Old friends and new beginnings: Archie Simpson passes the conductor’s baton to Ronan de Burca at a special concert with the Lismorahaun Singers in Ennis this Friday.

Archie Simpson with tenor, Peter O'Donohoe, and the Lismorahaun Singers. PIC Lindsey Macadie

This Friday marks a major milestone for the Lismorahaun Singers. After almost 20 years and countless memorable performances, conductor and choir founder, Archie Simpson, will pass the baton. Taking his place will be pianist and long-time member of the Burren
Over the past two decades, Archie Simpson and The Lismorahaun Singers have become virtually synonymous. One and the same, it has become impossible to think of one, without the other immediately coming to mind.
But nothing endures forever. This Friday, Archie Simpson will once again be with his beloved Lismorahauan Singers – but not as their conductor, instead he will join the ranks of singers. Taking his place in front of the chair will be new conductor, Ronan de Burca.
“I had a realisation about this group – which is about 50 or 60 people and has been going for 20 years – if they are going to go on for another 20 years, it can’t be about me,” says Archie.
“Ronan came to be our rehearsal pianist and concert pianist about three years ago. He had already established himself as a man with great talent and a great interest in music and how good music can be for people.
“He has been an incredible help to me over those years. Without doubt, Ronan has a great ability as a musician. He has always been able to sit down and play whatever the choir needed and on top of that there was never a since of him trying to usurp – unless you actually invited opinion on something he would just play and play beautifully. Everyone in the choir got to know him and realise what a good man he is.”
After celebrating his 70th birthday in 2017, Archie realised that the time was right for a change.
“It was this time last year and I said to Ronan, ‘you and I need to have a meeting, here’s the agenda, no pressure’. We had the meeting and the questions I put to him at the end was, ‘do you want to do this?’ I told him that if got as much pleasure out of it as I had, then it would really enrich his life,” says Archie
“He has had a great effect on the choir. I think that the choir has realised that they can go onto the next level. They can go on with a sense of joy and satisfaction that he is able to bring.
“He recognises the uniqueness of the group. He sees that something special is going on with this group. I think that it is the mixture of people from all walks of life that exist in the choir. We are so rich in that respect.”
While Archie has passed on the conductor’s baton, his time with the Lismorahaun Singers is far from over.
“This is a very important concert for our group – it’s the first night in public with Ronan in charge of the Lismorahaun Singers and I’m happily singing away down low with the basses,” says Archie.
“To sing with the group and be one of the boys has been great fun for me. I’m finding it incredibly enriching and very satisfying. I have a different relationship now with my fellow singers and indeed with the whole choir. I’m getting to know the choir from a different perspective, as one of them. I turned 70, I didn’t have to retire but it suits me fine to hand over to Ronan and still be there. I’m getting to have my cake and eat it. I’m loving it, I really am.”
Soloists Kate Daly, Katie O’Donohue, Peter O’Donohue and Ben Escorcio will join The Lismorahuan Singers for a very special performance this coming Friday, June 15, at St Columba’s Church on Bindon Street in Ennis from 8pm. Tickets are available from The Russell Gallery in New Quay, Jordon’s in Lisdoonvarna and from Mulqueen’s in Ennis.


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