Fab at 50

Today was not a normal day in the office. Last week it was announced there would be a special lunchtime event taking place as one of many celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Ulster Tatler. Event organiser and keeper of this secret was Gemma, and as soon as the announcement was made, she was bombarded from all angles as people tried to get her to reveal what the surprise was going to be. However Gemma did not crack and so the secret remained. Today was the big reveal and after the room was set up and the chairs were put out, everyone was waiting with baited breath. As the clock struck 11.30am our surprise guests were announced as… the Ulster Orchestra!

The Ulster Orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary today in unique style by playing 50 pop up concerts in a variety of locations across Belfast, such as George Best Belfast City Airport, Central Station, Falls Road Library, Skainos, Visit Belfast, The Lyric Theatre, Queen’s University, Royal Victoria Hospital and the Ulster Tatler offices, to name a few. The day’s celebrations ended with a concert in the stunning setting of St Anne’s Cathedral followed by a performance of The Nolan Show.

As the string duo set up to perform for us during the 11.30am-12pm slot today, I was incredibly excited. I love string instruments and as a child I longed to learn the violin, only being put off by the fact I am 100% tone deaf and have no musical talent whatsoever. To start the set off we were treated to a classical version of ‘Happy Birthday’ to mark the fact that both Ulster Tatler and Ulster Orchestra are celebrating their 50th anniversaries. After this, the duo performed a number of exquisite pieces; as their fingers flew over the strings and they communicated with each other with a simple nod of a head to ensure they were perfectly in time, I couldn’t help but be blown away by their superb talent.

Before we knew it, the half an hour was over and the string duo had to move on to the next stop of their whistle-stop tour across the City. As we tucked into sandwiches and sweet treats, including a special Ulster Tatler themed cake baked by Gemma, our own Mary Berry, it was lovely to have a bit of time to enjoy some team building after such wonderful entertainment.

It was definitely a special occasion to get to celebrate not one, but two 50th anniversaries under one roof. During the past 50 years Northern Ireland has experienced some very dark days, and it is safe to say that over this period some much needed and appreciated light relief has been provided by both of these organisations. Happy anniversary to both Ulster Tatler and the Ulster Orchestra – here’s to the next 50 years, may they be just as successful!

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