Longford student drumming up a storm

by Conor Barrins

Gráinne Kavanagh

An expected audience of four billion people might intimidate some people but for one Ballymahon woman it’s all going to be part of a day’s work this July.

Twenty-four-year old Gráinne Kavanagh has just been selected to play the drums at the opening ceremony of this summer’s Olympic games in London’s new 80,000 seater Olympic Stadium, with an expected worldwide audience of just under four billion watching at home.

The former Mercy Convent, Ballymahon student, is taking it all in her stride. “If I thought about it too long it’d probably bring about stage fright, and you definitely don’t want that with all those people watching,” she laughed.

Gráinne is currently a full time student at Tech Music School in West London, studying Commercial Music Performance in Drums.

The drums are not traditionally an instrument associated with women; for example, only four of the 36 people in Gráinne’s class are female.

“It’s certainly a male dominated instrument but I just had one of those moments nine or ten years ago when I decided I wanted to give the drums a go, and I’ve never looked back,” she told the Leader last week, while home from London for a few days.

There are a number of sentences that strike fear into parents, one of which is undoubtedly, “I want a drum-kit,” but for Gráinne’s mother, Kathleen, getting her daughter another musical instrument was a natural thing to do.

“We always knew the musical ability was there – she was a self-thought musician right from a young age. She was always trying out different instruments but it always came back to getting a drum-kit. So we got one, and the rest, as they say, is history,” Kathleen laughed.

Gráinne graduated with a degree in business computing from Athlone Institute of Technology last year before following her heart and heading to London to study drums.

Each week the Tech Music School sends an email to its students detailing upcoming auditions. “One of them was for the opening ceremony at the Olympics, and I just thought, why not? I went for the first audition in October, then I got called to the second round in November and then on January 16th I found out I had got it,” Gráinne said, adding that it hasn’t really hit home just how big an event this is to be involved with.

The artistic director of the opening ceremony is Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle, whose films include ‘Slumdogg Millionaire.’ Rehearsals for the big day have not yet begun, but when they do, the musicians will be sworn to secrecy as London prepares for one of its biggest showcases of all time.

They are set to get under way towards the end of May with an intensive two month practice period in the build up to July 27. “I just really can’t wait to get going on the project,” Gráinne said excitedly.