18 DEC, 2012. On October 12 at the Royal Albert Hall, London, Sharon Treacy Dunne, Founder and Director of the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland, paid tribute to the Sisters of St Louis in Dun Lughaidh, Dundalk, Ireland "who educated me, and where all this began". It was a proud moment for Triona McGinty SSL, who had taught Sharon, after hearing the public acknowledgment of St Louis' contribution to music education in such a prestigious venue.
Dundalk is a town with strong music traditions. Many students in our school played instruments, so when Sharon, former student and music teacher, discovered some instruments that had belonged to the Sisters and were no longer being used, she decided to start an orchestra. Another former student, Sinead Lambe, was teaching music to the boys in the Christian Brothers School in Newry, just across the Border so they combined the two groups. In 1995, protestant schools in Northern Ireland were invited to join. Thus the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland was established as a peace initiative and is now composed of 120 young people from all over Ireland.
The CBOI is not a "classical orchestra". Its music highlights the pop, folk and traditional cultures of the island of Ireland. It uses all the instruments of a full symphony orchestra but includes for example Lambeg Drums, Uilleann Pipes and Highland Pipes. The orchestra is led by some of Ireland's top professional musicians including: Conductor, Gearoid Grant; Violinist, Patricia Treacy (another St Louis past pupil!); Tenor, Emmanuel Lawler; and Uilleann Piper, Patrick Martin.
The CBOI has many notable achievements:
- It represented Ireland, the UK, and Europe, at the historic World Expo in Shanghai in 2010, where they received an award for the most "Outstanding International Performance."
- It has toured the USA many times, since it's first US performance in Louisville, California.
- It is the only amateur organization in Ireland's history to have sold out Carnegie Hall, New York. It repeated this success on many occasions, selling out prestigious venues including Chicago Symphony Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, and Lincoln Center, New York.
- It has performed in many European countries such as Italy, England, Czech Republic and Finland.
- It has performed at Áras an UachtaráIn for President McAleese and at Hillsborough Castle for Queen Elizabeth II.