We are absolutely delighted and excited to welcome Carrick native Sarah Richmond to sing a mezzo-soprano solo in the world premier of the Opening Doors Performance in the McNeil Theatre in Larne on 9th March. Sarah has been working closely with other local performers, the Whitehead Orchestra, Island Voices, Music Yard Larne and members of the Inter-Ethnic forum as part of the Opening Doors project.

We caught up with her between rehearsals. 

Tell it was like growing up in the local music community and how you got started singing

As soon as I could talk I was singing Sinatra, Dean Martin and Disney. At Woodlawn Primary School, in Carrickfergus, I sang every role of 'The Phantom of the Opera' on repeat. There the wonderful Mrs Cross encouraged me to enter Carrickfergus Music Festival where I got my first taste of performing for more than just friends and family. At Carrickfergus Grammar School I met the brilliant Mr Lynas who taught me to be myself through music. He was certain I had the potential to succeed as a musician and encouraged me to study piano as well. His successor, Mr Craig, provided me with the invaluable experience of performing with Grosvenor and various performance trips with the school choirs. The local area is lucky to have such expertise; he continues to foster opportunities for choral music to thrive. I sang a vast variety of solos throughout Northern Ireland until at Ballymena Music Festival I took the title Northern Ireland Singer of the Year 2009. I graduated from Queen's University of Belfast with a First Class Honours Bachelor of Music degree the same year. Singing at weddings and various public and private events continued, including a stint training in Soriano Nel Cimino, Italy. So when I look back at my musical history, I'm proud of the local support I received.

What is the Opening Doors piece all about?

Opening Doors is a wonderful celebration of local community and uniting neighbouring areas. It doesn't shy away from struggles like shops closing and unemployment, but takes the stories from local people and concludes with a special message of hope.

What should people listen out for on the night of the performance?

Talented composer Sarah Murphy has infused the work with subtle nuances of rhythms from local folk songs and humour. There is a really touching section remembering the dancing at the Rinka - keep an ear out for a beautiful, ghostly waltz. In terms of the text, listen out for all the many references to local areas. As a Carrickfergus woman, I have to say my favourite detail is how Sarah has woven the folk song 'Carrickfergus' in, see if you can spot it!

What has been the best part about working on Opening Doors?

For me the best part of the project has been having such a variety of local people welcome me with open arms. Some of the orchestra I've worked with on other projects so it's great to unite once again in local areas on music so close to our hearts. Serious work has went in to do Sarah's music justice, but we have laughed a lot during the process and enjoyed our time together.


The Opening Doors Performance takes place on Saturday 9th March at 7.30pm in the MacNeill Theatre Larne.

Join us for a celebration of new music and song written by composer Sarah Murphy, poet Colin Hassard and others, inspired by material gathered over the past year from people across Ballymena, Carrick and Larne. The evening will be full of local flavour with references to Slemish, the Rhinka and the Black Arch and feature The Whitehead Community Orchestra, Island Voices Community Choir (with members of Larne Concert Choir), Music Yard Larne, soloists Sarah Richmond and Steven Irwin and members of the Ballymena Inter-Ethnic Forum.  

Admission is Free. Tickets are available from Larne Visitor Information Centre on 028 2826 2495 or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/larnearts. Donations accepted in support of local performing groups