Irish Youth Wind Ensemble celebrates 35 years

Irish Youth Wind Ensemble Summer Tour

A Pine Valley Productions feature, commissioned by the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble, contributors, including Artistic Director Ronan O’Reilly as well as players, conductors and support staff, talk about the achievements, the satisfaction and the challenges of this ensemble, whose repertoire goes from Bach to Gershwin, Buckley to Fukuda.

One of the enduring legacies of 1985, European Music Year, was the setting up of the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble. Since then, each summer, 60 talented young players come together for a week to rehearse and perform the colourful and challenging repertoire for symphonic wind band. It can include over twenty different wind instruments, from the tiny piccolo to the massive tuba. Despite its name, the ensemble can also have double bass, piano, harp and an extraordinary array of percussion instruments.

This year, to celebrate 35 years of this iconic youth ensemble, the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble, with the Irish Association of Youth Orchestra, have commissioned a commemorative radio documentary that will first feature on RTÉ lyric fm as the Lyric Feature on St Stephen’s Day, Saturday, 26 December at 6pm.

Contributors to the documentary include players Roisin Ní Dhonabháin and Heather Nash, one of the founding conductors Professor James Cavanagh, current Artistic Director Ronan O’Reilly, guest conductor Thomas Kelly, as well as Sinéad Ryan and Muireann Ní Dhúbhghaill from the administration staff. Music excerpts include IYWE playing anything from Bach to Gershwin, Percy Grainger to John Buckley, Philip Sparke to Yosuke Fukuda.

IYWE, supported by the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras, has been a musical training ground for many of today’s music professionals, as well as keen amateur bandplayers. Unfortunately, this year, for the first time, the planned course and concerts were cancelled due to Covid-19 however they are already planning to come together next summer, perhaps as a smaller group, but with the same gusto and enthusiasm!

You can catch the documentary as the Lyric Feature on RTÉ lyric fm on Saturday, 26 December at 6pm and you can listen live online at

The Irish Youth Wind Ensemble is supported by the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras, and funded by The Arts Council.

Pic Credit: Marc O’Sullivan

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Sarah Brooks

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