Brian Irvine Opera Wins Award

The acclaimed composer adds to his long list of accolades

With music by Northern Irish composer Brian Irvine, and lyrics by Northern Irish writer and director, John McIlduff, the opera Shelter Me From The Rain has scooped the Best Use of Creativity in the Community Award at the Alllianz Business and Arts Awards.

Ireland’s first opera commissioned by a local authority, Shelter Me From The Rain was commissioned by Carlow Local Authorities.

First produced in Carlow's GB Shaw Theatre in May 2011, Shelter Me From The Rain involved a performance company of over 100 Carlow-based singers, who undertook a year-long training and rehearsal programme led by conductor Fergus Sheil. Over 40 of the 103 singers involved performed solo roles, many taking to the stage for the first time.

The company also included Carlow’s acclaimed youth choir, Aspiro, and performances were given in conjunction with 12 members of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.

The Allianz Business and Arts Awards ceremony was held at Dublin Castle, and the award was presented to Irvine by Irish President, Mary McAleese.

Speaking at the ceremony, Irvine spoke of his fascination with the process of 'unlocking the individual creative energy inside every participant, irrespective of previous musical experience in manner that never compromised artistic ambition and integrity'.

He viewed the award as 'a testament to the validity of individual ability and personality of all the performers involved'.

Shelter Me From The Rain is set against a backdrop of weather forecasting and weather related themes, and involves stories of love lost and gained.

Project curator and music director Sheil described the process as an 'experience of a life-time'. He added that he was 'overwhelmed with support from Carlow Local Authorities arts office, from the executive staff and the elected representatives in Carlow, from County Carlow VEC, the GB Shaw Theatre and many other local supporters.

'Above all, however, it was the dedication and unswerving commitment of participants that made this project a most memorable musical and theatrical experience.'

The project was tracked by a 10-part documentary series made by Athena Media for RTÉ Lyric FM. Podcasts of the radio series are available at

Shelter Me From The Rain was also supported by a project grant from The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.