Impromptu concerts brighten up quarantine

WITH nothing to do, two musicians, freelance classical musician Caimin Gilmore and Liz McLaren, a violinist with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, decided they would play duets together in their local park, Halliday Square in Stoneybatter.

“I live in Halliday Square and there is a nice green park in the middle with cherry blossom trees. A friend of mine from the orchestra, who is a freelancer, so is currently out of work at the moment, texted me and asked if I wanted to do some duets in the park and I of course said yes,” says Mclaren.

“We come out at around two o’clock, read through some music and just play together. We sit at least three meters apart from each other.”

As social distancing must be practised during this time, precautions needed to be taken.

“There is a big fence around the park so no one can come too close. People can just stand around the fence, two meters apart of course, and neighbours can hang out their windows or sit in their gardens to listen to the music,” says McLaren.

“We can’t have too many around due to the restrictions.”

They plan to have a concert every Sunday in the square, which is tucked away between Stoneybatter, Arbour Hill, and the Oxmantown Road area. 

“One week I played with my neighbour Mary Barnecutt, who is a cellist and the next week her husband joined and played the viola,” says McLauren.

“This week we are hoping to do another concert with myself and another neighbour who plays the hjarp.”

These concerts have sparked other ideas for the area to do during and beyond the lockdown.

Jordan Rennix, who runs the Halliday Square Residents Group’s Facebook and Twitter, hopes to continue the activities.

“If the weather is good we are hoping to do a music bingo for the neighbours and for anyone willing to join,” says Rennix.

“I set up an online survey to get Stoneybatter’s view and opinions on what they would like to see happen. Many said BBQ events, family days, garden parties and bake sales,” Rennix continues.

“The concert organized by Liz was the first spark to bring the community alive and it has grown over the past two times it has gone on.”

Brenda Malloy, who is a resident in the area, thinks the concerts are a great idea for the community.

“The concert I heard was really lovely. In spite of the fact that the musicians were sight-reading, they were really excellent and worked together well,” says Malloy.

“The social distancing was not a problem. Everyone seemed to be observing it. It has become a tonic for people during the lockdown.”