Compánach concert show at Ranelagh Arts Festival, Sept. 18th

A
companach-n1An intimate, experimental audio-visual recital of music and song which brings alive the nature, scope and history of Irish Traditional music as developed in the book, ebook and website Companion to Irish Traditional Music. A work in progress, this had an inaugural performance at the major French summer school of Irish music in Tocane, summer 2012. It was staged in its present form at Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, and at The Leuven Institute for Ireland, Leuven, Belgium in December, 2013.

Compánach is a fast-moving concert of great variety with fiddle, uilleann pipes, flute, sean-nós step dance and vocals. In a hundred tracks of music and song from Irish regions it demonstrates Irish music’s hallmark repertoire and style. The playing is infused with information, context and warmth by a flow of 400 full-screen photographic images of people, places and events.

Background

The Companion to Irish Traditional Music is an encyclopedia first published in 1999 to alphabetically document the nature and performance of indigenous Irish music. It was re-issued in 2011, doubled in size with c. 900 pages, and also as an e-book. The Compánach concert is based on its content, taking its A-Z format to illustrate tunes and song drawn from each Irish county, émigré region and ancient to modern eras. Over its two hours it uses the voices of solo, and unison duet and trio instruments, step dance, song in Irish and English, and large-scale photos to creatively document Irish Traditional music.

The visual motif for the concert is the Companion’s cover image – a profound painting by the Irish artist Daniel Maclise of an 1832 Halloween party in Co. Cork. In vivid colour, this depicts all the elements of Irish music traditions – the piper, fiddler and flute player, the boy with the tambourine, the young learners, the dancers – all performing in an animated community celebration. Present in this image too are symbolically-important figures: one of the earliest folklorists – Thomas Crofton Croker – and an early antiquarian – Fr. Matthew Horgan – both of them contributors to the philosophy which energised the 20th-century revival of Irish Traditional music. Compánach indeed takes all its aesthetic cues from this painting by using pipes, fiddle and flute, by opening with music collected by Rev. Goodman which is likely to have been played on that night in 1832, and by using the power of a visual narrative rather than commentary to tell the music’s story.

The artistes

Gerry O’Connor is a Dundalk fiddler, a versatile figure in Irish music who is solidly ‘of his place’ in the music’s traditions. He has toured Europe solo and with the band Skylark, and has many recordings, among them the seminal albums of Lá Lugh with the haunting singer Eithne Ní Uallacháin; he has also taught fiddle internationally over several decades.

Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn is an uilleann piper from Monaghan who has achieved all major Irish awards for his playing, most recently the Seán Ó Riada gold medal.

Máire Ní Choilm is, a Gaelic singer from Gaoth Dobhair, the Irish-language region of Donegal; her repertoire and style are distinctively of her place too and have also gained her major Oireachtas awards.

Sibéal Davitt comes from a background of Irish language and music and is an accomplished student of dance as well as being a superb sean-nós (old-style, free-form) step dancer.

Fintan Vallely, editor of the Companion and director of the show, plays the wooden concert flute. He has been one of the major public voices in Irish music since the early 1990s, the editor of many books and articles on it; like the others, he has performed throughout the world and has recorded and broadcast.

Jacques Piraprez Nutan is an award-winning Belgian photographer who was a neighbour and protégé of surrealist painter Renée Magritte. He has made the west of Ireland his home, and Irish topography, people and music his life’s work since the 1960s. A member of the Paris agency RAPHO, he has published in Time, Stern, National Geographic, and Geo, and has contributed music images to many music books and albums in Ireland.

China meets Ireland – Chinese New Year concerts of Traditional and new Irish and Chinese music

China Meets Ireland Concert 2014 - PosterChina Meets Ireland is an inter-cultural programme presenting two poles of Chinese and Irish musics featuring traditional Chinese music from a thousand year tradition and new music from China written in the past 10 years. Ireland’s rich heritage of traditional music is presented with old airs and dance tunes on Fiddle and Flute by Gerry O’Connor and Fintan Vallely, Irish Harp with Annemarie O’Farrell, and John Feely, Guitar.

New Irish music is represented by John Buckley’s work I Am Wind On Sea for solo voice, and a selection from A GIRL by Seoirse Bodley with poetry by Brendan Kennelly.

A new work by the Chinese composer Zhao Xi using similar ancient Chinese and old Irish poetry, voice, piano and Gu Zheng will be premiered.

Two special concerts will take place:

Date Event and Venue Booking
Thu, 29 May, 1.15pm Small lunch time concert, St. Ann´s Church Contact 01-6767727 or stannschurch@eircom.net
Sat, 31 May, 7.00pm Main concert, St. Patrick´s Cathedral

A Complete Guide to Learning the Irish Flute

The Irish Flute by Fintan VallelyMusic and tunes for the wooden concert flute · New flute tutor by Fintan Vallely

Including the basics of playing traditional music and a selection of over 100 tunes for all instruments.

A unique visual and descriptive ‘method’ for all levels of learning and playing on the keyed and unkeyed ‘Irish’ wooden flutes. Tried and tested, this is a greatly expanded and improved update of the very first Irish flute tutor which was published in 1986. Its 136 pages are packed with background information and suitable for all from the most basic to the most advanced levels. The book covers breathing and ornamentation techniques, has a hundred and five notated tunes and a companion CDs with 180 tracks of tuition, ornamentation and music examples. This ‘method’ is perfectly suited too to the tin whistle.

The book was launched on Wednesday, 27th November, 2013, at the Harcourt Hotel, Dublin.

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Publication of Crosbhealach an Cheoil – Crossroads Conference (2003) papers

Crosbhealach an Cheoil - Crossroads Conference - Fintan VallelyTraditional music is soundly established in Ireland as a ‘national’ music with a cross-class goodwill that sees large numbers of young people playing it as their music of choice. It is guided by enthusiastic idealists who run week-to-week teaching and seasonal music schools;  they make things happen by belief, commitment, foresight, planning and persistence. Their work is paralleled by equally dedicated people in Scotland, England, Europe, Scandinavia and North America, all of whom are linked to Ireland by performance and touring in the one disparate, global community of taste. Part of this picture too is the university-level study of Traditional music in Ireland and Britain, out of which comes much valuable research and writing. The Crosbhealach/Crossroads conferences set out to understand all of this better, and this second volume of papers is a diverse range of voices which assess aesthetic, practical and academic aspects of formal and informal Traditional music learning. The thirty-four essays in this volume are a cogent contribution to Irish Studies knowledge, and are of particular relevance to education, State agencies and the media. They should add too to the confidence of those involved in performance and promotion, for they show Traditional music internationally as alive and engaged – a challenging, satisfying contemporary music of the twenty-first century. [Read more...]

Release of Companion as an eBook

Companion to Irish Traditional Music 2 coverThe Companion to Irish Traditional Music is now available in digital formats. On February 1st 2013 it was released as an ebook on Kindle and on iBooks. It is also available to libraries on-line through the Project Muse UPCC collection, as part of a greater collection, or, later in 2013 as an individual title; libraries can also get access from CHOICE website by subscription.

This is a landmark for a reference publication dedicated to Irish music, and opens up a huge new potential for the encyclopedia’s use in education in particular. The online formats make it possible for schools and colleges to economically manage productive access to the book’s huge volume of data: searches for places, names, music or instrument references, quoting information or gathering together linked but diffuse information on such as dance or song – as part of project and music programme research. [Read more...]

Prestige ranking for Companion

The Companion to Irish Traditional Music has been ranked 11th in a shortlist of 644 ‘Outstanding Academic Titles’ (OAT) chosen by a key US librarians’ resource, Choice Reviews Online. The shortlist was selected from a total of c. 7,000 academic reviews of books in all subject areas which were themselves chosen by Choice Reviews for critical comment during 2012 out of more than 25,000 submitted books. This means that the Companion is in the top 3% of these 25,000 titles. This is a great achievement for the Companion’s publisher, Cork University Press and indeed for a book dedicated to Irish Traditional music, and for its contributors. [Read more...]