Newry Musical Feis
1146. Alma Brown
Alma Brown, aged 93, from Newry, County Down, has been the driving force behind the ‘Newry Musical Feis’, the second largest festival of music, dance and speech in the world, for over 50 years.
Alma, the President of the ‘Feis’, first got involved with the festival in 1961 based on her passion as a pianist and violinist, and has supported the development of the festival ever since, continuing to encourage young people across Northern Ireland to participate and use performing arts as a means to build confidence and creative skills. She has gained grant support from Newry, Mourne and Down County Council to fund the festival, which includes the provision of bursaries and specialist workshops to support the development of young performers. This year’s ‘Feis’ is taking place over 45 days, supported by over 60 volunteers, and receiving over 14,000 performance entries.
In a personal letter to Alma, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The continuing success of the ‘Newry Musical Feis’ is testament to your long-standing dedication to supporting your local community and enabling young people to flourish through the performing arts. I wish you every success with this year’s event.”
“I am pleased to receive this award not so much for myself but for all the Section Secretaries, Committee members and other volunteers without whom ‘Newry Musical Feis’ would not be celebrating its 91st anniversary in 2019. Our festival of Music, Dance and Speech includes performances in Irish Traditional Music and Dance, and I am delighted that it has grown to become the largest Festival of its kind in the UK with over 14,000 performances each year.
“Over the years it has been gratifying to follow the successful careers of many of our talented young performers. One of my biggest joys was to introduce, for the first time in a Festival, a performance class for children with special needs. It remains a source of great pleasure to meet people who participated in the events at the Feis, and to make contact with the many friends I have made from other Festivals throughout these islands.”
Pictured below: Alma with her award