Course Reviews

What they said on Facebook

When I signed up for ConCorda, I did not realise how amazing it would be! I have made so many friends and it has been and amazing experience! Memories treasured forever! Thank you to everyone!!! 🙂 x

Wooooo go concorda! just to say for my first year this was amazing) thanks guys!

Had such an amazing week at Concorda! Missing everyone soo much 🙁 thanks to all of ye for making it so memorable 🙂 <3 I’ll definitely be back next year!

Thank you so much for the BEST week of my summer:’) Loved getting to know everyone so well and will definitely be back next year! Missing it all so much:( ‚ô•

I’m so glad I went to ConCorda again this year, ye make my summer amazing! Thank you for all you did to make this an enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to see ye all again next year!

Thank you to everyone for making this course so enjoyable! I’ve learnt so much and I think we’d all love to have the Evropska Quartet back again! Hope I’ll be back next year 🙂

Thank you so much for once again another one of the most amazing weeks of the year! Best week again by far. Thanks so much to everyone, ye did a really great job and hope to see ye all next year!



I felt that my stay at Concorda was a thoroughly enjoyable one. On the first day when I arrived, I was shown by the staff to my dorm were I met my roommates. We had a nice long break to get to know each other and to get organised. The day passed with a blur as we had our first quartet session, orchestra and, of course, the inevitable name-games! My first impression was indeed a good one as all of the staff and past students helped us newbies on our way. I couldn’t wait for the week ahead!

As the week progressed, I realised several things. One, everyone could sing really, really well! For instance, when someones birthday arose and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” they sang in three-part harmony! Everyone often spontaneously burst into song during the week and it was great fun to join in! Second of all was that I recognised many of my fellow students from various music festivals and such. The music world is very small!

I definitely enjoyed the talent show the most and within that, most enjoyable of all, was the completely improvised song by Meadhbh, who had been at Concorda for the past five years. She basically managed to play the ukelele and make fun of members of the audience at the same time, while sneaking in verses of the “Peel Bananas” song! Obviously, this was no mean feat!

Overall, Concorda was a brilliant week and the music standard was very high. The concert at Castalia Hall (a truly magical venue) was an amazing experience. The Evropska Quartet’s performance there was brilliant and received a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience. Even the thing that I dreaded most, Music Theatre was extremely enjoyable and we all had a great laugh about it. I made many friends of which I hope to see again next year at Concorda. I hope that there will many new faces next year, as I think that many should go to Concorda. It was probably the most fun week I have had in a long time!

Eric Sheeran Purcell (2012)



I was looking for a summer course that gave me a challenge and ConCorda was the perfect situation because it was great inspiration and experience. It was great to get experience playing as an individual, in chamber groups and in orchestra, as well as musical theatre which helped me to gain confidence with my instrument. The tutors, in every aspect, were very helpful and I especially appreciated the input from the Evropska Quartet.

Everyone became friends tutors, staff and students, making the course relaxed and easy going. Social time was all fun and games, but when it game to playing music it was intense and rewarding. There was never a minute wasted, the balance of musical study time and leisure time was perfect. Coming from Belfast and knowing only one other person, all the activities made it easy to get to know people and have a lot of fun.

I am more confident playing now, this has come from hearing others play, students and tutors alike. My playing improved noticeably, my regular tutor commented on this and was really pleased.

Thank you very much Concorda!

Aoife McHugh (2012)



I have just attended my third ConCorda course and am as convinced as ever that nothing like it exists anywhere here in Ireland. A friendly and uncompetitive atmosphere combined with world class tutors, including members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra; violinist Marc Danel, and the Quatuor Varèse, fosters a love of music in all who attend the course. All participants are encouraged to develop at their own pace and given pieces to suit their own level. The unique opportunity to explore seemingly impossible chamber music works in a relaxed atmosphere is for me the highlight of the course.

Each year I can see improvements in my own playing and the course inspires me to practice more in order to be capable of greater things on my next course. Being in such close contact with amazing players and getting to know them on a human level makes improvement seem much more achievable. There are few opportunities to do this outside of ConCorda and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity.

This year was the most challenging for me in terms of the pieces I worked on. However, one thing that I have learned in ConCorda is that being a member of a quartet allows players to support one another and I feel I can achieve much more than I could on my own. In my experience, while tutors of individual playing place a stronger emphasis on technical areas, the tutors in ConCorda concentrate on expression and showing how to convey a love of music through our playing. The ConCorda orchestra also offers the opportunity for everyone on the course to work together and share their talents and is, I feel, an important part of the course.

Extra-curricular activities are also important, and this year’s Talent Show and Fashion Show were a welcome addition to the ConCorda quiz, for which I spend all year training, in the hope that one of these years I’ll win the competition for the lowest female voice! In addition there is musical theatre, which offers everyone the opportunity to be more creative in exploring their instruments and improvising, to put together what is always an entertaining show. The show this year also concluded with the debut performance of our very talented ConCorda gospel choir!

No summer is complete for me anymore without a trip to ConCorda, and I intend to continue attending the course for as long as I can. Meanwhile, the friendships I have developed with everyone on the course keeps me connected with the ConCorda family throughout the year. Looking forward to seeing everyone again next year!

Aoife O’Callaghan (2011)


It’s no easy task putting into words my first experience of Concorda. Inspirational, entertaining, educational, eye-opening and exciting; all words which are definitely apt in summarising various aspects of the course. However, aged 24, the main feeling I experienced over the last 9 days was regret. Regret that this was only my first time attending the course.

Despite it’s long hours, and 9 day duration, my time at Concorda was over in a flash – too soon. And judging by comments posted by others (on a popular social networking site), I wasn’t alone in my sentiments. ‘The most amazing week of music playing in my life… The best week I’ve had this year…” were echoed throughout many of the personal pages of the young players on the course.

I remember one night speaking to a violin player who had reached his tenth year on the course. I asked him what it was that kept him returning year-on-year. He simply said that each August he looked forward to the musical pilgrimage and retreat that is Concorda – forgetting everything that was going on in the outside world, and focusing solely on getting to grips with a renowned chamber piece, in great company.

It goes without saying that for me too, there was something a little bit special about my time spent at Concorda. Maybe it was the world class tutors whom we received guidance from 3 hours each day. Or maybe it was the talent shows, fashion competitions, musical quizzes that kept us entertained in the evenings. Or perhaps it was the hours spent sight-reading among friends – inspired by the musicality around us.

Looking back, it is clear to me that ‘Concorda’ conquers in more than just name. Concorda, is a musical journey – challenging, but deeply rewarding. And I challenge anyone considering partaking, to jump at the chance. You won’t regret it.

Michael Carey (2011)


I have been attending ConCorda Chamber Music course since 2007, and as recently as August this year of 2010. As a violinist, ConCorda has definitely been the best music course I have attended. First of all the great tutoring you get from the amazing musicians is invaluable and helps me no end with my playing. The helpful atmosphere which the course creates allows the students to ask the tutors for help whenever they need and they are always on hand.

There is always just the right balance between rehearsals and free time in which to practice or just take a break from playing which is just as important. The course is always structured to suit every type of player and offers all the different players the opportunities and challenges to meet their needs.

Down through the years there have always been music courses for orchestras and ensembles, some of which I have been lucky to attend. Yet ConCorda offers the chance to engage in chamber music to the same degree. Until ConCorda I had never experienced chamber music before and I absolutely loved it and still do because of the course.

I plan on attending the course if I can for many years to come as it is such a fun, enjoyable and helpful course. I have improved immensely from playing at ConCorda and also made some excellent friends both of which are testament to why I believe it should continue for many years to come.

Kieran Gleeson (2010)


I first came to ConCorda four years ago and was quickly adopted into the family. Before I came, I thought it was going to be yet another music course but I cannot even begin to express how wrong I was. Everything wasn’t about playing music, it was about the love we all share for the music. I found myself being drawn into this world where everyone was on the same level. We all learned so much from our tutors and their experiences, many of these we learned from our founder, the most hilarious and honourable man I’ve ever met, Mr Hugh Maguire.

I came back the next year, and again, and again, and although people come and go and tutors and staff come and go, the spirit remains the same. The inspirations, the memories, the ups, never any downs, they remain the same, if not better every year I come. And I’m proud to say that this place almost feels like a second home.

Concorda doesn’t just concentrate on music from a certain period, we improvise and add our own personal twist to it in a class which we look forward to everyday. Musical Theatre, ‘’Goggs’’, as we band camps kids like to call it. For me, to be able to create a wordless play using only your instrument to convey emotions and drama is mesmerising, and I feel very grateful to be given such a great opportunity

This course is truly one of its kind. The people you meet here and experiences and memories you share with them, whether it be the excitement of a Cork v Dublin semi final or precious moments with friends outside the Castalia hall. These memories will stay with me for a very long time. And in the words of a fellow course member ‘How long?… Tooo Long!’

I’m honoured to have the chance to come back here every year. To live and learn the music which brings us all together. And I am very happy to be part of the Concorda family.

Meadhbh Lynch (2010)


I have just returned from my fourth consecutive Concorda course. Each one has been the highlight of my summer. For eight days in the middle of August, 50-60 young musicians from all around Ireland are in fantastic form, happy and eager to learn new music while twenty or so staff (professional musicians) encourage these students and are helpful and kind.

For me, the best part of Concorda is being exposed to playing wonderfully intimate chamber music with peers of such high standards. I attend lessons and orchestras during the year but I can honestly say that my music skills improve immensely in comparison to the rest of the year.

The staff members come from all four corners of the globe – from Australia, France, England, Italy, Russia, America and, of course, Ireland. They are not only ridiculously nice but they also inspire us with their musicianship and enchant us when they play. They really are my heroes!

The funny thing is, only in the last two years have I become aware of the amount of work involved in organising such a happy and successful course. They work so hard to coordinate such fascinating extra curricular activities as Noel Burke’s bow-making class, yoga, sport, Marc Danel’s masterclass and the famous Concorda table quiz.

Set in the sunny South-East of Ireland with terrific facilities provided by Kilkenny College, it is the perfect environment to make friends. Friends for life, not just my age but ranging from a 13 year old cellist to an 83 year old world renowned violinist! There are no social boundaries between students and staff. All share a love of life and music.

Young musicians develop and mature at Concorda while some others become more immature! (especially when involved in music theatre!). Music theatre is something very special and unique and I believe is an inherent part of Concorda. People break out, break free and really develop into better musicians when encouraged by the music theatre tutors. I found theatre encouraged me to be more open and confident which enabled great friendships to blossom!

Concorda is not just a course – it is something much more. It is an atmosphere, an expression, it is eight days full of love, care and amazing musicianship. It is a home away from home where lovers of music are always welcome. Even though the “course” lasts only eight days, it will last forever inside each and every one of us that have been fortunate enough to attend.

Vincent Hurley (2009)


ConCorda for me is something special. I have been doing it for many years and there are many reasons why I keep on coming back. ConCorda provides the opportunity to play chamber music in an environment that is free from competition. Players of different standards are mixed together in groups to enjoy the music they are playing and to learn from each other. Something that I took from the course was the realisation that playing to the best of your abilities for enjoyment and for the others in the quartet, whether they are of a higher or lower standard musically, makes them play their best for you which results in everyone enjoying themselves (hopefully including the audience).

An incredible teaching staff is assembled every year to tutor the quartets, quintets, sextets etc. This year we had seven members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the members of the Elias String Quartet and violinist Marc Danel tutoring, to name just a few. The High quality of teaching coupled with the atmosphere creates something that is truly unique. This year saw a wide range of countries represented by both staff and students including France, Scotland, England, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Sweden and of course Ireland. Visiting students from France, Sweden and Italy added something new, musically and socially to this year’s course.

Social events such as the quiz night, trad session, cinema screening, ConCorda Olympics which have become tradition over the years, brought everybody on the course, staff and students alike, together in what anybody who has experienced the course would describe as a big family.

The course ended with two public concerts, however I feel that while the week’s work is spent in preparation for the concerts that is not the goal of the course. The goal is something special. In an email I received from the Italian Student, Valentina, after the course she thanked everyone for helping her to rediscover “the real meaning of music and playing together”. That for me is what ConCorda is all about.

Colm Ó Braoin (2008)