Dolores Vischer — in her own words

Dolores Vischer — in her own words

Dolores Vischer set up Creative Tours Belfast this spring to offer tours focused on music and the arts. She has developed and regularly delivers the Belfast UNESCO City of Music Walking Tour, in association with the Oh Yeah Music Centre. Public tour dates conclude with a private gig by a local talented musician at the Oh Yeah.

BELFAST SUPERSTAR A mural on the the Albert Bridge, Belfast in honour of singing legend Ruby Murray (Wikimedia Commons)

I’m enjoying my change of career as a tour guide and working to spread the word about the new ‘Belfast UNESCO City of Music Walking Tour’ — so that I can share my passion for the music of Belfast with more visitors and locals.

I find all of Joshua Burnside’s songs very moving: in particular, Noa Mercier off the super Into the Depths of Hell album. But Patti Smith is the musician who has most influenced me. In addition to loving her music and lyrics, I admire her authenticity. She hasn’t changed her values, basically what I perceive to be a punk ethos

It’s really hard to pick one gig as the best I’ve seen this year in Belfast - there have been so many memorable ones, especially after the awful silence of much of 2021. But I’d say the Women’s Work Festival Showcase run by the Oh Yeah Music Centre, just has the edge. It is an annual event giving a platform at Oh Yeah to the fabulous and diverse local female and non-binary talent.

I got into tour guiding because I would regularly have family visitors over the years from England, Switzerland and North America, and realised I loved showing people around Belfast. It struck me this would make an ideal new career. I had worked in communications, journalism and event management roles, most recently for one of Belfast’s universities. During lockdown when I couldn’t get out to gigs, I spent the time working instead for a guiding qualification. I’m now a Belfast Green Badge, awarded by the UK-wide Institute of Tourist Guiding.

I have always believed that Belfast is a city rich in music. So when it was designated a UNESCO City of Music last November, a sentence that Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, and now a music ambassador for Belfast said, ‘Music is woven into the DNA of Belfast’, resonated with me.

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol (Photo by Debbie Hickey/Getty Images)

I sing in the Cathedral Choir. It’s just so much fun, especially when you have the fabulous Katie Richardson in charge. Katie gets us some terrific gig opportunities. For example, we’ve recorded a song she composed for a UK Green Space, Dark Skies project and performed it live while being filmed at the atmospheric Giant’s Ring near Belfast.

Recently I’ve been listening to The NI Music Prize eligible lists of singles and albums released by NI bands and singers. The NI Music Prize is a big night in November for Belfast’s music community. I’ve been amazed by the quality, volume and range of music that has come out in 12 months. NI definitely punches way above its weight in quality output for our size.

I enjoy opera and really admire the work of our own NI Opera company. I caught several performances by individual company members at summer recitals in First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street and as part of free music performances for ‘Sundays on the Maritime Mile’. The company is working to make opera more accessible and I admire that. They’re also just had a great run with La Traviata in Belfast’s Grand Opera House.

People on the music tour enjoy hearing many music-related stories, for example that Belfast’s first music festival, the Harper’s Assembly, took place in 1792; or that singer Ruby Murray was so successful in the 1950s that she still holds the world record for the number of chart hit singles she had at the one time.

Irish traditional music, especially great fiddle playing like Martin Hayes’ – just stirs my soul.

On tour with Dolores — at the Lagan Footbridge

Seize the moment or carpe diem would be my motto. This is my approach to life, give anything a go, take every opportunity to try new things. I even wrote a song about it that I’m lucky to have included in a new album this month called Isobars by The OTH Music Collective. In a similar vein, one of my favourite song lyric lines is ‘Grab it and change it it’s yours’ from Stiff Little Fingers’ Alternative Ulster. I believe if you’re not happy with any part of your life, you should work to change it somehow. No one else will. And if something doesn’t exist start it up. This links back to the ethos of the punk era music of the late 70s. I loved the excitement of punk music then and love the energy too of Belfast punk music today.

 Belfast has everything you need in a city, in a compact size. Most importantly it has a great music scene! Plus, we have beaches, mountains and lovely countryside all on our doorstep for day trips.

Apart from music which is a life-long love of mine, the love of my life is definitely my husband, life partner and best friend Jonny whom I met aged 18, in first year of university.

For more information about Belfast go to Visit Belfast’s website