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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Roundup of a busy week

 Wife to James Whelan Garter Lane
Tales of Hoffmann: Omniplex Cinema. Waterford
Travel Awards German Travel Writers
Cormac Keveney Quartet at JJ's
Chamber Choir Ireland Bachiana
Sunday Lifetime Achievement Award: Vanbrugh  at NCH
RIP Billy McCarthy

Wife to James Whelan: Co production with WIT and Garter Lane Arts Centre.

 I have to admit that the name Teresa Deevy was unfamiliar to me although I was aware that a blue plaque had been unveiled in recent years and that she was a playwright from Waterford. Dayna KIlian's notes made interesting reading. Born in 1894 in Waterford, the youngest of thirteen children, Her writing was much encouraged at home and at school and she was a college girl, switching from UCD to UCC when she became deaf. She moved to London and quite extraordinarily she taught herself to lipread by genning up on scripts and watching them on stage. She wrote prolifically for the Abbey until she fell out of favour with a new board under Ernest Blythe. An extraordinary life story. The notes tell us that Sean Dunne, the Waterford poet  made an effort to locate a copy of the script by placing an ad in the Irish Times in 1984. The play had not been published and no copy could be found. Eventually a copy was found in the family home  The play was published in 1995 and a production ran at the Mint Theatre in New York that specializes in mounting productions of neglected scripts.

The  eight strong cast gave a good account of it and and the 1930's period was nicely evoked in Blanaid McCann's costumes.
In Tully's Bar (great to have this watering hole back in business for post show discussions) I met Bill Deevy gand nephew of Teresa Deevy who spoke of his father being charged with his aunt's archive which was kept at the family home until being donated to Maynooth Library where it remains accessible for students to consult.  Further evidence of Waterford's strong literary tradition.

Live Screening /Tales of Hoffmann:  came live from the Royal Opera House. I saw it in the Omniplex in Waterford  which was very comfortable with good surround sound effects. The production was a revival of a smashing production by John Slessinger, the film director. Particularly enjoyed Christine Rice as Guilietta

German Travel Writers' Awards: Congratulation to Arun Brazil of the Irish Sun who won the 1st prize for a second year at the German Travel writers Awards held at the Cafeen Seine . Congratulations to Caroline Doherty of the Irish Examiner who took third prize for her piece on Dusseldorf.

Choral Concert Chamber Choir Ireland came to St Patrick's Gateway with a programme of mostly Bach. There event fell short of expectation for a number of reasons.
I missed the opening remarks and the rest of the hour long programme was presented with no note of context either spoken or in the printed programme which did have the full texts. I felt the sound of the violone and organ sounded very rich and pleasant in the acoustic of the small scale church. and it would have been nice to hear a solo item from Mr Earley .
Feedback suggested that the programme was a bit on the short side. Not for me I am quite happy with one good   hour of anything.  However, I do like to have a little chat with the performers after the show. What a shame that despite the early finish at 8.45pm or so, members of the choir beat a hasty retreat back to Dublin.

NCH  Lifetime Achievenent Award for the Vanbrugh:

It was bitterly cold as I  made a round trip to Dublin for an event at NCH at which  the Vanbrugh Quartet were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. For the evening they had assembled some friends to play some favorite repertoire.  There was splendid Brahms with Michael Collins. Hugh Tinney made light of the tricky Schubert Trout variations.  Chi-chi Nwanoku looking fabulous in bright red top spoke movingly about coming to play in the home of her Irish mother after fifty years of living in the UK.   Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affairs did the honours and struck just the right night of humour and gravitas in bestowing the awards. You can read my preview piece for The Irish Examiner here.

Adieu JJ Smyth's

Cormac Keveney is a fine  jazz singer. I heard him for the first time on Thursday at JJ Smyth's in Aungier Street. Accompanied by Damien Evans on bass, Johnny Taylor on piano and Dominic Mullan on drums. Keveney has an understated platform presence and the mood was easy and mellow in an eclectic set. I liked his version of Paul Simon's Train in the Distance. I enjoyed chatting to bassist Damien Evans who hails from Australia. We aklso met Chris Keveney, Cormac's proud dad who is himself a jazz musician. You can catch him playing at the Kilkenny Shop on Sunday mornings.  Check him out for yourself here

I was somewhat taken aback to hear that the venue is apparently close to changing hands and it seems that jazz may move to an alternative venue in future. We always get a cheerful greeting from Spanner the doorman who has presided over the upper room at JJ's for as long as I can remember .

RIP Billy McCarthy. Billly
Like everyone in Waterford, I was shocked at the untimely passing of WLR broadcaster Billy McCarthy. I never met him but I did go along to see him in action at a live broadcast and I recorded this note on this blogpost.

Can it really be 17 years since the Bluegrass Festival weekend was inaugurated in Dunmore East. In honour of the occasion, WLR stalwart Billy McCarthy conducted his morning radio show from Azurro Restaurant in the South Eastern fishing village. Having connections here , I listened with keener interest than usual to this mid morning broadcast and indeed went along to watch the final segment of the programme being recorded . Producer Jennifer Long assembled a delightfully diverse range of genuinely local voices to broadcast on the ether on a gloriously sunny morning. Many of them familiar, they included local restauranteurs, a publican, Tidy Town folk, a lifeboat man, local history experts, singers, bluegrass musicians , divas and sailors and a celebrity chef. McCarthy's easy and understated interviewing style concealed what a consummate performer he is. It was a refreshing change to have a morning show presenter who does not use guests as a foil for his own witticisms . McCarthy knew many of his guests which added a depth to his dialogues but he drew interesting information from all his relaxed interviewees."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Imagine Festival: My Roundup of Festival Highlights

The Imagine Festival taking place on my doorstep in my home town remains one of my favourite  festivals. While an excellent PR effort makes a decent  to attract visitors, it is primarily aimed at the local audience and there is a good blend of contributors drawn  from the local pool and the wider arts fraternity.
In the classical music strand, the Vanbrugh Quartet brought composer Ian Wilson with them on their visit to the Large Room. His work Línte was dedicated to Gregory Ellis who is stepping down as leader. A Shostakovich quartet was the highlight of a programme including works by Haydn and Beethoven. The Vanbrugh played with their customary élan and skill and although they will be missed, we look forward to seeing members in new configurations. 
Later that evening Kate Daniels the mood was mellow at Phil Grimes  brought an eclectic set list  to a jazzy evening at Phil Grimes upstairts room. Her quartet included Imagine chairman Nick Bankes on bass and Jackie Burke on violin. Dylan, Piazzola and the back story to Bei mir Bist Du Shein were all in the mix.
There were several things I loved about the set up for the  Waterford Dramatic Soc. evening at the Vinatge Parlour room.  Not least was the cabaret style seating where you can sip mulled wine and eat cake throughout the proceedings.  The second thing I liked was  the  presence of a  hostess. Mistress of the Tea Rooms, Sarah Jane Hanton was on hand to meet and greet guests something lacking in most Waterford arts venues I liked the surround sound aspect where readers positioned themselves around the elegant period reception room engulfing their audience. Among the readers were the distinctive voice of Denise Quinn. Clodagh and Winnie Power, Bertie Rodgers and Toby and Ann Hickey just some of the contributers reading a selection of readings, poetry and song on a 1916 theme. 

Opera has been in the news recently with Irish singers kicking up something of a fuss on radio and newspapers about the paucity of opera in Dublin. Wexford was in full swing but it wasn't the only opera hot spot in the south east. Composer / librettist team Eric Sweeney and Mark Roper presented their second operatic venture. The Green One. The Gothic plot was a Middle Eastern  variation on the creation myth of Persephone and Demeter with the Green One , a mortal boy torn between two sibling goddesses.  I liked the use of dimmed lighting to create a theatrical mood. A flavour of Roper's elegant verse, well crafted verse  here.

The sun in my eye, rain on my skin,
Smell of rose, jasmine, cinnamon.
Taste of an apple, wind in the pine.
Bread, music, leaves, honey, wine  Mark Roper

Booze Blaas and Banter was yet again a convivial morning gathering of words, music on a maritime theme fueled with beer and breakfast. It will have to have it's own post I was delighted to contribute myself with some airs associated with boat songs. Thanks to Paul Diullon for accompanying me. I  will have to post a fuller account in a separate post.

In other events, I enjoyed listening to Declan Hughs and Alan Glynn chatting about Raymond Chandler who spent childhood summers in Waterford. Amber and the Bear brought an unamplified honest to goodness Dixieland jazz set to Grimes bar and Waterford City Brass recreated the Hofbrauhaus vibe in Downes Bar.

Tues Art Exhibtion Bay Tree
Launch Greyfriars  Vanbrugh Quartet  Large Room Kate Daniels at Phil Grimes  
WDS Readings from the Rising Soirée Hanton  host  Art Exhibition
Downes Beer Fest
Amber  and the Bear Jazz at Grimes
Sunday Declan Hughs Crime writer Ian Glynn Chandler
Vincent Woods cancelled
Weds/ Thur Werxford
Opera The Green One / Malojan

Booze Blaas Banter