In September 2014 – Ray Morgan, Chairperson of the Glengormley School of Traditional Irish Music, had the vision of establishing an annual five-day event in the form of a Traditional Music Summer School in Belfast. Ray approached traditional musician and producer Dónal O'Connor and after they had developed an initial concept they contacted a number of music organisations within Belfast and discussed the feasibility of implementing their ideas. Following a number of exploratory meetings, the organisations came together and formally constituted the Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music, in June 2015.
Annually, hundreds of traditional musicians from NI, travel to the Republic of Ireland to attend traditional music summer schools and workshop weekends such as 'The Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare', 'The South Sligo Summer School in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo' etc... Demand is high and these summer schools attract thousands of participants and audiences from across the country and internationally. At present, no similar summer schools exist in NI and our proposed project aims to address the gap in traditional music provision. The Pipe Band Musicians in Northern Ireland, which is representative of the Ulster-Scots Community, annually travel to Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, and further afield to compete in competitions and attend music festivals. However, Pipe Band musicians have never been involved directly in Traditional Irish Music Summer Schools and to this end the involvement of Highland Bagpipers and Snare Drummers will be a ground breaking initiative.
- To deliver an Annual Traditional Music Summer School within Belfast.
- To offer Internationally recognised professional musicians for tuition to participants and for performances for audiences
- To provide opportunities for meaningful interaction between cultural traditions
- To enhance and develop the skills, talent and creative ability of participants in the traditional arts, through the provision of our programme of activities.
- To provide access for engagement in traditional music within Belfast where such opportunities are lacking and in a way that will increase accessibility to the socially disadvantaged – (We hope to run a bursary scheme within the local traditional music schools and offer free places to the winners. We will offer reduced prices to large families etc.)
- To contribute towards the development and promotion of traditional arts activities within Belfast (and N.I. in general).
- To encourage and build tolerance, trust, respect and understanding among all cultural, traditional, ethnic and disabled communities.
The organisations (Board of Trustees) consist of;
Ian Burrows – Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association N.I.
Ray Morgan – Glengormley School of Traditional Irish Music
Christine Dowling – BelfastTrad Traditional Music and Dance Society
Brendan Morgan – Loch Lao Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Eireann
Dónal O’Connor – Traditional Musician & Producer
The Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music was registered as a Charity with the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland on the 19/04/2016.
Charity number NIC104823.