Van Morrison to play gig in his old school as it closes doors for last time
School's out for ever. Legendary musician Van Morrison is to bid a fond farewell to the east Belfast school he immortalised in song as it closes its doors for the last time this summer.
Orangefield High School – the name which famously featured on Morrison's Avalon Sunset album and where he went to school – will host the singer-songwriter for a big party to celebrate its cultural significance to the area.
He is to headline two gigs in the school's assembly hall on August 22 and 23 as part of the EastSide Arts Festival.
Tickets for the August 23 concert, priced at £85, are available to the general public, but tickets for the August 22 event is open to Orangefield alumni and former staff. They are priced at the discounted rate of £25 per ticket.
Orangefield deputy headmaster Maurice Johnston told the Belfast Telegraph there was a real buzz about the school after the concert announcements.
"It will be a real celebration of the former school," he said.
"All the staff and former pupils are looking forward to it."
Mr Johnston said he was also keen for the community to know the school won't be left lying empty after its closure.
"The Belfast Board are considering its future use," he said.
World-famous singer songwriter Morrison is part of a long list of well-known former pupils. Others include former hostage Brian Keenan, the late loyalist leader David Ervine and playwright Marie Jones.
Maurice Kinkead, from EastSide Arts, said the entire team was delighted Morrison will perform at the festival.
"We are particularly delighted that he will perform at his old school Orangefield High with a special performance for ex-staff and pupils," he said.
"Mr Morrison's performance will play a central role in our festival which will also feature a range of East Belfast artistic talent, especially well-known Orangefield past pupils – with details to be officially launched in July.
"Orangefield High School played a significant role in East Belfast and at EastSide Arts we believe that this should be celebrated and importantly preserved."
In the lead-up to the festival organisers are keen to create a memory book about the school and would like anyone with special memories of their time at Orangefield to get in touch.
Mr Kinkead added: "We have no doubt we will fill the assembly hall with ex-staff and pupils on August 22 and that we will create a night which will go down in history.
"So if you have any memories you can share please get in touch with us."
The current Orangefield High School was formed in 1990 after the former separate girls' and boys' schools were amalgamated.
Education Minister John O'Dowd announced in January that it would be closing later this year and that its 80 remaining pupils would have to accommodated at other nearby schools.
How to get involved:
- Tickets for past pupils and teachers for the August 22 concert will go on sale at East Belfast Partnership, Newtownards Road, at 9am on June 28 priced at £25. Cash only.
- Tickets for the August 23 performance are £85. See the EastSideArts website.
- If you would like to share memories of the school then contact EastSide Arts on Facebook and Twitter.