Emmanuel – Glee Club meets the X factor meets Church music
2100 secondary students from 60 schools all over the Dublin Diocese sang their hearts out in the Helix for the “Emmanuel Live” Concerts in February.
The concerts – run by the Liturgy Resource Centre of the Dublin Diocese – are unique in Ireland with thousands of children between the ages of 12 and 17 all singing Church music, live in front of a full orchestra. The programme began with a pilot project in 2004 for about 350 students and took place in the National Concert Hall. Because of the large numbers now involved the Helix has been the venue for this annual church music festival since 2008. There is a range of liturgical music styles in the programme and this year’s theme celebrated the Year of Faith and 40 years of Trócaire.
Before getting on stage the students participated in workshops in the Helix rehearsing hymns and playing music.
There is also a competition for the positions of soloists on the night with 300 boys and girls competing against each other for a coveted solo position on the Helix stage. The response to this year’s event has been such that the stage has had to be extended in the Helix to accommodate the number of students taking part.
Particular tribute is due to the music and religion teachers around the Diocese who gave their time, energy and enthusiasm to make these concerts happen. In a church where there was much discussion about the lack of participation by young people, the enthusiasm among students for the Emmanuel Project was really heartening. The Church had no difficulty getting the attention of I tunes generation with its programme of liturgical music.
Some might find it hard to believe that teenagers would be interested in Emmanuel or any event focussing entirely on Liturgical Music, but the workshops and concerts and crucially, the music is clearly appealing to something in the souls of our young people which we hope they will carry with them for life. Teachers tell us that the music from the Emmanuel Programme is finding its way into the liturgical life of the schools and features in Graduation celebrations and other special occasions.