Waterford Music was conceived on 28 May 1942 at 1 Suir View, Newtown Road, Waterford at a meeting between Elizabeth (Bessie) Downey (singing and voice production teacher), Ida O’Reilly (née Starkie, cellist), William F. Watt (businessman and tenor) and Maurice Bayly (banker and music lover). These four agreed to explore the possibilities of setting up “…some form of musical entity in order to further the interests of Chamber Music etc., to encourage local talent, and to invite well-known professionals from other centres to contribute items”. A public meeting was held in June, a committee was formed, and following six further meetings, Waterford Music’s first concert took place on 17 September 1942 in the Large Room in City Hall. The performers were Charles Lynch (pianist), Maura O’Connor-Tyrrell (mezzo-soprano), Beatrice Penrose (violin), Herman Gebler (viola) and Kitty O’Callaghan (accompanist).
William F. Watt (1893-1973)
Ida Starkie-O’Reilly (1903-1987)
Concerts were held in the Large Room of City Hall until 1948, in nearby school halls in 1949, and then returning to the Large Room which had been converted into the new Municipal Theatre until 1981. Concerts were held in Newtown School until 1988 with Garter Lane Arts Theatre being used from 1988 to 1993.
Mr P.J. Little, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, was elected President and thus it was no coincidence that for many years extracts from the concerts were broadcast on Radio Eireann. William Watt was Chairman from 1942 to 1973, and in 1962 he was presented with the medallion of office to celebrate the twenty-first season of Waterford Music. The medallion, designed by jeweler Horst Kneisel, features the Waterford Coat of Arms.
The Large Room
In 1813 the Corporation bought the lease of the building and the Assembly Rooms became known as the City Hall and the Playhouse as the Theatre Royal. The City Hall is a large two-story building with nine bays and a central breakfront. It faces onto the Mall, which had been laid out in 1735, expanding the city outside the old town walls, parts of which survive at the rear of the building.
The Large Room was refurbished in 1993 and the three Waterford Glass chandeliers were installed at that time. The adjoining Council Chamber serves as our Green Room for the performers. The entrance vestibule and stairway were upgraded when the theatre was restored in 1998.
In the Large Room is the third piano owned by Waterford Music. It is a Hamburg Steinway Model C and was bought (with the welcome support of Waterford Corporation and the Arts Council) for £57,000 in 1996. It is tuned professionally before each concert and is serviced regularly by Ulrich Gerharz of Steinway and Sons, London; Ulrich has been described by The Guardian newspaper as “possibly the single most important figure in the entire piano world, at least to pianists and to concert halls”.
People & Governance
Elizabeth Twohig Chair
Vincent Byrne Honorary Secretary
Eamon Phelan Honorary Treasurer
James F. Walsh
Evelyne O’Riordain (ex oficio)
Funded & Supported by:
A Music Network Partner Promoter