Galway ensemble fundraises for trip to Carnegie Hall

New York-bound: the Ignite Gospel Choir.

A Galway Gospel Choir has been invited to sing in Carnegie Hall in New York City next year – but to get there, they need to secure notes of the non-musical kind!

Because the IGNITE Gospel Choir have set a target of €33,000 to fund the experience of a lifetime when they participate in a performance of ‘Handel’s Messiah’ for the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) Concert Series in December 2019.

DCINY is the leading producer of dynamically charged musical excellence, with a global community of artists and audiences and empowering educational programs.

Keara McDonald, director and founder of IGNITE Gospel Choir said she is both “delighted and terrified,” about the performance, but that it is a “great honour” to be selected.

IGNITE were scouted online by DCINY and invited to audition.

“It’s not something we looked for,” Keara said, “we’re a community gospel choir.”

They used a clip from their YouTube channel as their audition piece.

Dr Jonathan Griffith, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for DCINY said: “IGNITE Gospel Choir Galway received this invitation because of the quality and level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers.”

“These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community,” he said.

They will join choirs from all over the world, but they are the only choir participating from Ireland on this occasion and the only choir from Galway ever to participate in the annual event.

Keara originally set up IGNITE Gospel Choir because she felt that there was a “gap in the market for people to express themselves through song.”

She has a ‘no audition’ policy because she believes it’s “not about having a great singing ability,” but about “blending” everyone together to create “one voice.”

She described them as a “wonderful, vibrant choir” who have earned over €130,000 for charities and have performed for numerous events.

These include busking in the Christmas Market for an hour and raising €430 for Cancer Care West, performing on Mental Health Day at St. Nicholas’ Church and the Their Lives Matter Ball.

There are 85 people in the choir, with ages ranging from 17 to 76 with a mix of single people, couples, people who participate for fun, healing purposes, to reconnect and for the social aspect, to name a few.

Keara feels that joining the choir helps people with their confidence – not only within the choir but within their personal life too.

A total of 48 people will be travelling to sing in New York in December and Keara said they hope to have everything ready by May. They also hope to perform ‘Handel’s Messiah’ for the people of Galway before they leave.

The choir rehearses every Thursday at 7:30pm in St. Joseph’s Church but according to Dr. Griffith, the singers will spend an additional nine or ten hours rehearsing over their five-day stay in New York.

He himself will lead the performance in New York and he described the event as something that represents “extreme pride for everybody” and is “deserving of the community’s recognition and support.”

“Not all of the time is spent in rehearsals since there is so much history and culture to see in New York City. However, the performance is the primary purpose for their visit to the city,” Dr. Griffith said.

Members of the community are encouraged to give financial support in sending the singers to New York. They have a target of €33,000 and hope to launch the fundraising and donations on their tenth anniversary on October 26.

Keara is asking for the community to sponsor a singer or donate to the choir- “anything the community can do.”

“We always give back and have never asked for anything in return,” she said, but now they are asking the community of Galway to help them in any way they can – by coming to their concerts and events to help raise the money they need to help the choir represent Galway city.

If you wish to donate to sending the Galway choir to New York City, you can do so by contacting Keara at