Waterford City & County Council's Arts resource site
Friday October 18, 20.00 – Large Room, City Hall, Waterford
Singing and voice production were the main teaching subjects, according to her name plate, of renowned Waterford music teacher Elizabeth Downey. Born in London in 1895, she was to be the youngest daughter of the Irish literary publisher and writer, historian and journalist Edmund Downey (1856-1937). In 1906 the family moved back to Ireland, where her father bought The Waterford News and The Evening News, the daily newspapers of which he would be managing director and editor till his death.
Elizabeth, after graduating from the Royal College of Music London as pianist and mezzo-soprano, set up a teaching practice for private pupils in Newtown, Waterford and taught music at the local Ursuline School. Training young singers to compete in annual Feis Ceoil, she achieved a high level of success, with several pupils as prize winner each year. As a teacher in Voice Production she instructed many members of the local clergy in the proper use of their voice in their public ministry.
At many concerts all over the country, she also performed herself as a mezzo soprano, and she was a frequent guest performer on Radio Eireann.
As classical music correspondent she contributed frequently to her father’s newspaper The Waterford News.
Her passion for quality classical music drove her to become one of the four founding members of the Waterford Music Club. In her house in Waterford’s Newtown, in the summer of 1942, the inaugural committee meeting took place, with the other founding members Ida Starkie-O’Reilly, William F Watt and T F H Bayly. Nowadays, 72 years later, the (inter)national chamber music concert society, renamed as Waterford~Music, is still going strong, after having presented over 570 concerts, mainly in the Large Room.
There and in all her other musical activities she always insisted on the highest professional standards, standards which she herself nourished by continuing to take courses at the RCM in London each summer, the war years excepted.
In 1965, after many years of persuasion, she agreed at an advanced age, to move to Dublin to teach singing at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She rapidly built up a substantial number of pupils. Unfortunately, she was killed in a road accident in 1967, before her work as a model music teacher had gained the national recognition it merits.
On Friday 18 October next, during the Imagine Arts Festival and supported by the Downey family, Waterford Music will commemorate Elizabeth Downey, this great Waterford music teacher.
BRIDGET KNOWLES (mezzo soprano) and MALCOLM PROUD (piano) will present a special song and lieder recital with WAGNER’s ‘Wesendonck Lieder’, POULENC’s ‘La Courte Paille’ (settings of children’s poems by Maurice Carème), followed by classic and romantic songs by PURCELL, MOZART, SCHUBERT and ELGAR.
Friday 18 October 2013 @8pm, Large Room, City Hall, Waterford
Door tickets: €18/€5 (students). Good value Season ticket available at the door. All tickets include free interval soft drinks. www.waterford-music.com