Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Gig For All Seasons

"A GIG FOR ALL SEASONS, a concert of sean nós song, ancient harp music, and traditional tunes, takes place in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church on Thursday May 5 at 8pm.

Singer Róisín Elsafty, piper Ronan Browne, and harpist Siobhán Armstrong return to Galway for this show, following their sell-out performance at the Celtic Connections in Glasgow.

Róisín won the best sean nós singer award in the Irish Music Awards 2010; Ronan is the uilleann piper and singer with Cran. He is a former member of the Afro Celt Sound System and performed as part of Riverdance. Siobhán Armstrong plays historical harps of many kinds and is particularly keen on encouraging the revival of Ireland’s early harp.

Tickets are €15/12 and are available from Galway Early Music (087 - 930 5506, www.galwayearlymusic.com) or at the door. This is a fundraising concert for The Galway Early Music Festival."

Craic agus ceol with Comhaltas at the Offaly Fleadh - Lifestyle - Offaly Express

ENJOY and experience traditional Irish music at its best at Edenderry from Tuesday May 3 until Sunday May 8, 2011

Traditional Irish music is a legacy that has never died; it is still growing, taught, and appreciated all over the world. It is this legacy that will be celebrated throughout the upcoming 52nd Offaly County Fleadh.

The festivities organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will consist of enthralling traditional music sessions with musicians of all ages and instruments of all sizes. With competitions for every age group, as well as solo, duet, trio and céilί competitions, the music and fun is non stop.

Edenderry has all the necessary facilities to make this event a great success and the organising committee looks forward to welcoming many musicians and visitors to the county for what promises to be a fantastic few days of Ceol agus Craic.

The festivities will commence on Tuesday May 3 with a singing and storytelling session in Donoghue’s Lounge at 9.30pm. On Wednesday May 4 all are welcome to a table quiz which is sure to challenge everyone’s knowledge on a range of topics in Donoghue’s Lounge at 9pm. On Thursday May 5, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will give Offaly’s young scholars a chance to participate in a school quiz in Oaklands Community College at 7.30pm.

The weekend’s festivities will commence on Friday May 6, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann invites all those interested to the Official Opening and Gala Concert in Oaklands Community College at 8.30pm.

The competitions will kick-start on Saturday at 11am where the local talent is sure to impress the judges on hand. In the evening there will be a chance for everyone to put on their dancing shoes at the Fleadh Céilí in the Boys School Auditorium with the Seán Norman Céilí Band at 10pm.

The festivities will culminate on Sunday May 8 with Aifreann na Fléidhe followed by the further competitions at 11am. The expectations are high for this year’s competitors where the judges choosing the winners for each category and competition will not have an easy task.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music. 2011 is the 60th anniversary of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and its organising branches will put on special events to celebrate the anniversary. They are a non-profit cultural movement with hundreds of local branches around the world who have been working for the cause of Irish music since the middle of the last century (1951).

For further details on events visit www.offalyfleadh.com

Craic agus ceol with Comhaltas at the Offaly Fleadh - Lifestyle - Offaly Express

Monday, 25 April 2011

Hear Donnacha Dennehy's "Grá agus Bás" in Its Entirety As NPR First Listen

With just over a week to go before the May 3 release of Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy's Nonesuch debut album, Grá agus Bás, you can now listen to the album in its entirety till release day on npr.org as an NPR First Listen. (Also streaming in full there till tomorrow are two Nonesuch albums due out then: Emmylou Harris's Hard Bargain and James Farm's self-titled debut.) Grá agus Bás includes the title piece, which was inspired by Sean Nós "old style" Irish vocal music, as well as the composer’s song cycle That the Night Come, comprising six settings of poems by W.B. Yeats. The Dublin–based Crash Ensemble performs both works, conducted by Alan Pierson. Irish singer Iarla O’Lionáird is the soloist for Grá agus Bás, while Dawn Upshaw is featured on That the Night Come.

Whatever notions of traditional Irish music you may have, NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas exclaims, "Prepare to have all those preconceptions blown away by this album from the superb 40-year-old Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy."

The title piece "is full of sounds and textures that are at once haunting and exhilarating," says Tsioulcas. She lauds both the "superb musicianship" from Crash Ensemble and, still more, O’Lionáird's vocals. "His sweet tenor ringing above murmuring strings and winds at the beginning, combined with propulsive, primal rhythms at the end, created for me one of the best and most satisfying listening experiences of the year so far."

Hear Donnacha Dennehy's "Grá agus Bás" in Its Entirety As NPR First Listen | Nonesuch Records

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Music has opened doors for Ireland's Paddy Keenan

Had the wheel of fortune spun ever so slightly differently, Paddy Keenan might today be known as the man who kept the Beatles together. Then again, he could be a respected singer-guitarist, on a par with his Irish contemporaries Paul Brady and Christy Moore. Or, just as easily, he could be lying in the cold, cold ground.

Instead, though, Keenan’s survived hard times, fame, and a fumbled encounter with the Fab Four to become one of the greatest virtuosos of the uilleann pipes, Ireland’s smaller, bellows-driven version of the more familiar Highland pipes. On the line from his adopted home in New Hampshire, he sounds settled and happy—and yet he still finds himself in some unusual places.

Most recently, he’s been in West Africa, shooting Dearbhla Glynn’s documentary Dambé: The Mali Project alongside Hothouse Flowers singer Liam Ó Maonlaí, kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté, and Ali Farka Touré protégé Afel Bocoum, among others. Part travelogue, part concert film, and part ethnomusicological treatise, Dambé asks the question: “How can we connect with other cultures?” And the answer, for Keenan, is no surprise.

Music has opened doors for Ireland's Paddy Keenan | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com

The pipes are calling for singer Dempsey

"LEADING singer/songwriter Damien Dempsey is lending his backing to a campaign to help develop the making of uilleann pipes in Ireland.

Despite being uniquely Irish, a large proportion of the instruments are made abroad. However, with a sharp increase in the popularity of the instrument, makers in Ireland and worldwide cannot meet the growing demand.

The Dubliner is to perform a special gig to help raise funds for, and awareness of, the PipeCraft campaign, aimed at developing long-term training for uilleann pipe makers in Ireland.

In response to this problem, Na Piobairi Uilleann (NPU), the association of uilleann pipers, with the assistance of the Arts Council, has set up a training unit at the Port Tunnel Business Park in Clonshaugh, to teach a new generation of makers.

'The sound of the uilleann pipes is our sound,' said Dempsey, pictured left with piper Sean McKeon who plays with his band.

He will perform the fundraiser at the Grand Social venue in Liffey Street, Dublin, on Friday April 29. Tickets are only available from NPU, www.pipers.ie or by calling 01-873 0093"

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

An Irishman's Diary - The Irish Times - Wed, Apr 13, 2011

WE’RE ALL encouraged to be ambassadors for Irish tourism these days and, when approached by visitors needing advice, most of us are happy to oblige. But as an exchange on a traditional music website highlighted recently, there are limits – ethical and otherwise – to what can reasonably be expected.

The conversation began promisingly. Under the tag-line “Music in Co Clare”, a group of English instrumentalists sought tips about pub sessions in which they could participate during an Easter visit. So far, so good. The mere fact that they were targeting Clare spoke well of their trad sensibilities. And sure enough, locals were soon rolling out the welcome mat. Venues in Ennis, Feakle, Miltown Malbay, and elsewhere were suggested.

Then, suddenly, matters took an unhappy turn. Asked for extra details of their trip, the visitors gave some dates and a rough itinerary. But they also gave more information about themselves, mentioning that they comprised a group of ten: “3 of whom play guitars, 1 bouzouki (novice), 2 bodhráns and 5 of us sing”.

This was a big mistake. I’m not a musician, traditional or otherwise. I have, however, attended enough music sessions in Miltown Malbay to know there is something about the phrase – “3 guitars, 1 bouzouki (novice), 2 bodhráns and 5 of us sing” – designed to chill a Clareman’s heart. Worse still, on the subject of repertoire, the group’s spokesman noted that, while they performed folk songs from “Cornwall up to Scotland”, they also did many contemporary numbers “and even some country/middle of the road stuff”.

I sensed this would go down about as well in Clare as a group of Australian drag artistes logging onto a Taliban website and announcing plans to tour Afghanistan with a “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” tribute show. So I was surprised when, at first, the ambassadorial activity seemed to be unabated.

But if you listened carefully enough, you could just about hear the welcome mat being rolled swiftly up again. I also thought I detected a creaking, metallic sound somewhere in the background: consistent with direction signposts on the outskirts of various Clare towns being altered to point the visitors somewhere else.

Eventually, a poster called “Bannerboy” broke the diplomatic silence. “Stick to Doolin”, he advised the tourists, ominously: “We certainly wouldn’t want you in our local!” And with that, the gloves were off: although, in fairness, the ensuing exchanges stopped just short of violence.

The visitors defended their position, not very convincingly. Bannerboy further explained his, saying he’d seen too many local sessions “ruined by eejit tourists”. The group were also dubbed a “gang of pluckers and thumpers”. And even one of the politer commentators – an earlier ambassador who had returned to withdraw his letter of passage – agreed the critics had a point, because

too many musicians came to Ireland “to be heard and not to listen”.

Maybe the tourists were listening this time. At any rate, soon afterwards, they lapsed into sullen silence. And it was hard not to feel a little sympathy for them. But then again, maybe not.

The traditional musicians of Clare are a famously self-policing community and I suppose they have a right to impose quality control, however brutally. At least they were honest about it. A more typical Irish approach might have been to direct the session-seekers to the end of the pier in Kilrush, telling them that, from there, they should “keep going until you see the Statue of Liberty”. And even then, the visitors might not have taken the hint.

An Irishman's Diary - The Irish Times - Wed, Apr 13, 2011

Cavan's top musicians to perform in 'the big smoke'

Fancy a good night out in 'the big smoke', but torn between that and supporting your home county? Well you don't have to choose! There's an important Fleadh 2011 fundraiser in the Harcourt Hotel, Dublin next Monday, April 18. The pressure is on for Cavan to maintain the reputation of excellence that it established at last year's All-Ireland Fleadh, but funding is needed. What better way to do your bit, than to get in the trad' mood.
The host for the Harcourt Hotel event is Martin Donohoe, our local trad' legend who's always sure to get the craic and ceol going, and there's a fantastic line-up of performers with a distinct Cavan flavour.
Among the musicians travelling to the event and giving their services free for the night are:
Sean O Se, Cork (Singer); John Carty, Roscommon (Banjo and Fiddle); Seamus Fay, Cavan (Lilter); Fintan McManus, Fermanagh (Bouzouki); Patsy Hanly, Roscommon (Flute); Roisin O'Reilly, Cavan (Singer); John McSherry, Antrim (Piper); Donal O'Connor, Louth (Fiddle); Cathal Lynch, Tyrone (Singer); Anton McGabhann, Cavan (fiddle); Brid Harper, Donegal (Fiddle); Martin Gaffney, Cavan (Flute); Darren Maloney, Cavan (Banjo); Daoiri Farrell, Dublin (Singer); Gary Lynch, Fermanagh (Fiddle); Kavan Donohoe, Cavan (Harp); Dave Sheridan, Leitrim (Flute); Philip Clarke, Cavan (Piano); Trevor Bury, Cavan (Bodhran); Laura Crossan, Leitrim (Dancer); John Campbell, Louth (Guitar); Niall Preston, Dublin (Bodhran); Joe Brennan, Cavan (Guitar); and "a few surprise guests on the night".

Cavan's top musicians to perform in 'the big smoke' - Entertainment - Going Out - Articles - Anglo Celt

Irish-born professor of music Nina Nash-Robertson says career is rare, wondrous gift

"Nina Nash-Robertson considers herself a “real choir geek.”
The director of choral activities and professor of music said her favorite piece is often the one she is working on and she has been moved to tears by the beauty of many.
She said she loves renaissance music and has a special interest in Irish choral music because she was born in Ireland, where she retains citizenship.
“I find it beautiful and deeply moving and very exciting,” she said.
Nash-Robertson has been director of choral activities since 1983 and conducts the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Festival Chorus. She said the most rewarding part about being a professor and a director is working with talented students who love music.
“I get to make music all day long,” she said. “That’s a rare and wondrous gift.”"

The fleadh down in Parsippany

MAYOMAN Tom Vesey from Ballaghaderreen, one of the key Comhaltas movers and shakers in North America and a long-time CCE operative in the New Jersey area for decades through his Martin Mulvihill branch, is always thinking about how to do things differently and get more young people involved.

When he was chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Region he turned over the reigns of running the New York Fleadh to the next generation. It was their children who would be benefitting directly from keeping the competitions going, he reasoned, and he also recruited the nascent crop of teachers centered in Pearl River and elsewhere in New York City.

The senior guard stepped aside and let the young Turks provide the much needed energy and new thinking to allow it to grow substantially, encouraged by Vesey’s mantra of “looky-here, whatever ye want to do.”

The new blood also energized him and he was still respected as a man who could get things done, climbing every mountain and challenge to raise the Comhaltas banner higher and higher and more profitable, allowing it to underwrite its cultural mission, particularly in promoting Irish music education and travel to Ireland for Fleadh Cheoils.

Having negotiated and run five successful CCE conventions at Hilton Hotel properties in New Jersey, the last four in Parsippany, Vesey was convinced that the New York Fleadh was ready to be moved to this hotel in Northern New Jersey and out of a less accommodating and limiting school locales.

The fleadh down in Parsippany | IrishCentral

Monday, 11 April 2011

'Others can do beautiful things with my little tunes'

"New ways of passing on traditional music – by CD, by book and online – are helping Irish musicians to share their sound with trad-lovers all over the world, writes SIOBHAN LONG

PLAYING BY ear is one of the great cornerstones of traditional music. It’s thanks to the players’ finesse that tunes can be picked up purely from listening, with scant reference to written notation. It’s a reflection of where traditional music has sprung from, that musicians rarely burden themselves with sheet music. But in keeping with the laws of perpetual motion, the tunes are being passed on in many other ways too, which in particular, is a boon for players with a hunger to add newly composed tunes to their repertoire.

Over the past decade, online music tuition websites have sprung up, where musicians the world over can learn a tune from an Irish musician without ever having to set foot in this country. The Irish Traditional Music Archive and Na Píobairí Uilleann have both embraced the internet, making tunes available in notation form, as well as in fully interactive MP3 formats, all the better to make them accessible to anyone who wants to listen, play, analyse or interpret them in all their three dimensional beauty."

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Celtic music and culture with Órla Fallon

"Experience an evening of Celtic music and culture when Órla Fallon, renowned singer/harpist originally from the village of Kockananna in County Wicklow, Ireland, comes to The Ridgefield Playhouse on Friday, April 15, at 8 p.m. A former member of the highly successful Celtic Woman ensemble, Órla has experienced celebrity as a solo artist for the past three years."

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