Students at Ulidia Integrated College welcomed a music industry legend last week with a visit from acclaimed guitarist Carl Verheyen.
Verheyen, who is best known for his work with British rock group Supertramp, led a workshop for students at the school on Friday morning.
It was the latest in a series of visits to Ulidia over the last decade by the American guitarist, who expressed his support for the school’s integrated ethos.
“This is actually my fifth or sixth here; it started out when we had noticed that one of the teachers here, Ann McLean, was turning up at almost every Supertramp gig,” Carl told the Times.
“We became friendly and she asked if there was any chance that we would consider coming to play in Northern Ireland. We first came here in 2003 and played a gig to about 1200 people over two nights, and then we just started coming back to Ulidia year after year. I always really appreciate that as it must by tough to put on a concert when they’re trying to run a school as well! But I do get on very well with the principal, Mr Martin, and I’m really supportive of the integrated education movement here.”
Accompanied by fellow Carl Verheyen Band members Jason Smyth and Stuart Hamm, the talented musician put on a rousing performance for students in the school’s assembly hall.
This was followed by a mini workshop for budding guitarists from Ulidia and Carrick College, aimed at demonstrating particular styles and techniques.
“The workshop is basically going to be geared towards careers and will be almost like a motivational talk; I’m fortunate enough that I’ve pretty much never had another job my entire life but playing the guitar,” added Carl.
“I’ve also been fortunate to know what I wanted to do that whole time, so it’s sort of a ‘follow your dreams’ type of talk, which they’ve heard a million times before but maybe not from the perspective of someone who has taken my path.”
A member of Supertramp since 1985, Carl is also a critically-acclaimed musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer and educator with 11 CDs and two live DVDs released worldwide.
He has been one of Los Angeles’ elite session players for the past 25 years, playing on hundreds of television shows and movie sound tracks, from Gladiator to the Pixar film Ratatouille.
A much sought after studio musician, Carl plays on other artists’ CDs whenever his busy schedule permits. In 2009, he was heard by 67, 000,000 people as a featured soloist at the Academy Awards ceremony.