Eoin O’Keefe’s music features during the Irish Marching Band Finals on 13 September

Eoin O’Keefe

The Irish Marching Band Finals take place in Dalymount Park, Dublin, on 13 September run by the IMBA (Irish Marching bands Association).  This contest involves the top marching corps from around the country for the final show of the summer season.  Each group performs a colourful 10 – 12 minute high-paced production on the field, involving brass, woodwinds, on-field percussion, a front ensemble of keyboard and auxiliary percussion and electronics, and a colour guard (a group who combine movement with equipment).

Composer Eoin O’Keeffe has worked as the music arranger for 5 of the groups competing at the weekend – Celtic Crusaders (from Mullingar), Bluehawks (from Clonmel), Inbhear Mor (from Arklow), Vikings (from Tallaght), and TYB Cadets (also from Tallaght).  As well as customised arrangments for each band specifically for their productions, a number of bands commissioned original compositions as part of their shows.  These include Matter of Time (performed by Celtic Crusaders), Enmity (performed by Inbhear Mor), Process (performed by Vikings), and Harvest (performed by TYB Cadets).  Each piece is written to fit the story being told by each group, and in many cases is written very much to a strict storyboard broken down in to short timeframes, similar in many ways to scoring for the screen.  The compositions are generally written specifically to suit the instrumentation, balance and ability of each group.

Eoin O’Keeffe is no stranger to the world of the marching arts.  Growing up, he was a member of his local youth band Banna Chluain Meala in Clonmel (of which the aforementioned Bluehawks are the marching wing), where he played both woodwind and brass, as well as spending some time as conductor and arranger.  In the UK, Eoin also taught a number of groups, including the Black Knights in 2006 during which year they were crowned British Champions, and the Senators in 2007 and 2008 as brass caption supervisor during which time they were crowned European Champions for both years.  As well as in Ireland, Eoin has arranged for and worked with several other groups in the UK, Holland and Italy, and in the USA has worked for System Blue, the education wing of the world champion Blue Devils from California.   He has also been commissioned to write massed band arrangements in Ireland and the UK for the respective marching band organisations.

The finals take place in Dalymount Park, Dublin this Saturday afternoon, 13th September, with performances between 3pm and 5pm, followed by the awards ceremony.  Tickets are available at the gate and cost €5 for adults, and €3 for children.

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