Arts Week with Judy Murphy
Máiréad Ní Chróinín, chairperson of the board of Galway Theatre Festival arrives for our interview sporting a vibrant new hair colour – a kind of fiery red-pink, that as dramatic as it’s lovely.
It’s the work of her Polish hairdresser at Kazanoo Hair Studio and appropriately enough, Kazanoo will be transformed into a Festival venue on May 7 at 9pm. It will host The Salon, being performed by Grace Kiely and Catherine Ireton, which is a work in progress about the world of hair salons and how we interact in these places.
That piece is part of the ‘Made in Galway’ strand at this year’s Theatre Festival, which will run from May 1-9 at venues throughout the city.
This is the seventh Galway Theatre Festival but it’s the first time the event has been held in May. The organisers, made up of theatre practitioners from around Galway, initially designated the October Bank Holiday for the event and for several years, that’s when it took place. But to raise its profile they have moved it to May. That means it’s no longer clashing with the Dublin Theatre Festival or the Galway Comedy Festival when it comes to national media coverage, explains Máiréad.
“We needed to take a brave step and make space for Galway Theatre Festival to grow. It was a festival that proved a lot already in terms of locals going out and showing work, and as a platform for other companies nationally,” she explains. The board of the not-for-profit event held a series of consultations last year with practitioners, after which they devised an eight-year plan. This will involve developing relationships and partnerships, allowing the event to grow.
It was “a leap of faith” says Máiréad, a founder member of Galway’s Moonfish Theatre which presented the bilingual hit, Star of the Sea, at last year’s Galway Arts Festival and which cut its teeth in early Galway Theatre Festivals.
Although Moonfish isn’t involved in this year’s event, several individual members are, just with other companies, she says.
The Theatre Festival runs for eight days and includes has three strands of events – ‘Made In Galway’ featuring local artists, as well as work for ‘Midweek’, including a show from Phelim Drew, Down and Out in Paris and London.
There’s also a special ‘Bank Holiday’ strand, says Máiréad
“The idea was to have as many different events as possible over 48 hours so you can go from one to the other, and to have them cheaply priced.”
In addition to various plays and spectacles over the eight days, there will be theatre tours of Galway given by professional tour guide Brendan J Hynes. Encompassing Galway’s rich, but often hidden, theatre history from the middle ages to the present day, these will take place on May 2, 3, and 4 and are suitable for families.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be
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.
All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh
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.
Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday
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.