Patrick Rafter & Michael McHale
Patrick Rafter & Michael McHale
Two of the most exciting musicians in Ireland at the present time
Violinist Patrick Rafter and pianist Michael McHale come together to present a programme of Mozart, Ravel, Debussy, Ysaÿe and Franck. This a wonderful opportunity to see these two players in the intimate surrounds of St Peter’s Church of Ireland. The concert also features as a focal point for a new education project involving primary school students, funded by Creative Ireland.
Thanks to grant support from Creative Ireland, Drogheda Classical Music in partnership with St Mary’s Parish Primary School, Drogheda devised a creative music project which ran from September to December 2019. Read our full report of the project below.
Read Creative Ireland Project full report
Centred around one of the great works from the classical music repertoire, Caesar Franck’s famous violin sonata, this project brought together the ideas of creativity and talents of two groups. On one hand it involved primary school children, some of whom had no prior musical experience but were brimming with energy and ideas. On the other, we had a team of wonderful professional artists and musicians of diverse experiences and backgrounds. Led by music education specialist and viola player, Robin Panter, the students were encouraged to respond using creativity and imagination, such as movement, dance, illustration, poetry and discussion. Throughout, they were guided by professional musicians, a choreographer and a composer.
St Mary’s Parish Primary School identified a group of fourth-class students (27 pupils) who participated in the programme. The three main areas of concentrated learning tied in with the Primary School music curriculum aims of Listening and Responding, Composing, and Performing. The students listened to Franck’s expressive violin sonata in class and watched it performed on YouTube. They were encouraged to share their ideas, feelings, insights and experiences of the music. Working with the professional musicians and artists, the pupils created their own composition which followed the musical structure and form of Franck’s Violin Sonata. The composition element enabled them to work in pairs and as a class to explore sounds, play with simple musical ideas and experience the satisfaction of creating their own compositions. Pupils were encouraged to create rhythms using their bodies as percussion instruments, clapping and singing, which meant no child was prohibited from participating through lack of an instrument or ability to play. They choreographed their own movement as an expressive response to some of the poems they wrote when listening to the piece.
Over the course of the project, the students were given 9 workshops in their school, had the opportunity to meet and hear professional musicians and work with professional creative artists to compose their own work. On the day of their own performance, they travelled to Droichead Arts Centre to attend a special performance of Franck’s violin sonata by violinist Patrick Rafter and pianist Michael McHale. The students then took to the stage and delivered their 15-minute response piece.
This was a wonderful opportunity for the young pupils of St Mary’s Parish Primary School. It allowed them become the creators of the project and build their confidence as musicians and in some cases as individuals.
Born into an exceptionally musical family in Kilkenny, Patrick Rafter became recognized as a prodigious talent at the mere age of 12 and went on to receive a full scholarship to study at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM).
Today, Patrick is studying in Switzerland with international violinist Maxim Vengerov. They recently shared the stage of the National Concert Hall in Dublin when they performed Bach’s Concerto for two violins, to great audience and critical acclaim. Patrick previously performed in Drogheda as soloist with Camerata Ireland.
Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician.
Michael’s musical partners include Michael Collins (clarinet), Sir James Galway (flute) as well as being a performer with the Vanbrughs. This is Michael’s third performance in Drogheda having previously performed with Michael Collins and also Musici Ireland.
Mozart Violin Sonata No. 21 in E Minor, K. 304
Debussy Estampes, II. La soirée dans Grenade; III. Jardins sous la pluie
Debussy Sonata for violin and piano, L. 148
Ysaÿe Sonata No. 3 for solo violin “Ballade”
Franck Sonata in A major for violin and piano
…McHale played with cool authority and understated panache as one expected from a young pianist whose international career is in serious take-off mode…
Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post