Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin to be Posthumously Awarded the NCH Lifetime Achievement Award

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (Photo: Maurice Gunning)

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin to be Posthumously Awarded the NCH Lifetime Achievement Award

Tribute concerts to take place in Dublin and Limerick on 2 and 3 September.

The National Concert Hall has announced that it will honour the late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin with its 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ó Súilleabháin, an influential educator, musician and composer, died in 2018 aged 67. His achievements ranged across many aspects of Irish musical life. He played a pivotal role in integrating traditional Irish music into third-level education in Ireland, particularly at University College Cork and the University of Limerick, where he established the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. He was also a composer and traditional music soloist on piano and wrote a range of popular works for orchestra and other ensembles that drew on traditional and classical music influences. He conducted research into the music of the fiddle player Tommie Potts, presented the television series River of Sound, and co-edited Sources of Irish Traditional Music, c. 1600–1855. He also released a number of acclaimed albums including The Dolphin’s Way (1987) and Oilean/Island (1989).

The award will be presented to his family at a concert to celebrate his life at the National Concert Hall on Friday 2 September. The concert will be repeated the following evening at the University Concert Hall, Limerick, on 3 September.

Concert programme
Titled ‘Lumen – The Music Of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin: A Celebration Of The Light’, the concert will feature the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Brophy and feature soloists Kenneth Edge (saxophone), Mike McGoldrick (flute), Mark Redmond (uilleann pipes), Neil Martin (cello), sean-nós singers Síle Denvir, Lillis Ó Laoire and Iarla Ó Lionáird, the Liz Doherty Fiddle Quartet (with Aidan O’Donnell, Katie Boyle and Zoë Conway), and the Eklego Ensemble, an ensemble of UL and UCC students directed by Mel Mercier (bodhrán) who was a frequent collaborator with Ó Súilleabháin and is now Chair of Performing Arts at the Irish World Academy.

Among the works that will be performed are Templum and Bean Dubh an Ghleanna for soprano saxophone and orchestra; An Buachaill Caol Dubh and Port na bPúcaí sung by Ó Lionáird with orchestra; Termōn for pipes and orchestra; Oileán/Island for flute and orchestra; and Fill Arís, Ó Súilleabháin’s settings of the poetry of Seán Ó Riordáin.

Commenting on the announcement, Robert Read, CEO of the National Concert Hall, and Chair Maura McGrath, commented:

We are delighted to honour the late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin with the 2022 National Concert Hall Lifetime Achievement Award. This is an opportunity for us all to acknowledge the enormous contribution Mícheál made to the musical landscape in Ireland, particularly in the genres of orchestral and traditional music. His wide-ranging achievements in composition, academia, performance, and recording have had a lasting influence, and will continue to shape, and to impact positively, on the future of music in Ireland, ensuring access and appreciation of Irish music for generations to come.

Ó Súilleabhain’s wife Helen Phelan, Professor of Arts Practice at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, added:

To see Mícheál’s work recognised so comprehensively by a lifetime achievement award is a source of great joy to me and all our family. It fills me with hope that the depth and complexity of what he sought to create – musical encounters between worlds – is being valued and celebrated. In a world often marked by fear and distrust of other cultures, this award reminds us that music offers another option. Mícheál’s music is a perpetual invitation to celebrate the kaleidoscopic creativity of the human spirit.

Previous recipients of the NCH Lifetime Achievement Award include The Chieftains (2012), flautist Sir James Galway (2013), singer and educator Dr Veronica Dunne (2014), singer/songwriter Paul Brady (2015), The Vanbrugh Quartet (2016), pianist John O’Conor (2017), singer/songwriter Shane McGowan (2018), and composer John Kinsella (2019).

For NCH tickets, visit www.nch.ieFor UCH Limerick tickets, visit www.uch.ie.

Published on 23 August 2022

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