6 June 2014, The Priests in Ballymena - Fr David's Blog #2
Hello everyone. Fr David here. On 6th June The Priests gave a benefit concert in St Patrick's Church in my home town Ballymena in aid of a Habitat for Humanity team travelling to Ethiopia this summer. I thought I'd offer a personal review for the benefit of all friends and supporters of The Priests who visit this website.
The event, organised by Ballymena Borough Church Members Forum, was the result of the persistence and perseverance of Cullybackey woman, Wendy Morton, a member of the Forum. Two and a half years in the planning, the event turned out to be a great success and a night to remember.
Everything was exceptionally well organised. The beautiful old church has five columns on each side of the central nave which would obstruct the view of audience members. TV screens had been set up at intervals on both sides so that everyone would be able to see the action on stage.
The church was tastefully adorned with flowers and foliage. The stone tracery of the large stained glass window behind the altar was enhanced with beautiful lighting effects. Behind the scenes in the green room, every comfort was provided for us in the form of tea and coffee and Wendy's fantastic home baked tray bakes as well as fresh fruit. After a short rehearsal with Ruth McGinley, our accompanist, we were brought to the Adair Arms Hotel for a very pleasant dinner.
Arriving back at the church around 7pm we were pleased to observe the impressive queue of concert goers stretching all the way round the church.
The start of the concert was delayed by about 15 minutes as organisers worked hard to get everyone seated. All tickets for the 500 capacity venue were sold bar some 15 which were snapped up by last minute walk-ups. Indeed, the church capacity was exceeded last night as people already seated were being asked to squeeze up to make room for more.
The audience made up mainly of people from the town and surrounding area welcomed us with warm applause, made all the warmer due to the fact that Ballymena is my home town and the townspeople were particularly keen to acknowledge one of their own. My mother, godmother, aunt (Sr Enda) and my sister Fiona who attended the concert were thrilled and understandably very proud.
Frs Eugene and Martin while asserting their Derry/Londonderry/ Legendary origins were keen to establish their own personal connections with the town stretching back to our school days in the 1970s when we competed each year in the Ballymena Musical Festival and came away, as Fr Eugene rather modestly said, 'with a few medals'. He also reminded us privately backstage how as schoolboys we were treated after the festival to a Knickerbocker Glory in the Wimpy Cafe across the road.
The Priests' set list was punctuated by delightful and sensitively nuanced piano solos by award-winning concert pianist and accompanist Ruth McGinley who has often accompanied us in the past and will be with us again later in the year. She is always a great addition to our line up!
The head mics which we normally use at our concerts weren't functioning too well on this occasion and so we used hand held radio mics instead, which worked well for us. Thanks to sound technician Brian Boyle and his assistant Sean for their expertise in sound and light.
This concert was notable for various reasons, not least because we made our country music debut with 'Love Can Build A Bridge', a song by the Judd's, which we sang towards the end of the first half to a very enthusiastic reception, so enthusiastic in fact, that we decided to add it as a second encore after Irish Blessing and to finish the night with that.
Well, you should have been there to see it: the entire audience standing, linking hands with one another across the aisle and singing and swaying to "Love can build a bridge". The Priests and Ruth and the Ballymena audience rocked St Patrick's!
This song will be an excellent addition to our repertoire. We just need to learn a few line-dancing moves now and the Priests' transition from classical to country will be complete. :-)) I expect it will go down a treat at our forthcoming concert in Cushendall on 1st August 2014. Check out the details for that concert elsewhere on this site.
All in all, it was a great success and Wendy Morton was thrilled, as were we. Some of our faithful fans who had travelled across from England (Margaret, Suzanne and Jackie) as well as some local supporters who have seen us in concert many times commented that they thought this was our best concert ever. Certainly there was a great atmosphere and people seemed to go home happy. Mission accomplished!
The concert will have raised some very welcome funds to support the Habitat for Humanity team going out to build homes in Ethiopia this Summer.
At the end of the concert as I introduced the final song, I commented, "in the future I will look back on this night as the 'Love can Build A Bridge Concert' not just because The Priests sang that song here for the first time, but because of all the bridges that were built tonight by love.
“The Habitat for Humanity team are building a bridge of love between the people of Ballymena and a community in Ethiopia. And the Ballymena Borough Church Members Forum are building bridges here and now in our own Community in Ballymena.
“Ballymena is known as 'The City of the Seven Towers' which are a symbol of our civic pride. Wouldn't it to be wonderful if in the future we might become known as the City of a Thousand Bridges - built by love? Keep on loving, folks, and keep on building Bridges."
"Love can build a bridge between your heart and mine. Love can build a bridge Don't you think it's time? Don't you think it's time?"
It was the star that had attracted them and had focused their attention, so much so that the wise men sacrificed much and placed themselves in danger.
However the quest was all embracing and their efforts greatly rewarded. It was at Bethlehem that they came face to face with THE Light of lights and their hearts were transformed and enlightened. Their lives would not be the same, their kingdoms would be changed and they travelled a new road.
This sacred encounter was a real Epiphany, an awakening of a difference, which could be a possibility for us too, all we have to do is respond to His Light, He is waiting!!!