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.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.