My Sister, the unsung hero

I attended the National Stadium on Saturday night for a couple of reasons .…  to support Aidlink for Turkana and all the great work they do, to cheer on the Mezzo Choir who were performing, and most importantly, to witness my sister in full flight as she directed over 200 singers in the finale song “Hey Day” and lifted the roof with sheer power, emotion and harmony.

Maria composed the choral score for this song, and directed the performance last week on the Ray D’Arcy show where all the wonderful Irish musicians and the full compliment of choirs involved performed.

Many rehearsals took place, including Maria taking the Mezzo Choir and St Mary’s College Singers weekly, but she was also working on the arrangement with the artists in the background, and making sure they were all singing off the same hymn sheet, if you’ll pardon the pun!

Watching the TV that night, the camera did not show Maria directing at all, as the main focus was on the stage of course, and the audience. All that work, very little recognition….

At the National Stadium, however, it was different. Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, ever the professional and wonderful MC, encouraged Maria to take a bow, and mentioned on a few occasions the time she has given and the work she continuously does with choirs in Dublin.

It was a great moment for me to see her being recognised at last.

As well as leading the Adult Mezzo Choir, Maria brings absolute joy to the Junior Mezzo Choir, (my youngest son was a member from the age of 3 to only recently) and their performances are legendary at our biannual recitals.

She is so giving with her time, and spends almost as long as I do on stage at the Mezzo Recitals, accompanying vocalists, and musicians, or backing up the band on keys if it’s a particularly difficult song rhythmically or technically for a younger student to play alone.

On one occasion, I completely lost my voice while MC ing (it had been on the cards and with numerous lozenges and throat spray I thought I would make it through  – but alas with all the shouting in the mic and still so sound coming out, I had to hand it over my very willing sister, who played a blinder for the rest of the show, again, offering her assistance and unwavering support.

She accompanies our exam students, and offers superb advice to those who she feels require it. She is calm and collected when performing and absolutely loves what she does.

The same can be said of my dad Willie, who is a huge part of the Mezzo story too.

He and Maria were the first few teachers that got involved initially when I founded Mezzo. Maria became so busy with her choirs that she had to give up teaching piano – and I’m so glad she did as look at what she is achieving now! Well done sis, you’re a legend x