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Feis Ceoil gives ‘validation’ to young musicians after year without performing

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When Lauren Scully from Dublin graduated from her Masters in Music Performance in 2018, she almost immediately walked into a steady stream of opera work.

A trained soprano, Scully secured a role in Lyric Opera Ireland’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, followed by chorus performances in Aida and Carmen with the Irish National Opera at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

The 30-year-old musician had just completed the Carmen run, and was preparing applications for artists’ programmes abroad and international singing competitions when the pandemic hit.

“Everything just collapsed. On top of that we were being told we weren’t essential, that our work as musicians was not essential. For people like me who have spent years training and working on your craft every single day, it’s really hard to suddenly be told you’re not needed, you’re not important.

“We were told we should upskill, try something else. Even that word ‘upskill’ feels like an insult to someone who had spent so long training in what we do.”

As the pandemic continued Ireland’s music community banded together, finding innovative and new ways to continue making art. Scully resumed her singing lessons with her teacher over Zoom, and used the extra time to develop her musical skills.

Last week Scully performed as a chorus member in Irish National Opera’s livestream of La Boheme, and this week she is taking part in the annual Feis Ceoil. She joins 1,500 other young musicians who, for the first time, will not be attending the Feis at Dublin’s RDS in person but instead are submitting videos of their performances.

A whole new technical infrastructure had to be built when Feis organisers finally made the decision to move the competition online rather than cancelling it for a second year running, says CEO Laura Gilsenan. The result is a two-week-long event featuring 136 competitions, with participants aged between 10-30 submitting videos for assessment by a panel of international adjudicators.

Taking part in the competition gives a sense of “validation” to the many young musicians who were just starting out on their careers when the pandemic hit and have been unable to perform or play with others over the past 12 months, says Gilsenan.

“The Feis is always an anchor in Irish musicians’ calendar year, but this time I think psychologically it will really help people that we’re here. It gives people a sense that things will get back to normal.”

Many of these young professionals also rely on the financial support of the Feis prize funds which range between €200 and €4,000, while some will hope to qualify for the €15,000 RDA bursary, says Gilsenan.

Focus

She says The Feis, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, is equally important for younger participants who are still in school but love to play music.

“It’s important for younger people to have a focus and something to work towards. The Feis has that added performance level, that heightens motivation.”

Scully has submitted videos for three competitions, and says preparation for the competition has given her real “focus”.

“It’s given me repertoire to learn, technical things to work through. If you’ve gone through the conservatory performance experience the Feis is a big part of that education. It’s almost a comfort, it’s part of your performance and your growth.”

Scully is trying to stay positive about the coming months, and says the past year has given her time to further develop her skills.

“I can’t speak for other singers but I viewed this as a time to real hone my technique, slow down and remember how much I love music. It’s something that sustains me. As human beings none of us will ever get this time again. I know it’s been hugely difficult but in some ways it’s been nice to slow down and recognise what is important.”

The Feis Ceoil runs online from March 15th-26th, 2021. Full details at www.feisceoil.ie



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Liverpool ONE welcomes Tessuti (GB)

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Grosvenor has announced that designer retailer, Tessuti, has opened its new global flagship store at Liverpool ONE, demonstrating the brand’s ongoing vote of confidence in the destination. The new location on Paradise Street follows Tessuti’s consistently strong performance at Liverpool ONE and spans two floors measuring 22,000ft². Boasting Tessuti’s biggest store to date, this is four times the size of the previous Liverpool ONE site. The store interiors have been styled with a subtle nod to classic Italian architecture whilst incorporating state-of-the-art technical features, combining classic design with an industrial-chic colour palette and cutting-edge digital screens. Working with local Liverpudlian digital and production agency Liquid, the new Tessuti store has exclusive instore stills and videos showcasing exciting campaigns; the first of which is rumoured to feature Liverpool stars Stephen Graham, Abbey Clancy, Miles Kane and Chelcee Grimes.

 

Aligning with Liverpool ONE’s community ethos, Tessuti’s new global flagship will also support the vibrant community in the heart of Liverpool, championing local businesses through collaborations, pop-ups, and in-store events.

 

Alison Clegg, Managing Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor, commented: “Tessuti’s commitment to Liverpool ONE, through its relocation within the destination and decision to make the new store its global flagship, strengthens our position as one of Europe’s leading retail and leisure destinations. The impressive growth trajectory of Tessuti within Liverpool is a great indication of the potential for success and expansion of other brands that join Liverpool ONE.”

 

Chris Rowan, Director of Brand & Customer Connection at Tessuti, added: “The opening of our global flagship at Liverpool ONE is a huge moment for us. Liverpool is an urban hub for international fashion retailers, so upsizing and relocating within the city’s leading retail and leisure destination was a natural next step. We feel confident that it is the ideal home for our flagship location, and are excited to offer Liverpool ONE’s visitors our most stylish project yet.”

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What you need to know about having a home swimming pool

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This summer, it’s not just sales of rosé wine and ice cream that have rocketed during the heatwave. Interest in swimming pools has also surged.

‘This sweltering summer has undoubtedly inspired people to install swimming pools,’ says Sallie Leslie-Golding of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association (SPATA). 

‘There are now 270,000 in-ground pools in the UK, with about 65 per cent of them in the southern half of the country.’

There is something incredibly glamorous about a Hockney-blue pool. But how does the reality match up to the imagery?

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

‘It’s been wonderful to be able to take a swim at the end of a long day,’ says Felicity Cooper, 55, who in 2006 installed a 12m x 6m pool outside her country house in Potterne, near Devizes, Wiltshire. 

‘It has also been great for the children, Lily and Ryan, who learnt to swim here.’

Felicity stresses the importance of finding the right setting for a new pool. 

She ensured hers was west-facing to catch the evening sun; then she went to the trouble of digging out a mini-amphitheatre so that the displaced earth formed a windbreak around the pool itself.

‘The pool is the optimum distance from the house, being not so near that it detracts from the garden and not so far away that anyone in trouble would not be heard by those inside.

‘It is far from trees so few leaves blow into the water and, with the children in mind, it has a top quality safety cover. Felicity’s six-bedroom Jacobean stone house standing in 1.7 acres is for sale for £1.95 million.

Opinions vary as to whether an outdoor pool helps or hinders a house sale. Some think that the hassle of maintenance may be off-putting to buyers. However, the property buying agent, Jonathan Harington, disagrees.

‘I have had many clients come to me with a pool on their wishlist of luxuries,’ he says. ‘But I have never had anyone say they wouldn’t buy a house because of the pool. If they felt strongly they could easily fill it in anyway.’

Yet owning a swimming pool is an expensive hobby. An above-ground pool — like a giant paddling pool — costs from £1,500 to £15,000. These pools may not quite cut it in terms of glamour, but their lower water capacity means maintenance costs are more reasonable.

For those looking at a more substantial in-ground pool, one with a liner finish of PVC will cost about £75,000. A concrete pool, finished with mosaic tiles, marbled plaster or paint will be about £125,000.

Larger projects can easily cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

You may opt for an infinity pool — a pool designed with an edge that gives the illusion that the water is overflowing. 

Those who want to improve their fitness may have a counter current device installed; the equivalent of swimming on a treadmill.

Many pool owners are interested in sustainability and heating the pool with solar panels is popular, as are covers that help heat retention.

Maintaining an outdoor swimming pool is expensive. The cost of heating and chemicals has increased so buyers should budget for at least £8 to £10 a day, dependent on the weather, according to SPATA.

Anyone fancying a workout in their own home may be interested in Ivy Cottage, Grendon, Northamptonshire.

Outside, the four-bedroom cottage is a 10m x 5m pool neatly positioned in the north-west corner to catch the sun.

‘After swimming in the pool, you could go running, riding or cycling on the countless trails nearby,’ says Ian Denton, of Jackson Stops. ‘It’s a lifestyle amenity in your own garden.’ Ivy Cottage is for sale for £825,000.

On the market… splash out 

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Radisson launches new resort in Greece

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Radisson Hotel Group has launched its latest Greek resort in Skiathos. Skiathos, the westernmost of the Sporades islands, is known for its stunning coastline of more than 60 beaches with soft sand and clear blue waters, as well as sea caves, impressive rock formations, and hiking trails on the tree-covered hills along the north shore made famous as the location for the filming of Mamma Mia. The island’s Byzantine churches and monasteries, Venetian-style Bourtzi fortress, and Papadiamantis House with its typical architecture are important parts of the island’s rich history.

 

The resort’s 84 rooms and suites are decorated in a modern, minimalist style, and most of them offer views of the hotel pool or the sea. Private balconies or terraces are available in select rooms, and the resort’s biggest suites feature private whirlpools for ultimate privacy and relaxation. The resort is ideally suited for weddings with its own on-site orthodox chapel and versatile outdoor pool area that offers receptions with stunning views. The main all-day dining restaurant celebrates Greek and Mediterranean flavors on its lunch and dinner menus. The poolside bar offers breakfast treats and late-night snacks as well as a wide selection of drinks and an extensive wine list. For guests looking to keep up their fitness routine, a well-equipped gym is available.

 

“We are excited to offer our guests a fantastic resort experience on the beautiful island of Skiathos, as we continue to expand our Greek resort portfolio. Radisson Resort Plaza Skiathos allows guests to switch off and relax surrounded by stunning natural beauty,” said Yilmaz Yildirimlar, Area Senior Vice President at Radisson Hotel Group.

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