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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mario Lanza Tribute at UCH with Jablokov

Tenor Sean Costello with Mrs Hanrahan and pals at UCH
We had heard good things about this tribute show to iconic singing star of the silver screen.  The format consisted of a  prerecorded narrative   relating the singer's life story  punctuated with solos and duets  from soloists Sean Costello, Niall Morris and Sandra Oman accompanied by a chamber ensemble lead by violinist  Vladimir Jablokov.  A slide show of photographs were digitally projected onto a screen backdrop and added an interesting dimension  to the vocals

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clare Poets November Remembrance with Kevin Higgins & Julie Feeney

Kevin Higgins

I note that it is the third Saturday of the month which means it is Clare Poets afternoon. I  am surprised to see  songstress Julie Feeney is  listed as the guest artist Surely some mistake.  My twitter updates suggest that she is probably winging her way across the Atlantic following her US tour but Julie duly arrives hotfoot from the airport  ready to perform at the monthly gathering of Clare  poets at Glór Foyer in Ennis  .  The procedings kick off with guest poet Kevin Higgins reading from his new collection .  His satirical  poems have a wry humour and there is an AA Milne ring to a poem dedicated to protesting students with its recurring lines  'who made their point politely and then went home'  probably to watch Countdown (my words not the poet's).
With the MC's lack of familiarity with the guest artist's work I am called upon to give a late  introduction. If only I had known I would have prepared better. 
 Julie, looking every  inch the star performer in high heeled red patent leather shoes which doubled as  percussion instrument and her trademark quirky millinery, punctuated procedings with a selection of numbers from her Pages and 13 Songs albums to her own piano accompaniment. With no trace of jet lag in her voice she performed for the select gathering with as much intensity  as if it had been a packed auditorium ; a consummate professional  .  The late Brecan Mooney was  remembered and  Brian Mooney his father,  read a poem dedicated to his son's memory.
The open mic follows with  MC Patrick Stack, Johhny Culliney , Jean Kavanagh, Noel Mulqueen , Fred Johnston (accompanied by his dog) and Arthur Watson contributing . I loved Arthur's performance of the Karaoke Blues . I must look up the Portsmouth Sinfonia  he referred to in his introduction. It sounds like my kind of band .
A very special afternoon in Ennis with the Clare Poets .

Julie's selection
Mr Rovin Eye Guy
Scots Gallic number
You take the Wind Out of My sails
You're Impossibly  Beautiful
With Innocent Hearts and Expectant Faces/Knock Knock

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marion Ingoldsby PDST workshop

 I attended  a workshop aimed at  developing  the creative use of  singing in the classroom  scheduled at the new Academy of  Music Building at UL . Although the evening was foul, I set off and was just in time to hear Steve McFarlane and Anne Barry deliver an excellent workshop based on specially commissioned songs by Marion Ingoldsby and  introduced by Professor Mícheál  O Suilleabhain . The songs are charming  based on nursery rhymes and verses by Christina Rosetti and could work well  with senior primary  and post primary students . Anne demonstrated suitable teaching strategies including vocal warm ups, body percussion and  Curwen hand gestures  to a large attendance .  It is always a pleasure to listen to highly competent teachers  and communicators clearly passionate about their topic and eager to share their skills. It was good to meet Carol Daly and Martin Barrett of Co. Cork VEC and Sharon Brooks of Shannon Comprehensive .


Gadding about during the Ennis Trad Festival 2010

Ennis Trad Festival brought a welcome  influx of musicians  and punters to the town last weekend. 

On Friday, I looked in to the Old Gound were there was a pleasant buzz of anticpation with visitors toting instruments of various shapes were checking in. On Saturday ,  I had lunch in the packed  Rowan Tree with my cousins Anne and Helen White   We  met chanteuse, Siofra Brock daughter of Paul  and   star of the West End  , Helen Ball, dining with husband Lorcan and baby.   Looking into Queens Bar there is a flurry of flautists and other assorted musicians  tootling  merrily away . On O Connell Street  dodging the heavy showers, I meet  travelling poet James Anthony Kelly and buy a copy of his poetry volume Porter and Emotion described as 'A vast diverse and varied collection'  . How could you resist.  I find it  somehow reassuring  that we still have travelling bards in Ireland .

Travelling Bard James A Kelly
 In Glór, I am just in time  to watch  the hapless presenter attempting to round up representatives of the runner ups who seemed reluctant to  collect their prizes and eventually  the winners ,  the Tulla Road  Ceili Band (not to be confused with the Tulla Ceili Band) are  eventually  shepherded  on stage to perform their valedictory set.  While some of the punters in my vicinity had selected them, there was quite a few who felt Corofin Ceili Band also deserved the crown but there was a spirit of general good humour generally about the procedings  and no one seemed to feel too hard done by.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Witches and Pirates at Waterford International Music Festival

Theatre Royal lobby

Malcolm Proud

 Following fast on the heels of the Imagine Arts Festival, my home town Waterford cements its reputation as a good town for music and arts  with the  welcome return after  a two year absence of  the annual celebration of musical theatre, the Waterford International Light Opera Festival. Now  in its' 50th year,  rebranded as Waterford International Music Festival and incorporating not only shows at the magnificently refurbished Theatre Royal but also a fringe festival including the all pervasive gospel choirs,  concerts and a school musical section .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vladimir Violinist Extraordinaire - upstairs at Dolans Limerick

It was a pub gig with a  classical twist, upstairs at Dolan's in Limerick tonight.  A salon ensemble of players , bass, piano, viola, violin  and drums  backed front man Vladimir Jablokov in  an eclectic set  mixing several genres but infused throughout by elements of fine virtuoso technique and showmanship.

Opening with a number which fused theme from James Bond with Mozart's Rondo a la Turk, Vladimir and  the  band breezed through Strauss waltzes and polkas, Hungarian dances, jazz standards , show tunes and classical standards with great panache and good humour, the band seeming to enjoy playing together .   We particularly enjoyed their take on Bowie's Life on Mars and Van Morrison's Moondance , in splendid arrangements by keyboard player, Adam Kuruc  . The amplification was subtle, not overpowering and the string sound was fairly true to the unplugged sound.  This is rare in my experience and well done to sound man Sean Harold .

The  venue is intimate and suits smaller gatherings and while not packed to capacity, there was enough to create an atmosphere .

The lead man Vladimir Jablokov is a great live performer with a charming  air  of  a Bohemian  Waltz King about him. He appears to be fused to his instrument, the violin being merely an extension of himself and he plays with such exuberance, you could not but be entertained by him.  A great night .  I hope the tour is successful for them and we see them around again next year. Bravo!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mass for Bereaved at Ennis Cathedral

The annual  Mass for bereaved families was offered last night in Ennis Cathedral.  The sense grief is palpable and it is a very important liturgical event and one I have been priviliged to be invited to contribute to in ther last two years .  Fr. Tom Hogan somehow finds words to add balm to sorrow and  on such occasions I reach no further than our slow air tradition and my selection included  Ag Chriost an Siol, Airdi Cuan, My Lagan love, Sliabh na mBan, An Coolin, Mo Gile Mear and Ban Chnoic Eirinn O.  Cantor was Tony Murray and organist Mary Curley,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Independent Music Clubs Clare; Sean Tyrrell / Kevin Burke


  It has been a week for opera in  various forms and I am just back from Sean Tyrrell's unique traditional opera  setting of 'The Midnight Court'  at the  Frank Hayes' Island Music Club  at the Highway Inn in Crusheen. I think this is one of the most successful one man shows I have seen, both entertaining and thought provoking.  Based on the poem by Brian Merriman in a translation by David Marcus, it is an account of the age old  battle of the sexes, told  in  bawdy verse form and set to music by Tyrrell himself  in a trad' idiom.  The show opened with the spoken word but was mostly related in song to mandola accompaniment.  Although several hundred years old there were many resonances  with modern day Ireland  making it seem very  current. 

Sean Tyrrell in The Midnight Court

One was immediately struck on entering the intimate space that is the backroom of The Highway Inn by the theatrical props of masks, hats and puppets and considerable care had gone in to dressing the windows in lights and  crimson chiffon.  The use of masks to portray the hag and Queen Aeval lent an air of Greek drama and  the plot has some resonance with  the battle of the sexes in Euripides' Lysistrata.

There was something of a festival atmosphere in the Highway Inn this evening as the GAA  Crusheen  Junior A team had won a match  adding to the success of Crusheen GAA  in recent weeks  and the team were in to accept plaudits all adding to the general hurly burly of Saturday night. It was a shame that the venue was not packed to capacity as this show deserved to draw a larger audience.