Dublin County Choir originally grew out of a church choir in the Dundrum area, and held its first rehearsal in in Gort Mhuire, Dundrum in October 1976, its first ever number, the longest-standing members recall, being J. L. Molloy’s Kerry Dances. Over the three years following its inaugural concert (see the first concert programme), its first director, the late Eamonn Kealy, directed the choir with great success, attracting new members, winning prizes at the major choral festivals and presenting the choir’s first concert on 26th May 1977 in the RDS Concert Hall.
Among the choir’s successes in 1979 was winning the Finglas Music Festival. One of the other choirs competing in that festival was directed by the ex-NSO horn player, Colin Block, already beginning to make his mark as a choral director. Later that year, when ill health forced Eamonn to retire, Colin Block was invited to become the DCC’s musical director, and thus began an artistic partnership which has lasted to the present.
Under Colin’s leadership the choir earned continued success at choral competitions but also moved decisively onto the concert platform. Critical acclaim for Carmina Burana in Trinity College on 14th March 1981 marked a significant step in the choir’s progress. In the intervening years it has performed this work no fewer than seven times, and expanded its repertoire to being one of the most eclectic and adventurous of any of the big Dublin choirs. This repertoire has always ranged beyond the standard choral works – most of which it has performed at one time or another – to cover the musical spectrum from oratorio and opera to pop and Broadway musicals, Gilbert & Sullivan, and the carols which are the mainstay of its annual Christmas concerts.
The Choir is proud to have broken new choral ground by giving the first Irish performances of a number of 21st-century works, including, in 2003, the Irish première, in the presence of the composer, of Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man, which has since become a standard repertoire item for Irish choirs. We have also over the years taken part in collaborations with other choirs both at home and abroad. There was a memorable collaboration with the Culwick Choral Society when we undertook an ambitious presentation in 2004 of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast; and we have taken part in exchange visits, including joint performances both at home and away, with choirs from Germany and Québec.
Our ventures into the world of rock and pop over the years have been the stuff of legend, with exciting programmes covering ABBA, Burt Bacharach, the Beach Boys and the Beatles (to name but a few). For many of these concerts, it has been difficult to source good-quality commercially available choral arrangements, but we have been able to draw on our own resources of talent to create new and stylish arrangements for ourselves.
Since the early 1990s, the work of the musical director has been supported by the engagement of chorusmasters and -mistresses, among them John Dexter, a former Organist and Master of the Choristers in St Patrick’s Cathedral, widely experienced among large and small ensembles in Dublin and beyond. John had been with the Choir in that capacity since 1995, and had worked with the Choir in various capacities and on various occasions before that. It became clear to Colin that it would further the Choir’s best interests to appoint John as co-Musical Director. So the Choir was delighted to appoint him in that capacity from 2012.
As for all choirs, the challenges of the Covid pandemic from early 2020 put paid temporarily to performance and to live rehearsal. Thanks however to John’s inspired initiative – and a great deal of hard work on his part – Choir members were soon rehearsing every Monday night in the privacy of their own homes to a series of videos made by John that recreated to a remarkable extent the conduct and atmosphere of a real rehearsal. Thus was it that on 30 April 2022, within a few short weeks of restrictions being lifted, the Choir was able to put on a concert in Christ Church Taney featuring substantial excerpts from Mozart’s Requiem along with a range of other works.
As well as being a high-quality choir with excellent musical standards, the Choir has always been a vibrant social entity (see the menu for the Choir’s first Christmas dinner in 1976). Most seasons, the Choir organises an away-day, where we choose a hotel not too far from Dublin to hold intensive morning and afternoon rehearsals followed by an evening of dinner and party pieces. These away-days, as well as strengthening the Choir’s grasp on the works being rehearsed, help to deepen the Choir’s social bonds.
Below are links to listings of the Choir’s past performances. The lists are not yet complete, and we need your help to finish the job. If you have any information that will help us to have a fuller and more accurate record of what we’ve done in the past, please email email@example.com with your updates and we’ll see to it that they get incorporated.