Date Published: 18-May-2011
Musician Siobhán Armstrong played the historic Irish harp for Queen Elizabeth last Tuesday in Trinity College, having been invited to perform for the British monarch by the university where she studied for her music degree.
Some people might regard that request as a major honour, but while Siobhán isn’t dissing it, she’s definitely more excited about the prospect of meeting up with fellow musicians in Galway and playing for the general public at the sixth annual Galway Early Music Festival, which takes place this weekend in the city.
Early Music refers to Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music and dance, and while it might sound a bit rarefied for most of us, Siobhán promises that the music her group will be performing in St Nicholas’s Church on Saturday night, will be “ravishing”, while the songs have themes that speak to people from all generations.
She is founder and director of the Irish Consort, which is presenting a concert based on the type of entertainment found in England’s Royal Court at the turn of the 17th century. These concerts, with speaking, dancing, singing, music making, were known as masques, explains Siobhán, who has spent 20 years working in the area of historic and harp music and who plays both early Irish and European harp.
During her student years in Trinity she developed a particular interest in music from that era. Her interest in the music drew her to the instruments, and she now has an extensive collection of copies of harps from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque eras
Siobhán says the Irish Consort will feature beautiful music and singing from the time, with vocals courtesy of [soprano] Róisín O’Grady, “an amazing singer”.
The songs, by some of the most famous songwriters of that era, remain relevant, she says. “English Renaissance songs had very human themes. They deal with love and pain and loss and the fact that human beings are fragile creatures.”
In fact, Siobhán sees a correlation between that music and the 20th century blues. “There is a kind of melancholy to both. The themes are universal and always the same.”
Those whose work will feature in the concert include Thomas Campion, who wrote songs to be accompanied by lutes. “The historical harp is the equivalent of the lute – it’s a plucked instrument,” explains Siobhán. Also accompanying Róisín O’Grady’s singing is Nicholas Milne on bass viol – this is the precursor to the cello.
The other part of the Irish Consort programme will feature instru
mental music of the era, which would have been performed for the king. Claire Duff will play violin, Laoise O’Brien will be on recorder, Nicholas Milne on bass viol, and Siobhán will play Renaissance harp and early Irish harp, both of which featured at court.
“The flavour is of Ireland meeting the Continent in entertaining and beautiful instrumental music,” says Siobhán. There is also humour, especially in the opening sections of these scores – “there is funny lively stuff”.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.
It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.
Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores
This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.
However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.
Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.
That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.
The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.
Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.
Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.
He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.
Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.