Minds often meet over music. Drama likewise, an activity no stranger to music. The Watergate Theatre, opened by President Mary Robinson on April 4, 1993, has now been throwing open a window on different worlds for a scarcely believable 21 years. Last spring, John Grant of Pale Green Ghosts (2013) fame played the Watergate just after Kilkenny had beaten Tipperary in the League Final. It was an unforgettable occasion, twice over. That cup certainly overflowed.
While victory over Tipp cannot be arranged at this point in time, Watergate founder and manager Ger Cody is hosting a concert next Friday week, April 4, as their 21st birthday celebration. St Patrick’s Brass and Reed Band will provide a lunchtime concert between 1 and 2pm. That morning, Sue Nunn will broadcast her KCLR programme live from the theatre between 10am and noon. Minds certainly met over music in Leighlinbridge, back in 2007. John Egan and Pat Holland, stalwarts of St Patrick’s Brass and Reed Band, attended a concert in the town, where they met a man named Norman Cree. A spark was kindled and Norman accepted their invitation to attend a rehearsal the following Thursday night. “It all just happened organically,” Pat Holland relates. He continues: “We’d never had a conductor before in the band. Never. But when Norman offered to conduct we knew it was exactly the right road to take.”
“Actually, taking on a conductor was precisely what we needed to breathe new life into the band. And to get a conductor of Norman’s calibre… Getting him aboard was like the brass band equivalent of winning the Lotto…!” To understand their enthusiasm you must understand Norman Cree’s background. A native of Belfast, and 84 next October, Norman has spent his whole life intimately involved with brass bands. He was raised from an early age in the West Riding of Yorkshire, within a family where musical ability was prized. His appreciation deepened on encountering the school orchestra at Gosforth Grammar School. This orchestra, one of the strongest in the North of England, imprinted possibilities on the young man’s mind.