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Celebrating human voice – and nightclub culture

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Plane sailing: Soprano Rachel Croash and Music for Galway Artistic Director Finghin Collins take to the air ahead of the launch of Music for Galway's new season 'On wings of song' at the Meyrick Hotel on Monday evening. Photo: Andrew Downes.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Success brings its own challenges – and these are challenges Music for Galway is only too happy to embrace as the group builds on its 2014-15 season, which saw audiences double and sponsorship increase significantly.

Only three years ago, Music for Galway, which was set up in 1981 to nurture classical music in Galway, was fearful for its very survival.

Its 2015-16 season, launched this week, sees an expanded programme with several new strands – something members could have only dreamed about a couple of years ago when pianist Finghin Collins took over as Artistic Director.

This year’s season, On wings of song is dedicated to the human voice, in a similar manner to last year’s successful Cellisimo season, which brought the cello centre stage.

“On wings of song will show the variety of the human voice in a variety of contexts,” says Finghin Collins, adding that different concerts will feature singers performing with a string quartet, with a piano, in oratorios, in opera and with orchestras.

“This will show the richness of poetry that comes with the voice, moving and touching us in a unique way,” he says. “We have an amazing vocal tradition in Ireland and a special relationship with the voice, through sean-nós and traditional singing.”

More recently, Ireland has produced world-class opera singers such as Anne Murray, Cara O’Sullivan and Celine Byrne.

As an acclaimed pianist, Finghin performs at events and festivals all over the world and many of the singers in this year’s programme are people he has met and been impressed with on his travels. They include Dutch baritone Henk Neven, accompanied by Han Eijsakers on piano, both of whom who will make will make their Irish debut in Galway in February

“I want to bring new names to Galway and to Ireland,” explains Finghin.

He’s also working to attract new audiences. Music for Galway Goes Clubbing, being staged in the City’s trendy Electric Garden venue will feature German soprano Salome Kammer singing songs by Kurt Weill, accompanied by the Vogler Quartet who will also perform music from Hayden and Schulhoff. That show, in April, will also include late-night dancing, with music from guest DJs.

This year’s Music for Galway season begins on Thursday, September 10, with Handel’s Agrippina, one of his earlier operas. The Irish Youth Orchestra production, in English, will be at the Black Box in a co-production with Northern Irish Opera and Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Irish talent will be to the fore again on November 4, when mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught, accompanied by pianist Dearbhla Collins, will perform songs by Dvorak, Brahms, Wolf, Copland, Mahler and Britten at the Aula Maxima, NUIG.

Music for Galway expanded programme this year includes two new strands, the Orchestral Series and the Lunchtime Series. These have been made possible thanks to sponsorship from Stewart Construction and the software company SAP.

There will be six concerts in Lunchtime Series, taking place throughout the year at Hotel Meyrick.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be

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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 Eventbrite.ie.

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CITY TRIBUNE

All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh

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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 www.galwaycomhaltas.ie.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday

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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 www.musicforgalway.ie, 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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