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Flautist Eimear follows in footsteps of Sir James

By Linda McKee

Promising young flute player Eimear McGeown follows in the footsteps of Ireland's best-known classical star this weekend when she plays a concerto at the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn.

Soloist Eimear will be performing the Flute Concerto in E Minor by Mercadante with the Studio Symphony Orchestra - just as international star Sir James Galway did earlier this year.

Even better, Eimear played the concerto during a masterclass at London's Cadogan Hall with the Belfast-born star only a matter of months ago, during a flute day organised by the British Flute Society.

This Saturday's repertoire also includes the famous Hebrides Overture by Mendelsohn, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart, Symphony No 8 (Unfinished) by Schubert and Russlan and Ludmilla by Glinka, conducted by David Openshaw.

Eimear said she was delighted to be following in the footsteps of Sir James, who performed the piece with the Studio Symphony Orchestra during its birthday celebrations earlier this year. The star agreed to return for the big event because he once played as part of the orchestra's woodwind section before he was famous.

"He had just come back from Belfast and was playing the concerto with the Studio Symphony Orchestra at the Waterfront Hall and I said I'd love to do that and made a joke about it."

Soon afterwards, the orchestra contacted Eimear to play the Lisburn concert and she chose the Mercadante piece because she is performing it in the Cimarosa Flute Competition in Italy next week.

"It's going to be difficult to follow James Galway but it'll be useful for me as I am doing it anyway," Eimear says.

"I am looking forward to it - I love the concerto so much and I'm excited to be playing it with the orchestra."

Eimear found fame last year after winning the Clandeboye Young Musician of the Year contest and has since played numerous times with international pianist Barry Douglas and the Camerata Ireland chamber orchestra. She even performed in the Library of Congress as part of the Rediscover Northern Ireland programme earlier this year.

Eimear is to be reunited with Camerata Ireland in London's Cadogan Hall this December, as well as the Theatre de Champs-Elysees in Paris early next year. She will also be performing with the London Irish Symphony Orchestra at Cadogan Hall in January.

One of her most unusual recent gigs was deputising for the soloist with the London West End's Lord of the Rings where she performed on eight different instruments - the flute, the piccolo, four Irish whistles and two bamboo flutes.

"Because I do a lot of Irish music I was quite lucky with my background, " she said.

"It's quite challenging - I've learned so much from it. It was the scariest thing I've ever done - you don't get a rehearsal and everyone else has been doing it since it opened.

"But it's up my street and there were lots of wee solos."

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