Virtual Ireland in Music – a dvd project

This virtual-performance project is a Covid-era response to the absence of live performance. It is a  documentary-style movie of still images linked sequentially to performance of Traditional tunes named for each county on the island of Ireland and its Diaspora regions of England and the USA. The imagery and music embody hundreds of the key elements among the vast amount of information given in the book Companion to Irish Traditional Music. It will have a county-by-county tunes/song repertoire, with visual imagery linked to places. The music was established by a set group of performers – Fintan Vallely, Gerry O’Connor, Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn – a 100-minute performance with Irish-language singers Máire Ní Choilm and Róisín Chambers and sean-nós dancer Sibéal Davitt; some of it is new composition. The imagery is based in the music and scenery work of photographer Jacques Piraprez Nutan and the landscapes of Gareth McCormack. As a show, this has been performed live since 2013 as Compánach – Irish music in its places’, until health restrictions brought it to a halt.

To side-step verbal distraction, visual imagery has been chosen as the narrative for the music, avoiding language and translation issues. When done live, the images are projected on a large-scale, stage backdrop behind the players as a continuous stream of stills, each of them related to the music being played at that moment. The main photographic contributor to this was Jacques Piraprez Nutan, an artist who has contributed images for many Irish albums, and had worked with Fintan Vallely on other photographic/music projects, notably the 1998 music-interviews book Blooming Meadows, and the 2011 biography of Leitrim fiddler Ben Lennon, The Tailor’s Twist. Photographic royalties were agreed and paid on the same basis asUnder the title Compánach, and with support from Culture Ireland, this ‘illustrated concert’ has been progressively developed through performance at festivals and arts centres in Ireland, Britain, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Australia, latterly at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann in Drogheda, 2019.  for musicians.

The project thus became both a comprehensive audio-visual parade and inventory of Irish Traditional music, song and dance in its places and communities. Its music covers all tune-types; its images demonstrate the artistic drive, achievement and contemporary and historical engagement among Irish Traditional music performers, facilitators, teachers and consumers. The 940 pictures denote performers, repertoire, social contexts, gender, age, historical era, political and religious partialities, organisations, regional topography, urban and rural, teaching, publication, promotion, celebration and honours. The artistic purpose of this is to culturally and geographically demonstrate the scale, open-ness, modernity and tribute to the past, and the emotional attraction of this music genre.

It is now planned as both a DVD and streaming video. All enquiries welcome; further information as it develops …