SMYOC Gala 2018 - A unique Celtic music experience

SOLOMONS, Md. - The Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra & Choir (SMYOC) invites the community to their 2nd Annual Fundraising Gala on Friday, February 16, at the Holiday Inn in Solomons. The festive event will feature traditional Irish music performed by renowned guest artists and SMYOC’s seven youth ensembles.
The featured guests include three professional Celtic musicians, Patrick Dooley, guitar, and brothers Cillian and Niall Vallely, who have made notable contributions to the revival and advancement of traditional Irish music. The Vallelys, from Armagh, Northern Ireland, were born into a renowned musical dynasty. Their parents founded the Armagh Pipers Club, a center for the promotion and teaching of traditional Irish music. It attracts the biggest names in the field and has recently been the subject of a three-part BBC documentary.

Cillian Vallely, Uilleann piper and low whistler, now resides in New York and plays with the band Lúnasa, which has been dubbed “the hottest Irish acoustic band on the planet” (New York Times). It is currently on tour throughout the US with guest star Tim O’Brien.  Cillian was a featured soloist in the Broadway production of Riverdance and has collaborated with numerous musical celebrities, including Natalie Merchant and Bruce Springstein, whose 2014 album “High Hopes” features his piping.
Niall Vallely, a resident of Cork, has established himself worldwide as one of Ireland’s most innovative and influential musicians and composers.  His extensive performance background on the concertina includes membership with the band Buille, notable for its performances of new Irish music.  His own compositions include traditional style tunes, many of which have become standards in the field. His work has been recorded on more than 75 albums, and he has been dubbed one of Ireland’s “musical treasures.”

The Gala is the major fundraiser of the year for SMYOC, a local non-profit providing musical training and performance opportunities to young talented instrumentalists and singers in the tri-county area.  It will feature a Silent Auction in addition to a 50-50 raffle and “brown bag” or “chance” raffle. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on more than 60 exciting and unique items valued at more than $7,000.
Dinner (5:45-7pm) and dessert is included in the price of the ticket, with catering and cash bar provided by the Holiday Inn.  Tickets ($50) can be purchased at

Live music will be ongoing throughout the evening.  There will be several SMYOC student performances (7pm; 8:30pm). The evening will also feature local guest artists Sarah and Lauren Brenzo, accomplished fiddlers and members of the Celtic Society of Southern Maryland.

SMYOC, under the musical direction of Julien Benichou, has offered musical programs to tri-county youth since 2013. The current Youth Orchestra, a full orchestra accepting both traditional and non-traditional instruments, as well as the current Youth Choirs, draw talented musicians from all three counties in Southern Maryland.  SMYOC also offers a preparatory strings orchestra and two preparatory choirs.

The Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra & Choir exists to nurture, develop and advance young, talented local musicians in quality orchestral and choral programs.
SMYOC, a 501(c)3 non-profit, is working together with Maryland musicians, educators and organizations to expand the musical opportunities available in our community. SMYOC actively encourages young musicians to be involved with as much music as they can, at home and at school, in the community and in their places of worship, in theater and musical ensembles, with their instructors and on their own. The more music, the better! 


For more information, please contact
Anita Wilson, General Manager, SMYOC

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