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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Traditional Irish Night Bunratty

A large group of ICA ladies from Ballinlough Cork made for a lively audience at Traditional Irish Night in Bunratty tonight. The show is looking good . A new dancer Mark Nestor did very well and always a pleasure to hear Brian Flynn work a crowd

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fleadh Nua Ennis Riches of Clare Lunchtime concert

The Fleadh Nua is in full swing in Ennis this week. I went along to the 'Riches of Clare' lunchtime series in the Council office at the museum. There was a full house . The group, two fiddles, piano and accordion played a selection of dance music punctuated by a few songs from two gentlemen in the audience.

The organisation of the event was impressive. Details published in advance , a regular lunchtime slot and a large attractive banner. The venue is awkward , up two flights and hard to move in and out of . Nipping out half way through is not aboption. I find it a bit tedious to listen to a lot of dance music without accompanying feet and don't understand why groups in this setting don't include an accasional air to break it up a bit

Monday, May 17, 2010

school string projects

I am currently putting together a proposal for an innovative school string group project which aims to move instrumental tuition from the realm of the extracurricular and place it firmly on the classroom curriculum as I have a number of meetings with schools over the next few weeks.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flat Brass!

The Irish Asoociation of Bands and Concert Bands took place in University Concert Hall Limerick recently .This is not a scene I am familiar with but it appeared to have all the ingredients to make for a wonderful and exciting afternoons entertainment; premier venue and loads of superb musicians young and old, attractive repertoire played superbly . Why then did I feel the whole was not the sum of its parts and the elements did not combine to produce the sort of excitement I anticipated .

To begin with, the catering arrangements at UCH seemed somewhat below par with not much on offer at the self service set up. The coffee was overpriced and not very good

I attended a junior and senior class competion The Junior Bands were very impressive . I have to admit that junior wind and brass groups make a more satisfying sound than junior string groups usually do. The hall was rather sparsely filled for both competitions. The competion compere certainly did nothing to contribute to a sense of razzmatazz by her casual atire. Part of her podium duties seemed to involve her looking pointedly at the clock and anxiously on as the bands endeavoured to seat themselves as quickly as possible.

There was some superb playing in the senior competition with the best performance for my money given by Barrack Street Brass and Reed Band from Waterford

I was surprised the bands were not introduced only by calling of a letter. The purchase of a programme for €3 was required to find out who was playing . It is the little things that irk one

Such a confluence of musical elements demanded greater coverage. There may have been some coverage locally but certainly I saw nothing in the national media and even though I consider myself to be au fait with musical matters I would not have been aware of the event unless I had a family member involved. I think this is a great opportunity missed and I think with a concerted effort, the event should have received more attention. Was there anything on Lyric ?. I am sure they would have been able to provide a suitable presenter.

Outside of the major cities many people’s only access to any form of musical raining is through the local band. Bands provide more low cost access to an ensemble experience for many musicians. This is certainly the case in Ennis. Bands have a higher profile than orchestras in towns because logistically they get out and march around every now and then .

While the venue was very comfortable it is somewhat isolated and not conducive to attracting a passing crowd.

Get a sponsor. Not easy I imagine in the current financial climate
Demand more coverage in local and national press, on Lyric and local radio
Invite lots of groups to make up the audience create more of an atmosphere
Hold it in centre of a medium sized town . Ennis is good size but maybe not geographically convenient.
Get representative group from different bands to give short performances outside of the hall to create a buzz around the event. It would have been nice to hear a brass quartet play in the foyer for instance.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ennis Singers' Club

Following the very entertaining theatrical piece based on the unusual life story of Johnny Patterson, circus performer and writer of ballads given by Barrabas Theatre Co. in Glor we made our way to Cois Na hAbhna to join the gathering for this month's meeting. The guest this month was John Quinn from Kilnaboy whose clear voice ranged through a selection of Irish and scottish songs, my favourite being Bheir Mé Ó . I was intrigued to read he was a member of a plainchant choir based in Corofin. I chatted with All Ireland Fleadh winner on harmonica Pauline Gavin Callinan about her new CD of harmonica duets. This is my second visit to this group and I enjoyed it and contributed myself on viola as I can only remember one verse of anything and wouldnt pass the Karaoke Rule

Guest Spot Clare Three legged Stool Poets

This afternoon I was delighted to be invited to be guest musician at the monthly gathering in Glor of the Clare Three-Legged Stool Poets. One of the special guests was poet Brendan O Beirne, a prolific writer who read movingly from several of his many volumes. There were contributions from the floor at the open mic with a very interesting performance from Patrick Stack who added an oboe to the sound effects for his dramatic contribution. I interspersed the spoken word with selections of Irish airs, beginning with the Coolin and closing with a medley of tunes used for settings of poems by 20th century Irish poem . Fred Johnstons' accompaniment was very sympathetic no more so than in Jay Ungar's Ashoken Farewell . Limerick based poet Dominic Taylor also guested and read from his sometimes very humourous work

A visit to the group is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Again I was struck by the sense of collegiality among the poets . The group resumes on the third Saturday in September and anyone is free to come along at any stage in the afternoon and leave at any point. It is not mandatory to contribute from your own work

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lunchtime Limerick Piano Green at St Mary's

Arabesque Op 18 Schumann
Prelude no 13 in F#major Frederic Chopin
Polonaise in C#minor op 26 no 1 "
Study in C# minor op 25 no 7 "
Polonaise in A major op 40 no 1 "
Cantos de Espana no 4 Cordoba Albeniz
Prelude Foxtrot Martinu

A large crowd gathered in St. Mary's Cathedral in Limerick to hear well known stalwart of the local musical scene, Malcolm Green, give his first piano recital in 15 years. My guest Sr. Anne Considine and I travelled from Ennis for the occasion and we were not disappointed .
The soloist delivered an attractive programme of works by Schumann, Chopin and Albeniz . The spoken introductions and a little poetry added much to the enjoyment of the occasion and the performer seemed to relish the sound range of the instrument in the accoustic of the vaulted space, delivering the programme with vigour balanced with tenderness, the latter quality perhaps most evident in the Chopin study while the former clearly demonstrated in the polonaises. T
The recital will I believe remain in our memories as a special musical offering and a generous contribution to the musical life of Limerick this year. Anne claimed her arthritis was much eased by healing power of Malcolm's playing. Powerful stuff indeed!