The Galway Gospel Choir was founded in 2001 by two young friends with a love of singing and choral harmonies. Anne-Michel Durham had recently graduated with studies in Choral Conducting and Vocal Music Education, and Tomás Burke was studying to become a doctor and possessed incredible organizational and planning skills. Together they felt classical music was well represented in Galway’s active choral community but saw an opening for a contemporary ensemble in the form of a Gospel Choir.
From a humble beginning, a small advertisement was placed in a local paper announcing the first rehearsal, Anne-Michel and Tomas were positively amazed at the response. In a few short months over 200 singers and interested people attended rehearsals. Most came to sing, but some came just to listen. Almost all of the songs were arranged and written by Anne-Michel, and all harmonies were taught by ear. There was no previous musical experience or knowledge required to join the choir, only a love of music. “Can’t sing? … We’ll teach you!” was the motto. This motto was enthusiastically met by loads of local singers, many of whom had never sung before joining the choir. Throughout its time the choir has helped literally hundreds of people to find their voice in an open and supportive environment.
The choir had plenty of start-up troubles however! In the early days the group was homeless and had rely on the kindness of Galwegians to offer rehearsal venues for the growing ensemble. The choir began in the Bank of Ireland theatre at NUIG and rehearsed in various locations including the City Library! Eventually the Gospel Choir found a home and settled into a routine.
Over the years the Galway Gospel Choir has matured, and due to higher expectations of performance and more demanding musical literature has become a highly dedicated community of over 60 singers. The choir contains many original members, some of whom even remember reading the advertisement in the paper! Although the choir has changed from it’s early days, the original ethos remains as a community of singers joined together in harmony and friendship.
Everyone involved with the Galway Gospel Choir does so on a volunteer basis, and through the years the choir has raised over €10,000 for local charities such as COPE, Fairgreen Men’s Shelter, Access Music Project, Simon Community, and the Kilcornan Center.
The Galway Gospel Choir actively tours and performs both nationally and internationally.