Interview With Ophelia McCabe – Songs From The Quay

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2014-12-11


The Cork Music landscape has had wave after wave of great songwriting, and a new opportunity for those who want to pursue it has emerged via the Cork School Of Music. Ophelia McCabe, one of the class running ‘Songs From The Quay’, spoke with Ronan Leonard, ahead of their second of two concerts in The Oliver Plunkett on Sunday.


Firstly she explained how it’s overall function is to present “a show of new songs by emergent songwriters derived from a Songwriting module on The BA in Popular Music at Cork School Of Music. The module is led by Chris Ahern (who started and runs the Music Management & Sound Course in Colaiste An Stiofain Naofa) who facilitates the students in creating songs.”


The module, like all third level education, is very thorough as Ophelia continued, “the process begins with the technical and structural aspects of songwriting and then progresses through the creation of original songs to actualising the songs on stage, in recordings and for official release.”


As Ophelia went into more detail it becomes clear that performing those songs on stage doesn’t mean they just stroll into a venue to play them at the drop of a hat, “the group are organising and implementing all aspects of these events using skills acquired from the course, it’s about getting hands on training in all areas of the music industry.”


The course has cleared made an impact on Ophelia, “it has been quite literally life-changing for me. I come from a performance background with very little music education. I could never have expected the progressive nature of this degree, Karl Rooney, Fionn Ó Ceallacháin and the other lecturers have an expert working knowledge of the music industry, they cover musicianship but also technology, recording, production and loads more.”

She credits Chris Aherne with helping her develop as a writer, “he provides an environment of encouragement to facilitate the creation of original lyrics and music. He guides us through the sometimes difficult process of disclosure/exposure in order to tell stories with meaning through lyric, song and music. I have spent my career as a hip-hop MC until studying in the Cork School of Music. Chris is helping me to embrace my innate musicality and songwriting ability which is invaluable to me and my future career. I plan to compose, produce and release my original works independently and I hope to lecture in Music in the future.”


Ophelia explained how the concerts will reflect the variety of musicians in the class, “‘Songs From The Quay’ presents songs from a variety of styles, instrumentation and delivery including acoustic to electronic to accapella to full band arrangements. The songs shall be performed by the original songwriters or by singers from within the greater group. The sets  vary nicely from solo to group performances. Most of the songs shall be played by collections of group members, All of the songwriters have a deep passion and knowledge of popular music as is further encouraged by the degree. Some of the musical styles you’ll hear include Soul, Funk, Blues, Disco,  Jazz, Rock, Classical, Hip Hop, Indie, the list doesn’t stop!”


While the stereotype of a singer is to be selfish for the spotlight Ophelia is adamant that, “as we have many first time writers/performers it is very important that all group members are recognised for their artistry considering the effort and the input that the group have given individually. Joe Fahy, Chris Courtney, Joseph Norton, Barry Mangan, Tom Cahalane, Deirdre O Kelly, John Crowley, Patrick Lucy, James McGrath, Carol-Ann Goold, Kevin Walsh, Kala Chung, Daniel Lacey, Billy Whelan, Alan Pentony, Aengus Mac A Bhaird, Rory Power, Ashley Coleman, Gavin O’Sullivan, Naomi Mc Swiney, Jack Crosbie, Clement Ngomo-Katoto and I make up the class, and our shows will comprise of performances of each song chosen to go to stage.”


Another result of third level training in Cork is that it makes it easier for the participants to stay in the city, or at least Ireland, instead of needing to leave afterwards which Ophelia touched on, “the course gives students the opportunity of employment in any aspect of the music industry they wish to pursue. The degree facilitates a personal culture of continuous development and understanding of music. This creates a potential of boundless opportunity. Cork is a creative hub for music-makers and the internet can be used to create a career from any base. I feel the time of having to leave Ireland to ‘make it’ has passed. Anything is possible as long as we believe in ourselves and never give up. Music is such a powerful and necessary art form for the greater world community that it must be nurtured and provided for by society.”


‘Songs From The Quay’ will take place in The Oliver Plunkett at 9pm on Sunday 14 Dec


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