Sharon Treacy-Dunne BA BMus HDip Ed
CEO, Founding Director & Musical Director
+353 86 828 3268
Sharon was awarded her B.A. in Music and English from U.C.D. in 1986, B. Mus. from U.C.D. in 1987 and H. Dip. Ed. from T.C.D. in 1988 when she also began teaching Music and English at St. Louis Secondary School, Dundalk. She founded the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland (CBOI) in 1995 at a landmark moment in Irish History – the implementation of a long-term peace process, establishing links between St. Louis Secondary School, Dundalk; the Abbey Grammar School, Newry; Banbridge Academy and Wellington College, Belfast. Over time, further links were established with the South Ulster Youth Orchestra and Band; Altnaveigh House, Newry, Co. Down; the Ulster Scots Agency; the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association of Northern Ireland; Colmcille Pipe and Drum Corps, Derry; and the Michelle Johnston School of Highland Dance, Belfast. While still teaching full time at St. Louis, Sharon also established European links through the Socrates Programme with choirs from the Kallio School of Performing Arts in Finland and the Liberec School in, Czech Republic. CBOI and the choirs toured and performed in Ireland, Finland and the Czech Republic.
When Sharon was seconded on a full-time basis to the CBOI as CEO in 2002, she established a base at the Dundalk Institute of Technology and over time opened membership of the Orchestra to all young people on the island of Ireland. Since then, she has been involved in all aspects of management and development: organising workshops, rehearsals, performances and tours; logistics; funding and sponsorship; marketing and PR; musical/artistic direction and production; and establishing cultural, government and business links nationally and internationally, along with representing the CBOI at public events.
The CBOI is now fortunate to rehearses in the state-of-the-art facilities provided at Coláiste Chú Chulainn Dundalk thanks to the generousity of the Principal Tomas Sharkey and the Louth Meath Education and Training Board.
Sharon wanted an orchestra that would evoke the rich heritage and culture of Ireland and channel the energy and spirit of the young people while showcasing their talent. With this in mind, the CBOI plays a unique and powerful blend of symphonic, trad/pop/rock music incorporating traditional instruments like Uilleann Pipes and Bagpipes with the full symphony orchestra. The core message of universal peace is central to the CBOI’s music and the message.
In 2003 Sharon established Peace Proms – a Cross Border choral education programme for Primary Schools which promotes Peace through Music. 200 children from 2 schools participated in the first Peace Proms. Now almost 1,000 Primary Schools, and over 35,000 children from different social, economic, cultural, religious and political backgrounds actively participate in Peace Proms each year.
The programme which is provided free to Primary Schools culminates is a series of 15 epic choral and orchestral performances held annually at Arenas throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK. Audiences in excess of 60,000 people attend Peace Proms concerts each year. Approximately 6,000 children participate in Peace Proms Northern Ireland with a 50/50 representation from Catholic and Protestant communities.
Recognising the orchestra’s potential for showcasing the best of Ireland on an international stage, Sharon has planned and managed many highly ambitious and hugely successful international tours to the UK, Europe and the USA. International tours included:
- UK including the Royal Albert Hall, London (1996 & 2012).
- EUROPE including the Czech Republic, Finland and Rome for the 400thAnniversary of the Flight of the Earls (1998, 2002, 2008)
- USA, California- 8 cities (2002 & 2004)
- USA including the White House, Washington D.C., Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Centre, New York; Boston Symphony Hall; Chicago Symphony Hall 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014 & 2016
- CHINA, World Trade Expo in Shanghai, China. (2010)
Under Sharon’s direction and management, the CBOI has performed for many special occasions. Some highlights include performances for President Barak Obama, White House, Washington D.C. St. Patrick’s Day in 2016; Queen Elizabeth ii at Hillsborough Castle; Presidents of Ireland Michael D. Higgins at Peace Proms in the RDS, Dublin 2019; President McAleese at Áras and Uachtaráin; the Official launch of the 1916 commemorations on behalf of the Government of Ireland in 2016; the World Expo in Shanghai, by special invitation of the Department of An Taoiseach in 2010 where they received an international award for the “Most Outstanding Performance”; 400th Anniversary of the Flight of the Earls in Rome by special invitation of the Department of An Taoiseach in 2008.
MUSIC EDUCATION PROGRAMMES:
Sharon has developed and launched several parallel music education programmes to complement the work or the CBOI. In 2015 Sharon developed and launched a national talent competition called ‘The Soloist’. Along with receiving a trophy and €1,000 prize money, the winner of the performs with the CBOI at all Peace Proms concerts throughout the year. Also in 2015, Sharon established a Teacher Training Programme for Primary School teachers who participate in Peace Proms. Over 100 teachers take part in the programme each Summer. The programme is recognised and accredited by the Department of Education and Skills.
In 2018 Sharon established two new instrumental teaching projects Dynamics and Count Us In. Dynamics is FREE violin tuition programme for Primary School children aged 6 – 12 years. Children receive a violin on loan and 1-hour group lesson every day during term time. 80 children from socio-economically deprived and/or rurally isolated areas currently participate in Dynamics. CBOI received a ‘National Impact Award’ for this programme. Count Us in is a free tuition programme for young people between the ages of 10 and 14 years. Free music lessons are offered in Orchestral instruments including String, Woodwind and Brass. Both Dynamics and Count Us In is a pioneering project modelled on the Venezuelan system of music education which is regarded as the best in the world. Young musicians trained under Count Us In can go on to become members of the Cross Border Orchestra.
Our Board of Directors
Susan Forde has been involved in education for almost 40 years, in both the primary and secondary sectors.
Susan was teaching in St. Louis Secondary School in Dundalk when the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland was founded in 1995. She has been involved with the Orchestra ever since and is now on the Board of Directors. Susan has taken on many roles within the Orchestra including coordinating international trips and performances as well as chaperoning Orchestra members while on these foreign trips.
Susan is also a team leader with the charity Children in Hospital Ireland which, through it’s play service, supports both children and their parents while they are in hospital. Susan provides supportive play and helps distract children from the stress of being in hospital in Our Lady’s Childrens’ Hospital.
Managing Director of Tomhas Advisory Ltd
Former School Principal, Senator and Special Adviser to Leo Varadkar