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Acclaimed dance show inspired by poetry and art



“Yeats didn’t like the obvious and he wanted to push boundaries,” says choreographer Liz Roche, whose ground-breaking and critically acclaimed dance show, Bastard Amber, will be staged in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre tomorrow (Tuesday)

Presented by the Liz Roche Dance Company, it’s inspired by Yeats’ poem, Sailing to Byzantium, and the Gold Meditation paintings of artist Patrick Scott.

Bastard Amber is a co-production between The Abbey Theatre, Dublin Dance Festival and Liz’s own company, she explains.

The Liz Roche Company previously performed one of her pieces on the Abbey’s smaller Peacock stage in 2013, after which the Abbey’s artistic director Fiach Mac Conghail asked her to create a show for the main stage.

That meant Liz was the first Irish choreographer to be commissioned to create a full-length dance piece for Ireland’s national theatre.

“People have described it as ‘beautiful’,” she says, and certainly the reviews for Bastard Amber which conjures up an exotic Byzantine world, have been fantastic since it premiered at last year’s Dublin Dance Festival.

Liz had been a fan of Yeats since school, where she felt a connection with his poetry “and I didn’t connect with much at school”, she says.

He was central in establishing the Abbey as Ireland’s national theatre just over a century ago, and had always been an advocate of dance, she says. He wanted it to be part of Irish artistic life in the same way as theatre has become.

Yeats’ love of dance is apparent in poetry such as Among School Children, where he puts the dancer centre stage with the line ‘how can we know the dancer from the dance?’, she adds.

He was “sensitive around the body”, she observes, and the lines in Sailing to Byzantium which observe that “An aged man is but a paltry thing/A tattered coat upon a stick . . .” reflect that.

“Sailing to Byzantium always stood out for me, growing up”, says Liz, adding that her aunt, an English teacher, used to discuss the poem with her so there was a really strong connection.

From in his 1928 collection, The Tower, it was written by Yeats “in later life when he was thinking about death and where he would be going”, says Liz.

There’s a sense of “him not knowing what would happen, but he’s going there anyway”, adds the choreographer.

“He is taking a journey into the imagination, getting rid of the body and sailing off into Byzantium, which had been renowned as a great place of culture and economy.”

In the poem, Yeats makes several references to gold – hammered gold, gold enamelling, a gold mosaic and a golden bough. These offered Liz a link with pioneering artist Patrick Scott, which came about almost by accident, she says.

“I knew about his art but not about his gold paintings. Through a friend I discovered more about his work and met him briefly before he died [in 2014],” she explains.

After Scott’s death, Liz spoke to his partner, Eric, about her Yeats dance project and asked if it would be possible for Scott’s work be a part of it, specifically the “Gold Meditation paintings which are very clear and very simple”.

He agreed, and these are “now almost part of the set design”, she says. “They are gold against a black background with clear lines and very beautiful.”

She then worked with set designer Paul Wills, lighting designer Lee Curran, and with Catherine Fay on costumes.  Ray Harman composed the music and is one of four live performers who provides the score.

The dancers are the most crucial element of Bastard Amber and Liz has worked with performers from Ireland, France and the UK to create the piece.

That involved in-depth analysis of the poem and Yeats’ lines such as the one about his heart being “fastened to a dying animal”, which created the picture of a person trying to break free of their body.

The troupe of nine (including Liz) also explored the eastern philosophies which he embraced later in life, and have incorporated Sufi dance into the piece. The preparation also involved watching the Peter Brooks film Meetings with Remarkable Men to explore sacred dances and the energy that can be held in the pattern of a dance, she says.

“Sailing to Byzantium is used as the structure [of the dance piece] from start to finish but in an abstract way, as if you are intuiting the poem. The best thing to do is sit there and let the images wash over you.”

Like Yeats, Liz wants to push boundaries by letting the dancers represent the energy of the piece, capturing its restlessness, its meditative nature and ultimately its peace.

And she’s delighted to have the opportunity.

“You don’t often get to make a piece of this size in Ireland because of the cost. Everyone came on board for it and it’s brilliant to have this opportunity.”

Bastard Amber will be in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday (November 15) at 8pm as part of a nationwide tour. Tickets: €20/€16 from 091 569777 or online.


Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be



Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce.

Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a  blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.

The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.

It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.

Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.

People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.

The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.

The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at

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All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh



Most of the competitions for young musicians will take place this Saturday in Dunmore Community School. All the competitions are open to the public.

Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.

It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.

The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023.  Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.

Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.

Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.

On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.

Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.

For more information on the County Fleadh, go to


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Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday



Pianist Cédric Pescia.

Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.

This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.

This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as  ‘language and movement at the same time’.

Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31.  These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.

■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.

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