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Virtuoso brothers set for new musical heights

Judy Murphy



Brothers Anton and Vladimir Jablokov, who will play at the Town Hall on Saturday, October 8.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Classical and folk music will get all ‘shook up’ when Slovakian brothers Vladimir and Anton Jablokov showcase their new album at the Black Box Theatre on Saturday, October 8.

Vladimir and Anton Live, which was recorded over three sold-out nights at the Wexford Arts Centre earlier this year, features old Russian folk tunes alongside classical music by the likes of Prokofiev, Rimsky-Korsakov and Shostakovich. All compositions are performed in the brothers’ unique style, which focuses strongly on improvisation and makes for a lively listening experience.

Their Galway visit is as part of an Irish tour to promote the album and it comes hot on the heels of their appearance at the BBC Proms in the Park in Belfast, where they joined the likes of Lesley Garrett and Broadway sensation John Owen-Jones at the Titanic Centre.

Before that, the brothers were touring the UK as special guests of soprano Katherine Jenkins – and they recently guested at the prestigious Isle of Wight festival.

Their new album was inspired by their paternal grandfather, Nikolaj, who was born in Moscow in 1925, explains Vladimir, who moved to Ireland 12 years ago and has slowly carved out a career in the music business here. His younger brother Anton, who has a Master’s degree in classical music from the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland, is currently studying for a solo diploma there.

The boys grew up in a musical family in Bratislava, with four other musical siblings – five out of the six now make a living as musicians.

Their father Alexander was a violinist who met their mother Katarina while both were studying at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Katarina was from Slovakia and the couple settled in her home city, Bratislava.

Vladimir and Anton were middle children and close in age, with a particularly strong musical bond. Both studied violin, piano voice and music theory at the Conservatoire in Bratislava. However, while Anton always knew he wanted to be a professional musician, Vladimir rebelled.

As a teenager, he knew he didn’t want to become an orchestral musician, but the chances of becoming a soloist in the world of classical music were slim. Only the top five per cent of classical musicians have that option, he says.

“Being an orchestral musician just wasn’t my thing. I always wanted to do something else.

“Coming to Ireland was just a mad idea about going as far away as possible and doing other work,” he recalls with a laugh. “Obviously the whole family was against it.”

Vladimir had dreamed of salmon fishing in Kerry, but it was not to be and being broke in Dublin was no fun. So he joined a group of like-minded musicians from mainland Europe and took to Grafton Street.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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