‘War’ at Ringsend Rock School

By Rúairí Conneely

pg 33 rock school1

Christmas is coming, and intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic regard this earth with envious eyes. No, you read that right, and before you email our office to report that writer and editor have lost their minds, try and see if you can remember where the quote is from. Don’t strain, it will become clear in a few lines.

The Ringsend Rock School is preparing something for December, along with its annual Christmas concert. The Christmas show will go ahead at an unconfirmed date (at time of writing) but Rock School ‘headmaster’ Dylan Clayton tells NewsFour that it will be between the 10th and the 20th of the month, so keep an eye on the Ringsend Rock School Facebook page and the RICC website for the exact date.

NewsFour had a sit-down with Dylan to find out how the year had been, and what plans were afoot. He told us that the Christmas show is a regular feature. The Rock School has been running for five years now, and there has been a show every year so far.

The big news, however, is the fruition of a long-standing ambition of Dylan’s. This Christmas the Rock School will showcase a version of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. A rock opera first performed and released in 1978, Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds is one of the biggest selling albums of all time, having shifted over 2.5 million copies in the UK alone. The album – and concert – is, of course, an adaptation of HG Wells’s classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, which details a Martian invasion of earth using sophisticated unearthly technology and bioweapons (and yes, that’s where the quote in the first paragraph is from).

Anyone who has heard or seen the show understands what an ambitious undertaking this is. We wondered where Dylan got the idea: “I went to see the show in the Point about five years ago, and I remember thinking I wanted to do something at that scale, but obviously you’d need a full orchestra.”

In the interim, five years on and five years deep into the history of the Rock School, Dylan has assembled 13 players, comprised of bandmates of his own from his side projects (including a Thin Lizzy tribute act) and students from the school. Dylan is orchestrating, Brian Higgins (the Rock School drum teacher) will provide percussion, Michael Joyce will provide graphics – War of the Worlds, as a show, is famous for its visualisations – and the narration will be provided by Philip Murphy.

Highlights to look forward to include Dylan and Robyn Harrison (alumni of the first ever Rock School class) performing Spirit of Man, Aaron Hamilton (also one of the first ever Rock School graduates) performing Thunderchild, and Conor Hamilton will perform Forever Autumn.

“This is easily the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted,” enthuses Dylan. “We started rehearsing about a year ago and it got a bit scatty, so we picked it up again slowly since March or April.” Dylan and the students have been invited to attend the currently touring version of the show in Liverpool on November 27th. “So the kids will really get the idea and get to enjoy the show.”