Barra Ó Séaghdha

Barra Ó Séaghdha is a writer on cultural politics, literature and music.

Look Forensically into My Mind
The frustrations of a creative spirit locked into a deteriorating body are made vivid in a new film on the musician Tony MacMahon, writes Barra Ó Séaghdha.
The Challenge to the Gaeltacht Remains
‘Aisling?’, a new show of music, song, dance and literature directed by Darach Mac Con Iomaire and commissioned by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, was presented as a central part of ‘Bliain na Gaeilge’ – a year-long celebration of the Irish language. Barra Ó Séaghdha reviews its Dublin premiere.
A Century of Irish Classics?
On 7–25 September, the National Concert Hall hosted 'Composing the Island', a major series of concerts spanning one hundred years of Irish classical music. Featuring over 80 composers, 27 concerts, and almost 200 works, Barra Ó Séaghdha explores its achievements as well as the musical questions it raises.
Commemorating 1916 By Not Thinking About It
As part of Ireland's 1916 commemorative programme, the National Concert Hall hosted a series of seven major concerts 'inspired by the 1916 Proclamation'. But, writes Barra Ó Séaghdha, did the series meaningfully engage with this history, or were they 'arranged with a view to demonstrating our harmlessness to an imaginary outsider'?
This is How we Fly express a free-spirited philosophy for group playing in traditional Irish music, while staying within the lines of that tradition.
Empty Space
Commissioned to compose a work in response to 9/11, John Adams confronted the question: can modern classical music still be the transcendental force we need it to be?
DEAF: Soap & Skin (Anja Plaschg)/Chip Shop Music/Paddy Glackin, Emer Mayock & Donal Siggins
Soap & Skin (Anja Plaschg), Button Factory, Dublin, 22 October 2009; Chip Shop Music, Ireland Institute, Dublin, 23 October 2009; Pastures New: Paddy Glackin, Emer Mayock and Donal Siggins, Kevin Barry Room, National Concert Hall, Dublin, 29 October
Kathleen Loughnane
The Harpers Connellan: Irish Music of the late 17th century
Oddbox: Cyclone of Discord
In works by Leitch Ritchie and John Beverley Nichols, Barra Ó Séaghdha discovers why Indian music is not serious art – while China and Scotland have problems too.
Oddbox: Voodoo, Sir Richard?
Barra Ó Séaghdha finds a disapproving account of paganism and the occult
Sounds Left Behind
Barra Ó Séaghdha asks where the British free jazz movement fits within definitions of jazz
Classic Protest Songs
Various, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (SFW40197)
Odd Box: Some Undignified Use
The opinions of Edward Martyn, founder of the Palestrina Choir
The first in a series of curious anecdotes from musical history.
Concert Review: RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet – Works Commissioned for Seamus Heaney's 70 Birthday
RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet / Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin / 3 April 2009
'Write Whatever You Want'
A period of freedom – and tension – in Chicago jazz through the playing of Anthony Braxton and the AACM
Elaine Clark (violin), Martin Johnson (cello), David James (cello), Madeleine Staunton (flute), Paul Roe (clarinet), Roberto Oliveira (percussion), Tine Verbeke (soprano), Jane O’Leary (piano) / Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin / 15 February 2009
Live Reviews: Crash Ensemble: Free State III / World View UK
Crash Ensemble, Darragh Morgan (violin), Alan Pierson (conductor), O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin 27–28 November 2008
Live Review: At First Light
The Cherry Tree, Dublin, 14 November 2008
Andrzej Bauer (cello), Roger Doyle (keyboard), Keith O’Brien (guitar, laptop), Brian Ó hUiginn (uilleann pipes) / Liberty Hall, Dublin / 19 September 2008
Living Up to the Song
Barra Ó Séaghdha reviews Faking it, which explores the divide between artist and performance.
Live Reviews: The Frost is All Over
Tony MacMahon (accordion); David Power (uilleann pipes, whistle, fiddle, vocals); Dermot Bolger (poetry); Directed by John Comiskey; Produced by David Teevan/Ten42 Productions / Tradition:DL Festival, Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, 2 August 2008.
Francesco Turrisi (piano), Gabrielle Mirabassi (clarinet), Roman Bunka (oud), Ronan Guilfoyle (bass), Bijan Chemirani (percussion) / National Concert Hall, Dublin / 24 April 2008
Boris Baltschun, Erik Carlsson, Roy Carroll, Axel Dörner, Kai Fagaschinski, Martin Küchen, David Lacey, Jason Lescalleet, Quiet Club (Danny McCarthy & Mick O’Shea), Fred Van Hove, Paul Vogel / The Unitarian & Peppercanister Churches, Dublin / 28–30 March 2008
Bewley’s Café Theatre, Dublin 2 / 11 March 2008
Live Reviews: Life After Feldman
Printing House, Trinity College, Dublin 15-16 December 2007
St Audoen’s Church, Dublin / 13 February 2008
Olympia Theatre, Dublin / 27 January 2008
Liberty Hall Theatre/NCH, Dublin9-11 November 2007György Ligeti was still alive when Benjamin Dwyer had the idea of dedicating a festival to his work; Ligeti had been dead for over a year when the idea eventually came to fruition. It was, however, very...
Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin / National Gallery, Dublin / 2 December 2007