Celebrating Eric John Sweeney

Celebrating Eric John Sweeney

Eric Sweeney was one of the most respected musicians in Ireland, beginning his musical career as a choir boy in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. By his late teens he was already a fully-fledged church organist and he was organist and choir master of Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford from 1991 to 2018.

He was a gifted choral conductor and directed the Culwick Choral Society and later WIT Choir and Orchestra in many of the great choral masterpieces ranging from Monteverdi’s Vespers to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. His 3 year stint director of the RTÉ singers led to his forming the Eric Sweeney Singers, a chamber choir of semi-professional singers, whose repertoire was primarily contemporary choral music.

Eric was an inspiring teacher and in 1981 he was appointed head of the newly formed music department at Waterford RTC (later WIT). He assembled and guided an expert team of lecturers and created a unique programme of study which combined practical musicianship and good grounding in related academic studies. He also gave generously of his time to other organisations, serving on the Arts Council for 4 years, the committee of Waterford Music Club and was a founder member and chair for over 10 years of Symphony Club of Waterford. He founded and ran Waterford New Music Week, bringing international composers such as Louis Andriessen to Waterford.

Eric was also known as one of Ireland’s foremost composers. His first compositions date from his time as a student at TCD and he was due to perform his last work, a collaboration with the poet Mark Roper in October 2020. His many compositions include songs, piano and organ solos, choral works and symphonies; his chamber opera The Invader was staged to great acclaim as both the Theatre Royal Waterford and Wexford Opera House in 2014.


Doherty The Destroyer

Doherty It’s Strange about Stars

Doherty Time

Sweeney The Widening Gyre

arr Conway Raglan Road

Doherty The Graves at Arbour Hill

arr Dietz Wade in the Water

JS Bach D minor Toccata and Fugue BWV 565

Gyongyosi Solvere Volo (world premier)

Sweeney There is no Rose

Tas Cantate Domino (Irish premier)

Sweeney Christ the World’s Redeemer

New Dublin Voices, conducted by Bernie Sherlock

International award-winning New Dublin Voices is a leading Irish chamber choir. Founded by conductor Bernie Sherlock in 2005, from the start the choir has presented concert programmes that are fresh, innovative, and exciting, ranging widely in style and period from the medieval to the contemporary. The choir takes special pleasure in exploring the music of living composers and has given numerous Irish and world premieres.

Bernie Sherlock is the conductor of the multi-award-winning chamber choir New Dublin Voices which she founded in 2005, and of the Culwick Choral Society. She received her training in choral conducting from Ildikó Herboly Kocsár and Peter Erdei during two years of study in Hungary. She subsequently continued her studies with Gerhard Markson and earned a Masters in Conducting from NUI Maynooth. Bernie has extensive experience directing a wide range of choirs. She was for ten years the Choral Director at the DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama, during which time she led the DIT Chamber Choir to numerous first prizes at the Cork International Choral Festival and at Dublin Feis Ceoil. Under Bernie’s direction the Chamber Choir was the Conservatory’s first ensemble to record a CD when Carols for Christmas was released to great acclaim in December 2000. She also conducted the larger DIT Choral Society in performances of the mainstream oratorio repertoire.

Simon Harden was born in Dublin and has lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Paris.  At present, he holds a Lecturer position in Organ at the TU Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin and is Musical Director and organist of Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford.  Before returning to Ireland in 2015, he worked as Organist and ‘Kantor’ in several parts of Germany, most recently in the Anglican church in Frankfurt and the Christuskirche in Bad Vilbel.  He pursues a busy career as a performer with regular concert engagements taking him throughout Europe and Japan.

He began his studies in Trinity College Dublin reading Music and History of Art. At that time he began to learn the organ with Gerard Gillen and later with Peter Sweeney.  Further studies at the Music Academies in Berlin (Leo van Doeselaar) and Hamburg (Wolfgang Zerer) led to a first-class Postgraduate degree in performance in 2004.  Two years studying french music in Paris (Eric Lebrun) gained him a ‘Premier Prix’ in 2006.  On receiving a scholarship from the City of Hamburg, Simon returned to complete the ‘Konzertexamen’ – the highest award for performance in Germany – with Wolfgang Zerer and Pieter van Dijk.

During his studies, Simon won 1st prize and audience prize at the ‘International Schnitger Organ Competition’ in Alkmaar, Holland 2007 and in October 2006 2nd prize at the Swiss International Organ Competition ‘Grand Prix Bach de Lausanne’.  In December 2006 he was selected from all the instrumental students at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg to receive the DAAD prize for ‘outstanding performance and intercultural involvement’.