CACSSS Alumni News

Staf Gebruers Memorial Award

28 May 2019

Lorna O’Byrne, the 2018 awardee of the €2,000 prize, graduated with first-class honours in the Bachelor of Arts Degree, in both music and Gaeilge (Joint Hons.). Lorna is currently undertaking the Professional Masters of Education (Music) at the University of Limerick.

"I was lucky enough to have had an undergraduate degree that brought with it so many positive and exciting experiences” says Lorna. “I was so delighted and honoured to have been chosen for such a prestigious award, it really gave a gorgeous ending to my time in UCC. It was such a pleasure to meet and play for the sponsors of the award, Tom and Ann, and for Staf Gebruers’ son Adrian and his wife Liz at a beautiful lunch at UCC, hosted for myself and my family, as well as staff from the Music Department, John Godfrey and Dr Jillian Rogers, both of whom played major and influential roles in my undergraduate programme."

About the Sponsors of the Award - Tom & Ann Jago

Tom and Ann Jago are delighted to provide the funding for the annual Staf Gebruers Memorial Award which takes place each year at UCC.  Tom explains the background as follows.

"I had the good fortune to grow up in Cobh, where I came to know Staf Gebruers, when I was a young man. He left an indelible impression on me, by helping me to develop my interest in art, but, more especially, my love of music. I had the benefit of his teaching in Presentation College in the town. But, more importantly, I sang with him in the Cobh Cathedral Choir and in the Cork City Choral Society. I played a small - very small - part in 'The Lily of Killarney' and in 'Carmen'. These were two of the many operas he produced in Cobh, during a time when the town was in a very poor economic state. His contribution to the cultural life of the town was enormous.

Staf Gebruers' activities stretched far beyond Cobh, throughout Ireland and Europe. The resume of his career below is only a brief outline of his contribution and importance. 2019 marks 92 years of carillon recitals by Staf and his son Adrian in Cobh Cathedral, which have given great enjoyment to countless people in the Cork Harbour area. These recitals have established Cobh as home to one of the most prestigious carillons in Europe. The annual prize honours the man and his work."

About Staf Gebruers (1902-1970)

Born in Antwerp (Flanders), Staf Gebruers received his early education at the local Jesuit schools and then at the Antwerp Conservatoire and the Lemmens Institute for Church Music in Mechelen. He also studied under Jef Denyn, the man responsible for the renaissance of the carillon art in our time, and with the charismatic composer Jef van Hoof. In 1924, he was appointed carillonneur, organist and choirmaster of St Colman's Cathedral in Cobh and for almost fifty years played a major role in the musical life of his adoptive town and country. He also fulfilled regular guest engagements abroad. He taught singing in primary and post-primary schools and for many years was Professor of Music at Mount Melleray Seminary in County Waterford.

He was responsible for countless musical productions in Cobh and elsewhere, ranging from operetta through oratorio to grand opera. A prolific composer and arranger, he was also a gifted conductor, particularly of choral music. Throughout his career, he was resident conductor of several choirs, including the Irish Naval Service Choir, the Verolme Cork Dockyard Male Voice Choir and the Cork City Choral Society. During the 1960s, he directed the latter choir through three successful and highly acclaimed tours of Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

He was much in demand as a lecturer and also did a considerable amount of work for radio and television. He was a frequent prize winner at the Oireachtas and the Dublin Feis Ceoil and on at least five separate occasions was the recipient of the much coveted Milligan Fox Gold Medal for original composition. Other honours received included the Key to Washington D.C. (1957), the Medal of Honour of SABAM (The Belgian Artists' Association) (1958) and the Papal medal "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" in recognition of outstanding work for church music (1969).

Staf married a Cobh girl, Maureen Kidney, and became a native of the town. They had two children, Mary and Adrian. Mary, her late husband Dermot and family lived in Bunclody, County Wexford, where she has taken an active part in the musical life of the community as a music teacher, choral conductor and organist. Adrian followed in his father's footsteps since Staf's death in 1970. He lives in Cobh with his wife, Liz, and family and is currently the carillonneur and organist at Cobh Cathedral. The tradition, therefore, survives, with 2019 marking 92 years of continuous carillon and organ playing by father and son. They had two children, Mary and Adrian. Mary, her late husband Dermot and family lived in Bunclody, County Wexford, 

 

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