Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yorkshire Folk: Royal Traditions at Dungworth



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A singer takes his turn at The Royal Traditions Folk Club  in Dungworth


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Running order 

I spent the weekend visiting a family member in Sheffield. The chill was banished by two great  evenings at Yorkshire folk music events.

Leaving behind the tempting attractions of the city concert halls and theatres, we ventured to the edge of the Peak District to the inauspiciously named village of Dungworth to spend Saturday evening at  Royal Traditions, Folk Club. When we arrived at The Royal Hotel, the evening was in full swing and the congregation of young and old was working their way through  a house song  I don't use the word, 'audience' as active  participation in singing  was as  integral to the evening as listening. There was something of the spirit  of a religious service with the order of the songs on the programme chalked up on the board  the words circulated to encourage everyone to join in. And  join in everybody did with fervour and  a rumble of convivial counterpoint of bar chatter from beyond the main chamber. Mercifully, there were no amplification,  just gentle strains of fiddle and  concertina to accompany the voices.  Sustenance was in the form of  sandwiches and ale.


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Post show chat with Bryony  and daily bread
Special guest on the evening was  Bryony Griffith, who held the floor from her spot at the fireplace. Accompanying herself on fiddle and viola, Griffith was good company. We  heard some lively songs, some great  fiddle tunes deftly executed  and chat all delivered in  robust Yorkshire tones. Mighty stuff and highly entertaining.
AFSAD
Jon Boden 

The evening closed with another communal sing under MC Jon Boden  after which contributions were invited  from then floor. All were welcome. Patrons stood or sat where they were and performed their turn. 'Come on John , a song before you catch your bus', the MC  called  during a brief lull' .

It was a thrilling memorable evening and more   restorative of the spirits than  a stirring organ voluntary or sweetly sung motet from  a choir loft.
Next evening May 2nd Brian Peters

Jon Boden is front man with English folk fusion group Bellowhead. Much food for thought  in  this keynote address to English Folk Expo 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkM0H1miEgs&feature=youtu.be

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Related posts  More Sheffield Folk http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2015/03/reg-meuross-at-heeley-institute.html


Saturday Night at Aggies http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2011/02/saturday-night-at-aggies.html
Ceiliuradh at Albert Hall  http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2014/04/ceiliuradh-royal-albert-hall-some.html
The Unthanks at NCH http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2015/03/the-unthanks-at-national-concert-hall.html
Lackendarra Jim and Jordan's Rigout http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2014/03/waterford-rhapsodies-backstrand-and.html
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Bryony Griffith

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Theme Days


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Most of my posts feature reports on performances by others. I love performing myself  and rarely a week goes by that I don't get called on to play a few tunes somewhere.  Theme days throw up a welcome opportunity to choose repertoire to suit the particular occasion.  Here are my selections for two recent events.

International Women's Day  March 8
I enjoyed performing as part of the all girl lineup at the Tudor Artisan Hub at Carrick on Suir . My selection included The Coolin, Carolan Planxties, Edith Piaf' La Vie en Rose and Scubert's Ave Maria. It was wonderful to play with  composer and pianist Marion Ingoldsby. Marion played several of her own short pieces that reminded be of Satie's Gymnopedie. She  also played a charming piece by American composer Amy Beach











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St Patrick's Day. 17 March 
The beautiful Georgian Cathedral in Barronstrand Street Waterford has  a surprisingly warm acoustic  for such a large space. My selection on

Tuesday included  TC Kelly's arrangements of Irish airs  and Carolan pieces Volunme 2 as well as unaccompanied slow airs. traditional sacred air Bi Iosa im Chriosa and Céad Míle Failte and Ag Chriost and Siol by O'Riada .   As always it was a pleassure to play with cathedral organist, Cecilia Kehoe. Maith thú Cecilia!
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Yorkshire Folk: Reg Meuross at The Heeley Institute, Sheffield




Troubadour Reg Meuross with Jess Vincent in Sheffield

I have to confess to being a tad disappointed not to find the Wallace Hartley's violin on display at the Titanic Centre in Belfast. One of my favourite songs of Reg Meuross heard at The Heeley Institute in Sheffield was one which cast some light on the ill-fated bandleader's  violin strapped to the musician's chest and rescued from the icy seas. Meuross described seeing the violin in a Somerset auction house near his home before it was sold.

Reg Meuross had a gentle unassuming style that reminded me of Clifford T Ward but there was a bite to his eloquent songs  that referenced William Morris, Emily Davison, Tony Benn along with  more lighthearted fare.  A good raconteur he regaled us with self deprecating tales of his travels around the North of England folk clubs and set the context for his material with thoughtful softy spoken introductions.  For the latter part of his opening  set he was joined by Jess Vincent on various instruments.

The event was hosted by the Sheffield Committee to Defend Assylum Seeker's I am happy to report that the venue the venue was full and the audience responded warmly to the graceful troubadour and his accomplice.

 Listen to the first track of England Green and England and Grey here What Would William Morris Say  I note that the album features Chris Haigh on fiddle.

Read Martin Chiltons  ' 5 * review in the Daily Telegraph  here 

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I bought my love a violin so he could play for me

I bought my love a violin to calm the waves of a stormy sea

There are those who say Wallace Hartley played

‘Nearer my God to thee’

But our souls were bound as that great boat went down

And in my heart the band played ‘Sweet Marie’
What Would William Morris Say
Tony Benn's Tribute to Emily Davison
DRiver Rail and  Road
Counting My Footsteps
The Band Played Sweet Marie
Pirate Song 
Lovesick Johnny 
I Won't Fall Asleep without your love 
It's Me or Elvis
Related post Yorkshire Folk:  Royal Traditions at Dungworth http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2015/03/yorkshire-folk-royal-traditions-at.html







Music for Galway: BBC Music Mag Cuttings




An extract from my review appears in the print edition of this month's BBC Classical Music Magazine.   You can read the full review on their website here http://www.classical-music.com/you-review/you-review-music-galways-midwinter-festival

Director of 'Music for Galway', Finghin Collins has a number of recitals coming up this weekend with Hungarian cellist Istvan Vardai, who returns to Ireland after  recent appearances with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Details below

March 21st 2015 8.00pm
Castalia Hall, Ballytobin, Co. Kilkenny
March 22nd 2015 12 noon
Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane
March 24th 2015 8.00pm
HP, Ballybrit, Galway


Beethoven Sonata in A major Op. 69
Brahms Sonata in E minor OP. 38
De Falla Siete Canciones Espanolas
Shostakovich Cello Sonata Op. 40
with István Várdai cello 

István Várdai is a very exciting young Hungarian cellist who recently won first prize at the ARD Competition in Munich. These concerts are presented by Music in Kilkenny, Dublin City Gallery Sunday at Noon concerts and Music for Galway respectively.




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waterford New Music Week: Meet Sue Rynhart


Sue RynhartWaterford New Music Week is coming up all next week. I attended the launch and my preview piece is in the print version of the Irish Examiner today. More details on WNMW facebook page here

One of the emerging artists to feature is Sue Rynhart.  I enjoyed hearing Sue at a Kaleidoscope gig recently and she sent me this e interview ahead of her Waterford appearance. In 2014 she released a much admired debut album, Crossings with bassist Dan Bodwell which explored an intersection between jazz and contemporary music . Sue Rynhart will conduct a improvisation workshop as well as a daytime recital with bassist Andrew Csibi in Waterford City Library on Wednesday 25th March.

 New Music is a major feature of your work with many contemporary composers featuring in your repertoire. At what point did creating your own material become  significant ?.

About three years ago creating my own material became a significant part of my work. I had taken abreak from performing and focused on creating 

Who has influenced you most in arriving at your own individual style?
I think the music I have created is probably influenced on one hand by the music that I have performed; choral works from medieval to the present day, solo vocal repertoire including early music songs, Aria Antiquae, Lieder, atonal music, folk songs,  jazz standards & popular song and on the other hand music that I have listened to. I improvise regularly with vocalists Dorothy Murphy, and Tuula Voutilainen and this experience has certainly allowed me to become more confident and creative with my voice and musical ideas. 


In my music I can hear idioms of modes, scales and rhythm patterns that I have really internalized through practicing and I can certainly hear some odd meters that I am comfortable with through singing with Dylan Rynhart's Fuzzy Logic . So to name some major influences , I would say Byrd, Weelks, Tallis, Purcell, Dowland, Alban Berg, Tori Amos, Stina Nordenstam, Sinead O Connor, Gillian Welch, Public Image Limited, Orbital, Prince, Bobby McFerrin, Norma Winstone, Gentle Giant... I could go on and on.

What area was your post grad in?
I studied an MA in Historical Studies at NUI Maynooth under the direction of Dr, Patrick Devine and Dr Barra Boydell. Highlights were surveying information on music and entertainment in Irish newspapers from 1800's and transcribing Lute Tablature into modern staff notation. My thesis was on the secular songs of Sir Andrew Stevenson best known for his piano accompaniments for Thomas Moore's Melodies. Stevenson was a Lay Vicar Choral at Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, a post I also enjoyed when I completed my MA

Any future projects you'd like to flag?
Abigail Smith, a brilliant songwriter and composer recently released her album 'Fall into Silence' . I had the pleasure of singing backing vocals for her.

I sing on a regular basis with Dylan Rynhart's Fuzzy Logic Ensemble at Listen at the Wellington

I will be singing in an opera based on Finnegan's Wake by Sean MacErlaine 21st -14th May 

I am looking forward to being interviewed by Bernard Clarke forhis radio programme Nova on RTE Lyric FM in April to talk about my  album.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Unthanks at National Concert Hall

A quick google scan of The Unthanks threw up an image of two singing sisters under an English folk label. That should make for a pleasant mid-week evening’s entertainment, I thought. It was that and so much more as Rebecca and Rachel Unthank (yes- that is their real name) and their entourage  converted the grand auditorium and foyer of the NCH into a folk club with a set that combined the simplicity of  folksong with elegant skilled  arrangements. All that, pretty frocks and clog dancing too.  What more could you ask for!
The evening kicked off on a  manly note with The Miner’s song by Billy Bragg from the rousing voices of the YoungUn’s,  an acapella male  trio from Stockton on Tees.  In a change to the usual support act format, the young men in their Ireland debut opened each half with a short set.  (Festival promoters, snap them up. They were terrific and went down a treat with the full house at NCH.)
The ladies  arrived on stage accompanied by an impressive 8 piece band comprising a string quartet, bass, drums , trumpet and piano/auxilliary stuff . Dressed in pretty 50's style dresses, they had a air of quiet confidence rather than extrovert flamboyance. At the core were the songs, mostly on the melancholic nature ranging from imaginative versions of traditional songs  to re-workings of modern originals.  The vocal delivery was simple and unpretentious .  Each number sounded fresh and different from the other  due to the sophisticated arrangements drawing in  a range of techniques from contemporary classical and jazz idioms, largely the work of director and pianist Adrian McNally.  Long sustained  lines on trumpet,  biting dissonant harmonies  on strings, a shrutie box drone added to a sparse chordal piano scaffold,  were just some of the elements that added colour to the vocals at the heart, but never usurping them .  A familiar traditional song, Golden Slumbers sounded newly minted in McNally's  treatment
In a rare instrumental number,  reminiscent of Gerry Diver’s speech project,  fiddle player Niopha Keegan added her own slow air to a voice over of a recording of her father in a conversation with his musician  daughter  as a child. The second half moved to more modern material including re-workings of songs by King Crimson and Anthony and the Johnsons.
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Interval Chat 
The group worked hard both on stage and off as they assembled in the foyer in the interval and after the show to greet their fans. The audience were not, I suspect, a download generation and long lines formed to take home a signed recording. Their fairly hectic schedule takes them to a different city almost  each day over a two week tour , I marvelled  not only at the excellence of the musicianship but also  their energy and cheerfulness as they  greeted  many ardent fans. When the audience leapt to their feet with alacrity to show their appreciation to the Unthanks and their splendid team, it seemed like everything else during the evening; natural and unforced.

*****

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sister Act: Suor Angelica at The Abbey

It is decades since I was at the Abbey.  The brick and concrete exterior seemed even drabber and drearier than I remembered. Arriving at the studio space, the Peacock Theatre in the basement had the feel of descending  into a bunker.  However, once the curtain  went up on Suor Angelica, all such misgivings disappeared as the young performers of the RIAM drew us into the tragic world of  Pucccini' s Angelica, a young aristocrat  banished to a convent on the birth of her illegitimate son. The production by Lir Academy sets the story in a Magdalene laundry with a resonance in 50's Ireland.

Opening with muted strings, the 12 piece orchestra under conductor Andrew Synott, sited in one of the wings were excellent  and all the nuances of timbre were clearly heard. In the absence of double bass, Sarah Lockart was an assertive anchor and there was fine virtuoso playing from Miriam Kaczor on flute and piccolo.
  The singing from the nearly all female cast  was excellent.  Rebecca Rogers brought out all the pathos  in the title role  and Carolyn Holt as Angelica's stony  aunt gave good dramatic account of her roles. Sara di Bella brought a nicely done,m comic element to Sr Genevieffa .

The buzz continued in the bar for some time post show as the patrons  gathered to greet the young performers. There were many leading lights from the arts world including Dr Veronica Dunne, grand dame of Irish Opera scene.

You can get a flavour of the evening in my post show interview with Rebecca Rodgers in the audioboo below.




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Monday, March 2, 2015

Comedy Cartel at Phil Grimes Pub Waterford



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Comedy clubs were in vogue when I lived in London in the mid eighties. Every neighbourhood pub and wine bar from middle class suburbia to working class stronghold hosted a night of stand up and novelty acts. Comedy doesn't seem to be a very common feature of the local entertainment scene,  so when my local pub advertised a comedy  evening, I didn't need too much arm twisting to go along to an evening of assorted comic turns all washed down with the excellent house craft beer selection.

Displaying 20150226_234052.jpgKonor Halpin stalwart of the local comedy scene acted as anchor and opened the procedings, Dermot Sullivan drew on his memories of rural childhood and juvenile hurling  experience in a style reminiscent of Pat Shortt.  The duo evoked memories of Hall's Pictorial Weekly parodying political figures. Dixy Conway dwelt on the trials of fatherhood and this and that. Tony Black, spoof hynotist  ventriloquist, (who I think is Cork based was very slick and James Ryan  did extraordinary things with a hammer and screwdriver even if we couldn't bring ourselves to watch. I left out one, a young farming type had a go.

 Not all of was brilliant but it wasn't bad at all.Unusually it didn't rely on saying certain local slang words in a Waterford accent for a laugh.  I enjoyed it  and laughed a lot. What more could you ask . Admission was little more than the price of a pint.

The intimate venue wasn't packed,  it has to be said - undeservedly so   I might even work on my own 'grumpy old woman' rant for a future night.

Next Comedy Cartel evening is Thursday 12th March
Phil Grimes Pub John St Waterford

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Tony Black Ventiloquist

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Enjoyed this related post https://nopunchline.wordpress.com/tag/waterford/

Sunday, March 1, 2015

ICMA Sacred Music Workshop Waterford

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ICMA Workshop at St John's Waterford


 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!


Psalm 150
Today, I attended a choral workshop in Waterford organised by the Irish Church Music Association, a resource organisation supporting liturgical music in parishes.  Fr Turlough Baxter, chairman of the ICMA  with Derek Mahady, choral director  addressed  a gathering drawn from parish choirs around the Waterford and Lismore dioceses. Setting a brisk pace, Mahady put the assembly through some lively vocal warm ups before introducing  a varied  selection of work by contemporary Irish composers,  Even though we got through a lot of material, there was time too for detailed technical stuff like phrasing, breath control and diction.   Baxter gave context for how the material might best be used and  spoke eloquently about the role of ritual and music in liturgy. A Matins Service was an integral part of the day's proceedings. It would be good to see Matins and Vespers introduced into regular parish services.

The combination a skilfull choral workout with thoughtful insights into the role of music in a liturgical context made for a stimulating and rewarding experience well directed by the duo  and coordinated  by Mary Dee.

More details of the Irish Church Music Association and their summer school can be found on their website http://www.irishchurchmusicassociation.com/uploads/7/4/1/3/7413445/icma_newsletter_feb_2015_(4).pdf



 Ephram Feeley         Here in Christ We Gather
                             Lord You are my Shepherd
                             Psalm 122  I Rejoiced 
                             God of Gentleness
                             I Am the Breadof Life 
                              In the Shadow of Your Wings Lord 
                             My New Commandment
Marie Dunne           Lúireach Phadraig 
Mary McDonnell      A Bhríd, a Muire na nGael
Bernard Sexton       Credo in Unam Deum
                               Sanctus 
                               Memorial Acclamation
                               Shepherd Song
                               Laudate Omnes Gentes 
Peter O Kane  
    arr John O Keeffe   Search Me, On God 
O Keeffe                    The Apostles Creed 
Paul Flynn                 A Uain Dé
Lawton                      Holy Ground 
Joncas                        Draw Near 
Walsh arr Mackriell   I Will Bless Your Name Forever
John McCann           God's Holy People 

Ronan McDonagh    A Íosa Mhic Muire  Instrumental