In Galway City, there are a plethora of choices for Saturday morning activities: the market, a walk in South Park, breakfast in town, seeing friends, or just lounging in bed. However, one of the jewels of Galway on a Saturday morning are the Saturday Morning Coffee Concerts held at St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. These musical events or “Coffee Concerts” take place at 11 am on specific Saturday mornings. Generally, there are 3 concerts per term, with approximately two weeks separating each concert. The concerts are “…run on a completely voluntary basis, and are a vital part of supporting the music education programme for young people (choristers) and less young (like some of us!!)” says Dr. Maria Tuohy.
This concert series, run by the St. Nicholas Schola Cantorum under the direction of Mark Duley, was started in 2012 in order to enhance the cultural vibrancy of Galway City, and to modernise “the ancient college of singing priests founded in the church in 1486” according to Duley. Today, both local and internationally-renowned artists grace the stage of the church to perform, such as Eoin Hynes (tenor), Aisling Kenny(soprano), Eve Garavan (soprano), Deirbhile Ni Bhrolchain (singer), Aine Sheridan (harp), Ramin Haghjoo (piano), Gergely Kuklis (violin),Peter Sebestyén (cello), Róbert Sólyóm (clarinet), and David Grealy (organ) to name a few.
Since its beginning, these Coffee Concerts have become a monthly ritual for those who appreciate music, community, and of course, treats. “Tea, coffee and a delectable variety of cakes (top ups and multiple nibbles encouraged!), are served before/at the start of the concerts, with the concerts typically running for 45-50 minutes. The entry cost of €10 includes entry to the concert, a copy of the programme, and as much tea/coffee and cake as desired.” says Tuohy.
Upcoming performances will take place on Saturday, April 28th beginning with the Choristers of St. Nicholas’ Schola Cantorum with Coole Music Youth Orchestra, and then Saturday, May 12th, and Saturday, May 26th (in collaboration with the Galway Early Music Festival). All concerts begin at 11 am, and are €10 at the door.
When asked what his favourite thing about the Saturday Morning Coffee Concerts was, Duley painted a glorious picture: “I love the special atmosphere of St Nicholas on a Saturday morning, with shoppers in and out, light (and sometimes sun!) streaming in the windows – and all accompanied by high-quality music in the special acoustic of the church. And of course the fabulous baking!”
So, next time you find yourself wandering around the Saturday market and you hear some beautiful music drifting out of St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, be sure to check it out. You might even find yourself joining in.
Mark Duley is a professional musician, originally from New Zealand, who lives and works in Ireland as an organist and conductor. He is based in Galway (and is an organist at St Nicholas) but works all over the country.
Information about the Saturday Morning Coffee Concerts can be found on their Facebook page, or on their website.