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Finghin embraces diversity in Music for Galway role



Arts Week with Judy Murphy

I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel and I’m not introducing radical changes,” says Music for Galway’s recently appointed Artistic Director, Finghin Collins as he prepares to launch the organisation’s programme for 2013-14.

Finghin, who has taken over the role from Music for Galway’s co-founder and longstanding director Jane O’Leary, is also one of Ireland’s leading classical performers who is on the international stage for much of the year. He’s just back from Switzerland and is preparing to spend three weeks in America, so the old adage ‘if you want the job done, ask a busy man’ certainly is relevant when applied to him.

The work he is doing with Music for Galway can be summed up simply, he says.

“I’m introducing fresh, new musicians who I am aware of through my own work and I’m offering a diverse offering of events. There will be things people recognise and a few new things; there is an opera and an oratorio and a little bit of everything.”

The season will open on November 14 with a new piece from Jane O’Leary, which was commissioned by Finghin, who “wanted to pay tribute” to his predecessor. O’Leary is a renowned composer and her new solo piece, Five Bagatelles will be premiered by Korean pianist Ah Ruem Ahn on November14. 

The Irish premiere of Ian Wilson’s The Little Spanish Prison by David Cohen and Sasha Grynyuk will take place on October 30. Both O’Leary and Wilson will be present at each of these concerts to introduce their works.

A highlight of each season is the Midwinter Festival in January. Te event for this season focus will on the period from 1893 to 1913.

“They were 20 years in musical history when things changed dramatically. Composers were leaving tonality behind and not wanting in any particular key,” explains Finghin. During the Festival, which runs from January 17-19 audiences will get to relive the ground-breaking new sounds created by Debussy, Schoenberg and Stravinsky  alongside contemporary ‘old-style’ masterworks by Brahms, Fauré and Vaughan Williams. The event is programmed so that people can hear the music in a chronological order, as would have happened when these new, often controversial works – most notably Stravinsky’s 1913 piece, The Rite of Spring – were performed.

The world of visual art also took off during in the late 19th century with the Impressionist movement, says Finghin, and art will be involved in this Mid-Winter Festival too. Music for Galway is hosting a competition for students and recent graduates of the Centre for Creative Arts and Media (CCAM) of the GMIT, where the students are asked to respond to the music of the era. The resulting exhibition will be launched along with the Festival at the Town Hall Theatre.  Fifteen leading classical musicians from all over the world will take part in the event.

It’s a big undertaking, says Finghin, as he praises Music for Galway’s board and administrator Anna Lardi Fogarty for their role in bringing it to this stage.

“I’ve thought big on this one. I’ve had the idea and worked it and pushed for it.”

The brochure features a drawing by French artist Jean Cocteau of Stravinsky performing the Rite of Spring, which Anna located and is absolutely striking.

Other highlights in Music for Galway’s 2013-14 season include Handel’s popular Messiah in a period performance by the Irish Baroque Orchestra and Resurgam in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church on December 8.



Comedian Shane for city show



Comedian Shane Clifford.

Shane Clifford, who has been described by podcaster and comedian Blindboy as ‘The best comedian in Ireland, hands down’, will be at the city’s Town Hall Studio next Thursday, December 1, at 8.30pm to perform his new show, AW Class.

It’s being presented by the Lisa Richards Agency who are promising loads of laughter as Tralee man Shane tries and fails to get to grips with rugby fans, posh dogs, sinister yoghurt and retail breakdowns.

Shane who previously worked in Tesco, was 30 when he did his first stand-up show about six years ago. That was after he had quit his job, gone travelling and decided, on a whim, to upload some silly videos to the internet. He dealt with issues such as mental health and masculinity in an original and funny way in these videos and has since gone on to gain a reputation as an original voice on the Irish comedy scene, playing festivals and venues including Whelan’s.

Tickets €15, plus €1 booking fee, from, 091-569777 or from the Town Hall Theatre box office.



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INO present Donizetti comedy at Town Hall



Graeme Danby as Don Pasquale and Kelli-Ann Masterson as Norina. 

Irish National Opera will return to Galway next Thursday, December 1, to present Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in the Town Hall Theatre at  8pm.

Donizetti’s sparkling operatic comedy is an intergenerational tug-of-war about love and money. It  features Don Pasquale, a grumpy old bachelor; Ernesto, his good-looking young heir; and Norina, an attractive young widow.

This unorthodox love triangle is the basis for a hilarious and touching show that offers an entertaining slant on the threat of being disinherited, a mock marriage and a spendthrift wife.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles, it’s conducted by Teresa Riveiro Böhm and directed by Orpha Phelan, with Graeme Danby as Don Pasquale and Kelli-Ann Masterson as Norina.

Tickets for Don Pasquale are €30/€27, plus €1 booking fee, from, 091-569777 or from the Town Hall Box Office.

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Music festival set to return after a successful debut



Billy Owens of Galway Simon Music Project accompanied by Aboriginal singer Jesse Lloyd as they sing The Galway Shawl during a visit by Jessie to An Taibhdhearc to meet with members of the project during the Songs from an Open Road Festival. Jessie, who is an artist, musician, singer and activist, collaborated with well-known musician Steve Cooney for her concert as part of the festival. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Musicians, artists and DJs from more than 15 countries congregated in Galway City at the weekend to take part in the inaugural Songs From An Open Road (SFAOR).

Organisers Pádraic Boran and Pat Neary say the overwhelmingly positive reaction from audiences and participants alike augurs well for its future. They are hopeful it marks the beginning of a new international winter World Music festival in Galway.

There were a couple ‘firsts’ over the weekend. For many who attended the beautiful Loft @Seven in Bridge Street, it may well be a case of an ‘I was there’ moment, as an intimate but appreciative crowd saw a stupendous set from Indian futurist jazz percussionist Sarathy Koewar and his band. This was their Irish debut and also marked the beginning of a pioneering world tour from the burgeoning group. Pat and Pádraic are hopeful that this exciting talent will return to Ireland and Galway soon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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