Cymbal of creativity: President opens popular music academy
IT’S OFFICIAL: Michael D Higgins rocks! That was the clear message from Cork this weekend when the President proved his sense of rhythm by slipping behind a drum kit and belting the skins with the musicians of the Cork Academy of Popular Music.
Mr Higgins released his inner Keith Moon after 11-year-old drummer Michael McCarthy kindly vacated his drum kit following a 10-minute medley of rock classics by about 60 members of the academy, who range in age from 10 to 25.
Mr Higgins had heard about the academy when he visited the CIT Cork School of Music during his presidential campaign last October and he promised to return if elected. On Saturday, he was as good as his word, and officially opened the academy.
Recalling his days as a Hot Press columnist, Mr Higgins said one of his most treasured mementos of his 11 years writing for the music paper was a framed photo of Phil Lynott and Rory Gallagher playing together in Punchestown in 1982.
“The photograph was given to me by Niall Stokes of Hot Press and it’s hanging in my study in the Áras . . . listening to these superb young people perform here, it reminds me off what great talent we have in this country,” said the President.
“They were something else,” he added, as he gestured to the young performers whose medley – opening with We Will Rock You and including My Girl and Rockin’ Robin – highlighted their electric guitar, drums, bass, keyboard and vocal talents.
Mr Higgins said it was important to maintain a vibrant cultural space, particularly at a time of economic recession, and great credit was due to the directors, staff and tutors of the Cork academy for their nurturing of creativity.
“This academy will be of great benefit, not just to the young people of Cork but also further afield,” he said, noting that the training the students were receiving at the academy was giving them a confidence and self-assurance that would stand to them in later life.
Directors of the academy, Brendan Manning and Karl Rooney thanked Mr Higgins for performing the opening, with Mr Manning recalling how when visiting last October, Mr Higgins had recognised its value.
“When you said that the academy was an example of how creativity in young people can be nurtured and supported – that sort of recognition and endorsement from the President of Ireland has been an inspiration to us here at the academy,” he said.
Following the concert, Mr Higgins was presented with an electric guitar by student Caoimhe Coleman as a memento of his visit.