"SORROW" by Natalia VyatlinaAn excellent dinner was held for the orchestra by Nora Gallagher, a distinguished Dublin Solicitor and member of the board in her elegant home when senior academics, members of the Diplomatic Corps and friends gathered to meet Ensemble XXI Moscow. Conductor Lygia O’Riordan introduced each member of the orchestra not as her instrumentalists but with their many other talents such as lead violist Dmitry Zhemchuzhin , also computer virtuoso who regularly rescued Lygia when her Outlook express inbox disappeared or Alik, first desk cellist who knew exactly why her American CD player blew up when plugged into European currents. An evening of “gales of laughter” led to another wonderful day when the historical figure, Louie O’Brien (former assistant to Ireland’s former distinguished Foreign Minister and eminent Human Rights Lawyer, Sean McBride) took the orchestra out for the day. Louie who had known Lygia since she was a few days old was not about to be impressed with speeches by the now child turned conductor’s speeches in her (Louie’s) honour at the lunch thrown for the orchestra. As Lygia waxed on eloquently Louie irreverently and abruptly suddenly demanded: “May I have a drink now?!” Louie was an old family friend and was famous for turning down water at dinner parties “Never touch the stuff”. She lived to a right old age. Lunch was followed by an excursion up to the Wicklow mountains and Louie’s “Dacha” where the boys were able to explore the trout streams before a banquet of caviar and Champagne.

The final engagement for the orchestra was a recording of a new CD of music conducted by the musical director of the original River Dance. This proved a novelty as the musicians donned earphones and played the string parts of the music. An evening of Guinness in the hotel that turned out to have quite a Republican clientele resulting in Fenian songs backed by Russian strings resounding down the Liffey. Next morning, slightly the worse for wear it was off to the airport for the return trip to Moscow. 

As Lygia and Pia bundled into a separate taxi with all the donated violins, the driver remarked “that’s a lot of violins you have there! Where are you headed?”. “Russia”. “You’re not the Irish girl on that island are you that was on with Pat Kenny??!!” “I am”. “Girls I won’t take a penny from you so. ‘Tis marvelous what you’re doing, God Bless ye!”