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Westport Festival a real family event

Ciaran Tierney

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Arts Week with Ciaran Tierney

Last year’s inaugural Westport Festival of Music and Performing Arts was so much fun that the only question on revellers’ lips as they left the picturesque grounds was whether or not the organisers would decide to run it again for another year.

The two-day festival had been marred by poor weather on the Saturday and sluggish early ticket sales until the sun broke through on the Sunday but, thankfully, word soon filtered back after it ended that plans were being put in place for another knees-up at the end of this month.

They have kept with the family-friendly vibe which proved such a runaway success in 2012 – children under 12 get in for free when accompanied by an adult – and have an increased emphasis on food for an event which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30.

Once again, the emphasis is on quality live Irish music, with a few international stars thrown in, and while there might be minor gripes that the likes of The Waterboys, Imelda May, and Damien Dempsey were on the bill 12 months ago, there can be few complaints about the standard of the acts on offer.

Indeed, West of Ireland music fans should be thrilled that a true Irish legend, Christy Moore, will headline the main stage on the Saturday night. The former Planxty and Moving Hearts man, joined as ever by the trusted Declan Sinnott, was perhaps one of the few glaring omissions from last year’s stunning bill.

And, given their strong Galway connections, there can be few complaints from these quarters about the return of Mike Scott and The Waterboys. They will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the legendary Fisherman’s Blues album (recorded in An Spideál) at the end of the year, but if they can repeat the energy and enthusiasm of their 2012 Westport set they should ensure quite a buzz around the superb 400-acre site.

The grounds of Westport House looked as though they were perfectly designed for a music festival 12 months ago and it’s a delightful prospect for Galway music fans to have such an eclectic mixture of artists performing just a few kilometres up the road again.

It’s not just about Irish acts, either, as they have added the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and 1980s superstars ABC to the main stage bill for the Saturday night. The prospect of seeing veteran Cuban musicians belting out the tunes, next to a historic old castle, really whets the appetite following the fine Afrocubism gig at the Galway Arts Festival’s Big Top a couple of summers ago.

Few will begrudge a return to the main stage for Imelda May, either, after her storming rockabilly set 12 months ago. It was the Dublin singer’s last gig before she gave birth to her first child and all the more memorable for the sense of joy her band brought to the set.

The Sunday night bill will be headlined by Elvis Costello and The Imposters, who rarely visit the West of Ireland, while there should also be plenty of 1980s nostalgia in the air when veterans Squeeze take to the same stage earlier in the evening.

There is a strong Galway presence at the Mayo festival, too, with performances by both The Stunning and gifted Athenry singer Julie Feeney on the Marquee Stage on the Saturday; while the new Galway band, The Cabin Collective, play the main outdoor arena on the Sunday afternoon.

The Cabin Collective must have mighty connections, because they got their music career off to a flying start with an appearance on RTÉ’s Late Late Show before producing a full live set at An Taibhdhearc in Galway for two nights during Cúírt.

This eight-piece have become known as a West of Ireland ‘super group’. The musicians who make up the band need no introduction as they include Leo Moran of The Saw Doctors, Tuam native Noelie McDonnell, former Waterboy Anthony Thistlewaite (who now lives in Gort) and Keith Mullins.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Sunday evening concert offers All the Pleasures

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Sunday evening’s concert will be performed by the Resurgam Choir and Irish Baroque Orchestra (pictured), under director Peter Whelan.

Music by George Frederic Handel and Henry Purcell as well as a world premiere by Irish composer Rhona Clarke will feature in Resounding Landscapes, a concert being presented by Music for Galway in association with Galway 2020 this Sunday, November 22. It will be live-streamed from the city’s St Nicholas’ Church, starting at 7pm.

It’s the second concert in the Abendmusik (Evening Music) series of vocal and choral performances, which forms part of Music for Galway’s programme for the European Capital of Culture project.

Sunday’s event will feature Welcome to all the Pleasures by the 17th century composer, Henry Purcell with text by Cristopher Fishburn; the world premiere of Rhona Clarke’s O Vis Aeternitatis – based on writings by the 12th century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen; and Handel’s Dixit Dominus.

The programme will be performed by the Resurgam Choir and Irish Baroque Orchestra (IBO), under director Peter Whelan, who is director of the IBO.

Creator of the Abendmusik Sunday evening concert series, Mark Duley feels that “in our current circumstance, it is good to be reminded by Fishburn in his text that ‘in music, we find relief from sorrow and grief’. And we can salute the venerable building of St Nicholas’ Church where for 700 years music has resounded and prayer has been valid.”

Meanwhile, a scheduled online production of the community opera, Paper Boat, which Music for Galway commissioned to celebrate the 700th anniversary of St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, has been postponed.

Paper Boat is central to Music for Galway’s programme for Galway 2020 and before Covid-19 restrictions, there had been plans for a major live production of the site-specific composition in St Nicholas’ last June.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Chance to experience Fregoli’s Cross Street as the drama unfolds

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Enid trying to make sense of her life in 'Cross Street.

Fregoli Theatre Company will present a work-in-progress performance of its forthcoming play, Cross Street, on Saturday, November 28.

This virtual reading of their new comedy, written by the company’s co-founder Jarlath Tivnan, offers hints of horror while exploring mental health issues, according to its director Eimear Finan.

The story centres on Enid who’s searching for a new home and finds a place on Cross Street, one of Galway’s most happening spots.

However, she enters a space that’s is already populated by some serious creatures of habit. When Enid’s arrival threatens to disrupt well-worn routines, a house meeting is called to re-establish order. But on this stormy night, other events take over.

Cross Street explores how mental issues can grow and manifest when left to fester, says Eimear. Each of the housemates has an issue: these range from grief, guilt, alcoholism, eating disorders, neglect, self-harm and self-doubt. And each person isolates from anyone who might either interfere or help.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Resourceful Emma gets in step with Zoom during pandemic

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Connemara's heritage features strongly in Emma's sean-nós dance classes and in her Facebook videos.

If you fancy learning sean-nós dancing, now is your chance as renowned dancer Emma O’Sullivan is using technology to put her students through their paces – at home and abroad.

In normal times, the All-Ireland champion can be seen dancing on the junction of Mainguard Street and Cross Street in Galway City.

Emma, from Derryinver, Letterfrack, is a popular figure and videos of her performances have been shared by over 20 million viewers worldwide. Her skills as a sean-nós dance teacher mean she’s in constant demand for classes among children and adults as at home and abroad.

But like so many in the performing arts sector, Emma’s livelihood has been severely affected by the pandemic.

After her regular classes were cancelled in March when lockdown began, she decided to try something new. She complied a 30-minute introductory sean-nós dancing tutorial video, which she uploaded to YouTube.  The feedback was so good, she moved on to classes via Zoom – which her students have since nicknamed ‘zoom-nós’.

This hasn’t been without its challenges, she says.

“There’s so much more to consider. Lighting and audio were a bit difficult, because while Zoom is fine for just chatting, suddenly I needed to talk and play music too.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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