Music City: Londonderry hosts day-long celebration of musical culture

  • 21 June 2013
Hundreds of people watched the sun rise from the ancient Grianan fort in County Donegal
In Londonderry, it's Music City Day, when all of Derry becomes a stage from dawn until dawn as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations
The Sky Orchestra
Derry awoke at 7am to the sounds of the Sky Orchestra, a specially composed piece of music streaming from seven hot air balloons floating high above the city (Picture by Gavan Connolly, courtesy of Culture Company)
The balloons floatpast the Foyle Bridge
The balloons floated past all the city's landmarks, including the Foyle Bridge
At one point, the balloons skimmed low over the River Foyle
At one point, the balloons skimmed low over the River Foyle
They then floated high over Ebrington Square - the focal point of Derry's UK City of Culture celebrations - before coming to land near Eglinton
They then floated high over Ebrington Square - the focal point of Derry's UK City of Culture celebrations - before coming to land near Eglinton
Shopping Tea Dance live in the newly-refurbished Guildhall.
The BBC are broadcasting from Music City events until midnight. On Friday morning, Sean Coyle treated listeners to a unique Shopping Tea Dance live from the newly-refurbished Guildhall
Sewing Machine Orchestra
Another highlight is the Sewing Machine Orchestra in the former Shirt Factory in Patrick Street, Derry. Quebec composer Martin Messier gives old Singer sewing machines a musical makeover to create a unique musical experience
Crowds packed the Guildhall Square for a mass rendition of 'Danny Boy' led by the Codetta Choir and the pupils of St Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn
Crowds packed the Guildhall Square for a mass rendition of 'Danny Boy' led by the Codetta Choir and the pupils of St Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn
BBC Radio Ulster's Hugo Duncan and singer Dominic Kirwan at Guildhall Square for Music City
BBC Radio Ulster's Hugo Duncan and singer Dominic Kirwan at Guildhall Square for Music City
BBC Radio Foyle's Eve Blair, left, with singers Eildh Patterson and Bronagh Gallagher
BBC Radio Foyle's Eve Blair, left, with singers Eildh Patterson and Bronagh Gallagher at the first broadcast from BBC Radio Foyle's Ebrington studios on Music City! day
Bridgin Sharkey, Urusla Clifford, Brian McDermott and Rosemary Deeney
Bridgin Sharkey, Urusla Clifford, Brian McDermott and Rosemary Deeney enjoy Sean Coyle's Shopping Dance in the Guildhall for BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle at Music City! Day
Traditional musicians
A taste of the Fleadh?

A unique day-long celebration of music is under way in Londonderry.

Music City is one of the biggest events in the UK City of Culture programme.

Concerts, festivals and performances are taking place from dawn on Friday until dawn on Saturday.

The celebrations began with a dawn chorus at an ancient stone fort in County Donegal, and were followed by the Sky Orchestra - seven hot air balloons that played music as they floated above the city.

The BBC's Conor McKay watched the sun rise from Grianan fort.

"Hundreds of people were there, and regardless of your beliefs or philosophy, just to stand on that ancient site with so much history below your feet and think about the people who might have welcomed the summer solstice... it was a very special occasion.

"The music was reverberating around the stone walls and we were blessed, because the sun just burst through the clouds at the right moment and everybody rushed through the narrow stone entrance to get the photos.

"It was really beautiful."

The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, was also at the early-morning performance.

"It was absolutely amazing to be at our beloved Grianan of Aileach at four o'clock this morning with hundreds of other people from Derry and County Donegal.

"It was absolutely fantastic, a really memorable morning with a beautiful sunrise," he said.

The Chief Executive of the Culture Company, Shona McCarthy, was a passenger in one of the Sky Orchestra hot air balloons.

"I was in the most colourful balloon, and I was with the mayor, and we were just looking out over the city.

"People were coming out of their homes in their dressing gowns and their slippers and waving up.

"We were sending the dogs crazy, I think it was a dogs chorus as well as a dawn chorus - it was just absolutely wonderful," she said.

Other highlights of Music City include a mass recording of Danny Boy, an orchestra made from old sewing machines, and a taster of Fleadh Cheoil na h√Čireann, a festival of traditional music that will take place in Derry in August.

"We've got the Neil Cowley Trio in St Augustine's Church, we've got the amazing Buena Vista Social Club in the Venue tonight, there are stages all over the city, there are kids performing, there are buskers," said Ms McCarthy.

"It's just going to be a wow day. Don't stay indoors!"

The BBC will be broadcasting from Music City throughout the day - full details are available on the BBC Radio Ulster website.

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