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Ireland’s internationally renowned summer music school and festival for music students and musicians of all ages, from beginners to professionals, has planned a week of events at Claregalway Castle for its 20th Anniversary ‘Gathering’ season in Galway, August 5th–August 11th.

Similar to a number of successful classical music festivals for music students in North America, one of the principal objectives of SMG is to provide access for young music students to musicians from many countries, working with local teachers and musicians at a time of the year when most students discontinue their lessons and rehearsals for a period, usually in excess of three months. The personal advantages derived from the continuous development of music performance skills in young people have been proven beyond question, not only for those aspiring to be future professional or amateur musicians, but also for young adults and seniors in every career. 

Since it was first established in Ennis and Limerick twenty years ago (Summer Music on the Shannon) SMG has been unique among international music festivals in that its mission includes a commitment to provide access to the programme with no barriers to admission based on age, level of ability or financial disadvantage. Thousands of students have come from over twenty countries and the professional faculty has included musicians from eighteen of the world’s leading symphony orchestras. Also unique in Ireland has been the annual production of a children’s opera,with no audition requirement.

Working in partnership with the Galway Youth Orchestra, SMG is planning to develop and maintain this kind of programme on a permanent basis in Claregalway Castle for young Galway musicians. Following the first week of classes in Ennis, we are now—in our new summer home at the extraordinarily beautiful location of Claregalway Castle—scheduling a range of activities for each individual student, including private and class lessons, small and large ensembles, the opportunity to perform with professional musicians in the Festival Orchestra and a number of options (depending upon numbers) including Viola for Violinists (introductory viola lessons, instruments provided), master classes with visiting musicians, Preparing for Music Exams (answers to FAQ’s), Performance Practices and Conducting. For those students wishing to stay in residence with other students, all of these activities will be programmed for each of the two weeks, in Ennis and in Claregalway.

SMG rehearsals, classes and some concerts—including memorable performance of Mendelssohn’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’— were held at Claregalway Castle for the first time in 2012, along with performances in Galway City. Five evening and two afternoon matinée performances—most of which will include students and faculty performing together—and a series of free ‘Lunchtime Concerts’ have been planned for the week of August 5th to August 11th, 2013. A highlight for this year will be SMG’s 20th Anniversary ‘Gathering’ event on Monday, August 5th, on the grounds of Claregalway Castle, which will include a picnic barbecue preceded by a concert of light classics for the family to be followed by an evening performance of favourite symphonic classics, including Beethoven’s Symphony No.6, the ‘Pastoral’ Symphony.

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