall. It’s a policy to hold Catholics out of the Guildhall by itself.”

Factors can transform when excellent men and women stand up. Further than Belief – The Lifetime and Mission of John Hume will be performed in the Guildhall in April 2023, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement.