Blánaid Murphy – Director
Blánaid has been Director of the Palestrina Choir since 2002. Blánaid was an Organ Scholar at Cambridge University and furthered her studies at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart.
She has vast experience as a Choral Director, adjudicator and choral consultant. She has been Choral Director of the RTE Children’s Choir Cór na nÓg and at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. She is currently Musical Director of Dublin Bach Singers, Carlow Choral Society and the Royal Irish Academy of Music Chorale. In addition, she lectures on postgraduate choral conducting courses at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
Her many recordings have included the record-breaking Faith of Our Fathers CD and Cór, arrangements of Irish melodies on the ARSIS label. She has released five CDs with the Palestrina Choir; the most recent of these, O Sacrament Most Holy, was released and formed part of the lead up to the International Eucharistic Congress which was held in Dublin in June 2012. In January 2013 following the prestigious invitation of the Sistine Chapel Choir, she directed the Palestrina Choir singing at Papal Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
In May 2009, Blánaid was instrumental in the formation of St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Girls’ Choir which she continues to direct. In Autumn 2013 she directed the rehearsal and performance of the ‘Messiah Project’ which brought together singers from 27 parishes of the Archdiocese of Dublin and beyond in a performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ to celebrate the ending of the Year of Faith. Since 2013 she has been director of Cavan’s county choir, as part of Culture Cavan.
Germaine Carlos – Manager
Germaine Carlos has had a distinguished career in education, particularly in the areas of Special Educational Needs, Montessori education and early-childhood education. Germaine has been Manager of the Palestrina Choir since 2008. Germaine’s musical background began with early study in voice as a chorister with the Lindsay Singers and piano, furthered later at the College of Music, Dublin (now DIT Conservatory) and was recognised with success as a prize-winner at the Feis Ceoil.
As Choir Manager of the Palestrina Choir and the St Mary’s Girls’ Choir, her roles include but are not limited to the management of staff and choristers, tours, events, communications, bookings, fundraising and the care, development and welfare of choristers.
Shane Barriscale – Assistant Director
Shane Barriscale is a Dublin-based tenor specialising in choral and ensemble singing. He graduated with honours from a Masters in Music Performance (Voice) through DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, and is currently working full-time in both vocal performance and music education. Since 2015, Shane has held the position of Assistant Director and Education Officer with The Palestrina Choir, alongside the choir’s Musical Director Blanaid Murphy, as well as performing with the tenor section of the choir since 2013. He also works closely with St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Girls Choir as a vocal coach. In 2017, Shane became the Musical Director of the Rosemount Singers, based in Julianstown Co. Meath.
Originally from Limerick, Shane began his musical training at the Limerick School of Music, studying Piano, Violin and Voice. From an early age, choral music has played a prominent role in his life. This was encouraged and developed by teacher and conductor Maire Keary-Scanlon, who directed Shane in three choirs between 1997 and 2012 (Cantette Children’s Choir, County Limerick Youth Choir and the Irish Chamber Orchestra Chorus), cultivating a love of vocal harmony which continues to this day. From 2006 to 2013, Shane performed with the Bunratty Castle Singers, a medieval themed vocal ensemble based in Bunratty, Co. Clare. In 2012, Shane was selected to take part in a Choral Mentorship Scheme with Chamber Choir Ireland via a collaboration with the Irish Youth Chamber Choir, which inspired a decision to move to Dublin to pursue music full-time.
Since then, Shane has gone on to establish himself as a prominent feature on the choral music scene in Ireland. He has performed, toured and recorded with many Irish groups including The Palestrina Choir, Irish Youth Chamber Choir, New Dublin Voices, Sestina Early Music Ensemble, Tonnta Vocal Ensemble, Charles Wood Singers, Celtic Woman, Northern Ireland Opera, Wide Open Opera, Opera Theatre Company, RTÉ Concert Orchestra Chorus, Crux Vocal Ensemble, ‘Lassus’ Chamber Choir and Chamber Choir Ireland. Since 2013, Shane has also been performing with Ireland’s leading Vocal Harmony quartet 4 in a Bar, winners of the Irish Association of Barbershop Singer’s National Male Voice Quartet category in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and International Male Voice Quartet category in 2016. As both a performer and an educator, inspiring a love of choral singing in people of all ages has become a great ambition of Shane’s, something which he hopes to continue doing well into the future.
Mr James Reynolds – Librarian and Choir tutor
Dr. Gerard Gillen – Titular Organist, St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral
Dr. Gerard Gillen has been Titular Organist of Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral since 1976 and is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s leading church and concert organists.
A First Class Honours graduate from University College, Dublin, Oxford University, and the Royal Flemish Conservatoire of Music, Antwerp (where he gained the Prix d’Excellence, the highest award for instrumental performance, in the class of Flor Peeters) he has gone on to give almost 1000 recitals internationally and has also been a member of international competition juries in London, Dublin, Ann Arbor and Oxford.
He is Professor Emeritus at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, having retired from the position of Professor and Head of the Music Department of that university in September 2007. He went to NUI, Maynooth in 1985, having previously been a lecturer in music for sixteen years at the University College, Dublin. Professor Gillen oversaw the expansion of the Music Department in undergraduate and post-graduate programs including new diplomas in Music Technology and Church Music. He also directed the University Choral Society from late-1985 until April 2007.
Professor Gillen’s interest lie in the areas of Catholic church music, organ building and performance practice. He was honoured, as the 1992 John Betts Fellow, at Oxford University and, since 1993 has been chair of the Irish Episcopal Commission and Advisory Committee on Church Music. He is also the general editor (with Harry White of UCD) of the bi-annual Irish Musical Studies. Dr. Gillen was Founder-Chairman of the Dublin International Organ & Choral Festival and was the festival’s artistic director from 1990-2000. He was also consultant to the National Concert Hall in Dublin on the1991 installation of the Kenneth Jones concert organ and remains one of the Hall’s honorary organ curators.
He has enjoyed a long and prestigious international career as an organ recitalist appearing at such prestigious international venues as the Royal Festival Hall, London and in numerous US and European cathedrals and churches including King’s College, Cambridge, Notre Dame, Paris and St Stephen’s, Vienna, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco and in Bach’s church, St Thomas’, Leipzig. With a new CD of French organ music released late in 2009, Dr Gillen has confirmed himself as one of Ireland’s busiest and eminent organists.
David Grealy – Associate Organist
David Grealy, a native of Galway, is currently Associate Organist at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, having previously held positions at Westminster Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Dublin, and Galway Cathedral. He has just completed a programme of study in the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, Cologne, during which time he was also an organist in the church of St. Peter & Paul, Ratingen, where he studied improvisation with Ansgar Wallenhorst. He is also a first-class honours graduate of Maynooth University, where he studied organ under Prof Gerard Gillen, and where currently works as a tutor.