Tour Exploring Composition in Traditional Music
Bringing together, for the first time, some of the most prolific living composers in Irish traditional music – who also happen to be among the best players – this project puts their composed music in the spotlight and may thereby help people to appreciate more that tunes which were assumed to be unattributed (like so many in the tradition) have actually been written by someone possibly there on stage or living locally or not long deceased; that music which is sometimes used in recordings and music schools as if it were public property is actually the copyright of hard-working composers; and that the talent, skills and craftsmanship of composing traditional music are on a par with those in other musical genres.
A core trio of Liz Carroll, Máirtín O’Connor and Dave Flynn will tour a number of venues around the country playing their own music and that of other composers. They will be joined for different performances by one of a number of other guest composers with links to those locations, including Charlie Lennon (Leitrim), Peadar Ó Riada (Cork) and Tommy Peoples (Donegal and Clare). Each night audiences will get a chance to hear these doubly-talented musicians showcasing composed music.
They will also be paying tribute to many other composers not performing, including deceased composers like O’Carolan, Ed Reavy, Paddy O’Brien, Seán Ryan and Junior Crehan and living peers like the Dwyer brothers and Paddy Fahey.
It’s a rare opportunity to focus our attention on how the tradition is being developed through new tunes, and on the skills of those contributing to that process. (It is interesting that the tour is happening in the same year that Tommy Peoples became only the second traditional musician ever to be elected to Aosdána.)
From the American inflection of many Liz Carroll’s tunes, to the more classically-influenced form of Dave Flynn’s compositions, to the ecumenical openness of Máirtín O’Connor music, the concerts will give audiences a sense of the wide range of influences being brought to bear on the Irish traditional music.
The tour was conceived by Flynn following his album, Contemporary Traditional Irish Guitar, which was comprised entirely of tunes written in the last 50 years by composers including Paddy Fahey, Ed Reavy, Charlie Lennon and Tommy Peoples.
Flynn explains: ‘Charlie Lennon and Tommy Peoples represent perhaps the most established, familiar voices on the tour. They are part of a generation brought up in the post-war era. As such their music is very much now established as part of the tradition. Still they have the ability to surprise and their newest tunes contain twists and turns that mark them out as contemporary and a new development from what went before.
Liz Carroll, Máirtín O’Connor and Peadar Ó Riada represent a younger generation, who made their names in the 80s and 90s. Their tunes are beginning to be absorbed into the tradition. Yet each brings a distinctive, new approach to tune composition that can sometimes challenge preconceptions of what might be considered traditional.
Then there’s me. I was born in 1977, and it is only in the past few years that my music has begun to be heard through performances by musicians like Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill, Mick O’Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. It’d be safe to say that none of my tunes have entered the general repertoire yet; however, the tunes of mine that we will perform during the tour will give audiences a taste of one particular direction that contemporary traditional music is going.
I will be bringing the newest, least familiar ‘voice’ to the table and I suspect some of my tunes might take a bit more getting used to on the audiences part. Mairtin O’Connor described some of my tunes to me as “zany” and I can see why he might say that. In some of my tunes the melodic language is really pushed a bit further out than some audiences would be used to. In saying that though, people used to contemporary classical music mightn’t hear much difference between my tunes and the Bucks of Oranmore!’
Liz Carroll is a multi-All-Ireland fiddle champion. She has toured and recorded extensively as a solo artist as well as with the Green Fields of America, Trian, the String Sisters, and with John Doyle. Liz is a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship Award in the USA. In 2009 she became the first Irish-American musician nominated for a Grammy, and in 2011 the first American to be awarded the TG4 composer’s award, Gradam an Chumadóra TG4. In 2010 Liz published Collected, the notation for 185 of her tunes in one volume.
Máirtín O’Connor was one of the main musical forces behind Riverdance, and is also celebrated known for his work with Dé Dannan, Midnight Well, Skylark, as a solo artist and in a trio with Cathal Hayden and Séamie O’Dowd. In 2010 Máirtín was conferred with an honorary masters degree by NUIG in recognition of his contribution to traditional music, and in 2011 he published his tunes along with an account of his musical life in a book called Inside the Box, Outside the Box.
Dave Flynn is an award-winning composer whose music has been performed by artists including the Smith Quartet, ConTempo Quartet, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, and at festivals including Summergarden, New York and Prague Premieres. Dave is also an acclaimed guitarist and chamber musician, having performed with such groups as the Crash Ensemble, the Neurtingen Guitar Orchestra and the Dublin Guitar Quartet, a group he co-founded.
The tour has been made possible thanks to the support of an Arts Council of Ireland Touring and Dissemination Award.
Thursday, 20 September – Shorelines Festival, Portumna
Friday, 21 Sept – Culture Night, Glór, Ennis (The Tune Makers appear as special guests of The Clare Memory Orchestra)
24 to 25 Sept – Venues TBC
Wednesday, 26 Sept – The Dock, Carrick On Shannon (with special guest Charlie Lennon)
Thursday, 27 Sept – Ionad Cois Locha, Dunlewey, Co. Donegal (with special guest Tommy Peoples)
Saturday, 29 Sept – Glór, Ennis (Full Tune Makers show with special guest Tommy Peoples)
Monday, 1 October – Whelan’s, Dublin 2
Sunday, 6 October - Triskel Arts Centre, as part of the Cork Folk Festival (with special guest Peadar Ó’Riada)
Published on 14 September 2012