Two young musicians epitomised why Londonderry has been described as ‘the city of post-conflict culture’ when they spoke at an event to highlight the work of the local Bands Forum at St Columb’s Park House on Tuesday.
Mitchell Cruickshank and Harry Taylor spoke on behalf of an ensemble of young musicians after playing to a packed room at the local reconciliation and activity centre as the Londonderry Bands Forum Peace Impact Programme (PIP) was officially launched.
The clear message, which was really underlined through several cross-community and cross-border prejudice-dispelling collaborations during UK City of Culture 2013, was: it’s all about the music.
Mitchell, whose father Geoff is a stalwart of the Pride of the Orange and Blue, Newbuildings, told the audience he had joined the William King Memorial Flute Band last September.
“I joined because I love music. My dad’s in a band as well. I suppose that’s why I wanted to play the flute. My dad plays the flute as well,” he said.
“As well as learning to play music. I’m also interested in the history of marching bands. I read about this from leaflets my dad’s brought home from the Bands Forum and from researching on the internet.
“I think all young members of the flute band should be part of that proud history of marching bands,” he added.
Mitchell was echoed by Harry Taylor, aged 14, who has been playing with the Pride of the Orange and Blue since he was four and with the William King Memorial Flute Band for the past two years as part of its talented players programme.
“With them I get the chance to play in the All-Ireland championships and events such as the Walled City Tattoo,” he told the gathering.
“I use what I learn with the William King and take it back to my own parent band to encourage my friends to improve and help us to get better.
“We are now playing some indoor events and some of my friends also want to join with me at the William King practices to play more challenging music and get the chance to play with brass and pipe bands.
“I’m a representative of the Pride of the Orange and Blue flute band on the Londonderry Bands Forum too as a youth player,” said Harry.
Mitchell and Harry kicked off the event with several other young musicians immersed in local band culture thanks to the Forum.
Led by project coordinator Derek Moore for a rendition of ‘Shanghai Lil’ or ‘Orange Lil’ - a march rendition of the old Irish reel, ‘The Swallow’s Tail’ - were young musicians Jennie Johnston, Leanne Knox, Daniel Taylor, Steven Little, Andy Lynch and Brad Simpson.
Deputy Mayor Gary Middleton said: “I think this is all about education. It’s about getting out there, getting into our schools and educating young people about what this is all about.”