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*Eimear Noonan on the fishing bridge at Lough Graney, Co. Clare taken in July 2017 just months before Eimear died in a tragic accident in France in November 2017. Photograph: Brendan O’Leary

Carpe Diem Sing and Play Virtual Challenge 2020 forms part of an annual concert in Gort to remember Eimear Noonan, who tragically passed away in France in November 2017.

The proceeds of the challenge will divide between The Eimear Noonan Music Bursary and Coole Music. The emphasis is on supporting high quality music education in the west of Ireland. Eimear was a talented musician, tells her mother, Mary Noonan, adding, “She would be smiling. She would love the idea and the variety of it all. Eimear embraced all genres of music. She loved rock, indie, jazz. She was head, neck and heels in that during her time at UCC.”

The concept for the Carpe Diem concerts came from orchestra teacher Katharina Baker and Fiona Buckley of Coole Music and Art, in April 2018. Carpe Diem captured the spirit of Eimear, Mary admits, “She was always trying something new. She was one of the first people in Coole Music when it opened up. She played two or three instruments and specialised in the violin with the UCC Orchestra.”

Following two hugely successful concerts in Gort in 2018 and 2019, this year’s restrictions required a combination of creativity and compromise. Eimear’s brother Michael, who lives in London, came up with the idea of a Carpe Diem Virtual Challenge, resembling the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014. In this way, artists play their piece online and nominate up to five others to take part. Mary describes the response as ‘phenomenal’ and says, “the challenge has snowballed as there hasn’t been any outlet for the music world. It’s almost like a two-week music festival online.”

The Virtual Challenge began on 1st November and will run up until the 15th November 2020. Anyone who wants to participate or has been nominated via social media simply films themselves playing music or singing and posts it online while also nominating three to five others to take up the challenge. The recording can be posted on your own Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account. An online donate facility will be available for viewers and performers alike. Donations will be accepted via the idonate fundraiser page, online up to Saturday 28th November 2020. To date the funds raised have supported the Eimear Noonan Music Awards; Coole Music and Arts; Gort Community School Musical; UCC Orchestra and other music performances by young people in the community.

Finishing up, Mary concludes with some final sentiments, “This year, the theme is, seize the day and go for it. Let’s keep the people happy. We need to lift the spirits of the people in a particularly tough time. Obviously, for our family, this week is a hard week and for the whole country too. We need to realise what a wonderful gift we have in our music community. I feel like they have been quietly forgotten, as they can’t go out to play.”

Check out this year’s participants on the Facebook page ‘Carpe Diem Sing and Play.’

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