Mark Duley was born in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and studied at Auckland University, the North German Organ Academy and Amsterdam’s Sweelinck Conservatorium, where he was an organ pupil of Jacques van Oortmerssen.
Mark came to Ireland in 1992 and has held several major posts in the country, including organist and director of music at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, chorusmaster to the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and artistic director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra. As conductor and organist he has appeared with most of the major Irish ensembles, including RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the National Chamber Choir, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Opera Theatre Company, Orchestra of St Cecilia, and his own chamber choir Resurgam. He has performed at many of Ireland’s premiere festivals, including the Wexford Opera Festival, the Cork International Choral Festival, the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the East Cork Early Music Festival and the Killaloe Chamber Music Festival. He has given organ recitals in all the major Irish venues as well as in the UK and his native New Zealand.
Mark is one of Ireland’s most well-known choral specialists, and has led workshops and masterclasses for choirs and conductors in Ireland, the UK, and continental Europe. Aside from a busy freelance career, Mark holds the posts of Pipeworks artistic director, organist of the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, Galway, founder-director of St Nicholas Schola Cantorum, and artistic director of Resurgam.
Cherry Hartshorn is a BABS (British Association of Barbershop Singers) Singing Judge, Music Services Team Leader for IABS (Irish Association of Barbershop Singers) and Musical Director of Ireland Unlimited and lives in beautiful West Cork. She first heard barbershop close harmony singing in Birmingham in 1985 and was amazed at the full rich sound which is so characteristic of the style. That first experience inspired her to set up Coventry Ladies Barbershop Harmony Chorus and later Coventry Men’s Barbershop Harmony Chorus. In 1996, she was awarded a BABS scholarship to study directing in USA and from that time onwards has served on the faculty of many Harmony and Directors Colleges.
She came to Ireland 18 years ago and founded Ireland Unlimited, an award winning national ladies barbershop chorus who have represented Ireland in Spain, Holland and UK. Sherry is delighted to serve on Irish Association Barbershop Singers Executive who work hard to encourage and develop this very particular art form. She has had the privilege to perform and compete many times at Sligo Choral Festival and it is with great delight that she returns in 2017 as an Adjudicator.
Charles O’ Connor
Charles O’Connor, a native of Sligo, has been organist and director of music at Sligo Cathedral since 2001. He has a background in both classical and Irish traditional music. Charles started playing the organ in the cathedral at the age of 12. He subsequently gained a BA in Music and Irish and a Bachelor of Music degree from UCD. He also studied organ with Professor David Lee and piano with Anthony Glavin at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and holds a Masters Degree in Organ Performance and Musicology from NUI, Maynooth. He is an Associate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music and a Licentiate of Trinity College London.
Charles was awarded numerous scholarships for organ including the Vandeleur and Marchant scholarships at the RIAM. He was also awarded the Dunleath Organ Scholarship, a cross-border scholarship for young organists. He won the Senior Organ competition at the Dublin Feis Ceoil in 1999. He has attended masterclasses with renowned international organists, Ben Van Oosten, Joan Lippencott, Thomas Trotter and David Briggs to name but a few. Charles has given organ recitals at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, Pembroke College Oxford, St. Lorenz Basilica, Germany and elsewhere. He has also played during choral vespers at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
As director of Sligo Cathedral Choir he has composed and arranged music, including for the recent broadcast of Mass on RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta on the occasion of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Under his direction, Sligo Cathedral choir with a membership of around forty choristers continues a long tradition of choral singing in the cathedral and is going from strength to strength with members from all age groups. The choir endeavours to provide a high standard of sacred music for cathedral liturgies from Gregorian chant through 16th century polyphony to music by contemporary composers. The choir have broadcast on radio both local and national and have recorded with Liam Lawton on his album ‘Courage can cry’.
Charles was head of Music at St. Joseph of Cluny Secondary School, Killiney for seven years and currently teaches Music and Irish at Coláiste Muire, Ballymote. He has formed and directed a number of school choirs and, under his directorship the St. Joseph of Cluny Secondary School choir from Dublin were the top secondary school nationally in the RTÉ Lyric fm Choir for Christmas competition. The St. Joseph Cluny choirs have also performed at Áras an Uachtaráin on two occasions and at the National Concert Hall under his direction. Charles has been musical director and chorus master for numerous highly successful school musical productions.
Charles also has a keen interest in Irish traditional music. He has travelled abroad with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann on numerous occasions and was All-Ireland champion on both piano and piano accordion. He is currently pianist with the Innisfree Céilí Band, All-Ireland Senior Céilí Band champions, 2008. He collaborated recently for two concerts with Uilleann pipers Pádraig McGovern and Brian McNamara at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Sligo.