Although I have travelled far in pursuit of excellent arts events, some of the best events were right on my doorstep in Clare. Here is my personal selection of the highlights of 2011. Click on the highlighted text for my review.
Best Opera Dublin Youth Opera Co. Jukebox Opera
A company of teenage opera singers at Ennis Friary (including Ennis native Ruth Kelly) were stunning in their Jukebox opera , Thicker than Water
Best Blues Johnny Fean House Shakers Blues.
Well ok. I didn't hear very much blues and I am not particularly a fan but I enjoyed this gig at Shannon . In fact I heard Fean twice in 2011, the second gig with bass player Stephen Travers. If anyone could make a case for the Blues, Johnny Fean could. Catch him at his Limerick gigs
Best Trad Gig Zoe Conway John McIntyre at SMB Folk Club
A pleasure to hear unamplified music of any genre but Zoe and John McIntyre were charming at the Courthouse as guests of the Sixmilebridge Folk Club. Superb violin technique and charming songs and a mix of genres with sympathetic guitar accompaniment. An accoustic delight.
|Zoe Conway, John Mc|
Best Ensemble: Cornets by candlelight Ennis Brass Band
Vladimir Jablokov brought his quintet to Glor as part of the Classical Twist tour and was my favourite small ensemble of the year
There is something thrilling about the sound of brass instruments en masse and the Ennis Brass Band are a super enesemble. Even if they were only half as good they would still be my pick. I admire very much their sense of civic duty and they remain an honest to goodness marching band getting out in all weathers to cheer Ennis folk. Listen back to the post concert interview with PRO Darragh McAllister in my report. I was very proud to be a guest performer at their 40 th celebration concert. Long may they prosper.
Peegy Seeger , a living legend was simply extraordinary at the Courthouse as a guest of Sixmilebridge Folk Club. Witty, charming and playing a fascinating collection of instruments.
|Colaiste Muire Choi|
Colaiste Muire Choir director Carmel Griffin Vivaldi Gloria
Best Musical Moment.
Cornet player, Clodagh Power's playing of the Last Post at the Remembrance Day Service at Ennis Cathedral evoked better than any spoken words the tragedy of Clare's war victims.
|Emmis Brass Band , Clodagh Power.|
Best Audience All Ireland One Act Drama Finals. Ennis Players hosted this very successful niche festival and did us proud. Great also to see Glor full for the weekend
Druid Big Maggie. As part of the 10year anniversary celebrations, Druid brought their highly successful production of Big Maggie to a packed house at Glor.
|MD Martin Moloney|
The Dinan School Annual Show Over the Rainbow was bright, cheery and colourful. T'would make you want to take up dancing, - now where did I put those tap shoes
Ennis Book Club Festival
Ennis is very suitable festival town and there were several contenders for best festival with two excellent trad festivals, Fleadh Nua and Ennis Trad Festival and the brilliant Winter Music Weekend nearby at Sixmilebridge. The Book Club Festival committee continue to run a brilliant niche festival in March bringing top class writers and poets to our doorsteps to savour the written word. For clarity of purpose and excellent administration as well as excellent events,the Ennis Book Club Festival is my prize winner this year.
Christy McNamara's striking black and white images of vanishing Ireland can be seen in various locations in Clare. A collection of his work on the theme of music and musicians made a perfect backdrop to live music events at the Courthouse, Sixmilebridge during the Winter Music Weekend. Best of all you can peruse Christy's work during the interval while partaking of tea and Ahern's excellent porter cake.