Thursday, February 26, 2009

Advent Calendar

According to my spies in the world of electronica, The Advent aka Cisco Ferreira is back in town tomorrow night (Fri 27) for a much anticipated gig at Kennedys on Westland Row, courtesy of the Test crew. Expect some killer electro and hard-edged techno from one of electronic music's most inspired producers and 'nicest geezers'. Doors 11pm

Music on the Move

The Hugh Lane Gallery's free Sundays at Noon series is decamping to the lofty environs of City Hall for the next couple of months - a beautiful if underused building with elegant proportions, a soaring dome and an echoing acoustic that may not suit every chamber ensemble. Judge for yourself next Sun 1 March when Sextets in the City features Brahms' String Sextet No 2 in G and Tchaikovsky's Adagio from 'Souvenir de Florence'. On Sun 15 you can hear Purcell, Handel and Couperin performed by soprano Lenneke Ruiten with Sarah Groser on bass viol and Malcolm Proud on harpsichord, and on Sun 29 the Vienna Mozart Trio play piano trios by Mozart and Dvorak.

Free Opera

Free Opera? It sounds like an oxymoron, but that's what's on offer from Opera Ireland and Temple Bar Cultural Trust on Sat 28 Feb, the opening night of Opera Ireland's Spring Season. Mind you, you'll have to brave the great outdoors and whatever inclement weather is thrown at you, but hey, it'll be worth it. While the great and the good are enjoying the comforts of the Gaiety Theatre and the delights of Mozart's Don Giovanni, you can hang out knacker-drinking with your mates before heading up to Meeting House Square for a simultaneous live broadcast @8pm - get there early to get a seat. 
This co-production with Opera Monte Carlo features the charismatic Austrian brothers Paul Armin and Peter Edelmann as the Don and his servant, with Irish soprano Cara O'Sullivan as Donna Anna. If outdoor opera isn't your thing, tickets for the Gaiety start at €25 (€10 for students). And if you book before 5.30 on Fri 27 Feb you can get 2 tickets for the price of one for Tuesday's (3 March) performance of Tchaikovsky's bloodthirsty Mazeppa, based on the Pushkin poem Poltava.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shepard at the Abbey

The Abbey have scored another coup with another world premiere from the great Sam Shepard. Following the huge success of Kicking A Dead Horse, written for Stephen Rea and directed by the author, Shepard is back again at the Peacock with his latest play Ages of the Moon, currently in previews and opening on Wed 4 March. Tapping once again into the complexities of the American zeitgeist, it looks back over 50 years of love, friendship and rivalry as two old friends are reunited by mutual desperation and a bottle of bourbon. This time around Jimmy Fay, who previously directed a powerful True West at the Peacock, takes on the director's mantle, and Stephen Rea takes to the stage in the company of Sean McGinley. Check out for a Youtube link to see Fay, Rea, McGinley and the Abbey's Fiach Mac Conghail talking about the production.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Price of a Pint!

Any impoverished students out there? How about skipping lectures next Fri (27 Feb) and heading into the NCH instead to see the RTE National Symphony Orchestra's final rehearsal (11-1pm) with conductor/composer James MacMillan and percussionist Colin Curie; a pre-performance discussion @6.45 with MacMillan and Curie; plus the full evening concert, featuring American composer Jennifer Higdon's exuberant Percussion Concerto - and all this for a mere fiver! And for another fiver, Curie gives a Percussion Masterclass on Thur 26 @5pm. Booking @

Positive Dead People

Bewleys lunchtime, til 14 March
This is a hoot! Two very different brides meet in the  most unlikely of circumstances. Mo is cool and contained, Millie is flouncy and a bit hyper, but they have one thing in common - they're both dead. The best day of their lives has also turned out to be the last day of their lives, and they now find themselves, still clad in their wedding finery - 'mind the dress' is a constant refrain - in a sort of waiting room for whatever happens next, debating the merits of the afterlife: on the positive side, there is a sofa, a novel (Great Expectations), and chocolate eclairs.
Mo has got there first, so there's a bit of a tussle for the pecking order, but they're both in the same boat so a bit of sisterly camaraderie develops as they view, from a distance, first their weddings and then their funerals. But consternation sets in when mystery missives from an unseen presence begin to arrive. Deliciously performed by Clodagh O'Donoghue and Pauline Shanahan (the author), who capture all those little bridal nuances.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marina Carr: Marble

Abbey Theatre, til 14 March
Marina Carr's plays to date have been firmly rooted in the treacherous bogs and dark rivers of her native midlands, but in Marble she cuts loose from her past, and any real sense of place, to create a knowing, witty and at times quite powerful meditation on, essentially, the meaning of life (or lack thereof) that could well have been written by one of those clever British playwrights - apart, that is, from the savagery of some of the language, and the odd quirkiness of some of the accents.
In spite of the wry humour, there is a shadow of doom from the start, like echoes of a Greek tragedy, as Art announces to his best friend Ben that he has been having erotic dreams about Ben's wife - and she, it turns out, is having parallel dreams about him. Dangerous territory, and although theirs is only a virtual relationship, the turmoil of this dream world seeps into a destructive reality, as Catherine becomes more and more obsessed by her other life, passionate and fulfilled, in unknown marble rooms.
Not as absorbing as some of Carr's other work, but a fine piece of theatre nonetheless, with a strong cast and an interesting set, its curved wall reminiscent (under certain lighting) of an Escher print, heading towards infinity.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Habib Koite

The hypnotic rippling sounds of world-renowned Malian guitar maestro and singer Habib Koite take over the NCH on Wed 18 Feb as part of the Waltons World Masters series. Hailing from a long line of griots or traditional troubadours, Koite takes his pentatonic-tuned open-string guitar style from the African kamale n'goni, which you can experience at close quarters during his masterclass @4pm. Later he takes to the stage with his band Bamada, something of a super-group of West African musicians, who between them conjure up an exotic blend of traditional Malian rhythms with tinges of blues, jazz and flamenco - sunny, subtle and sublime. 

Famous Blue Raincoat

Putting Flann O'Brien (aka Myles na Gopaleen, novelist, satirist, linguist and newspaper columnist) on stage? It might seem impossible, but it has been done before to quite brilliant effect, when Alex Johnston and Jimmy Fay staged At Swim-Two-Birds at the Peacock back in 1998. Now it's the turn of Sligo's Blue Raincoat, who bring their acclaimed adaptation of The Third Policeman to Project from 16 to 28 Feb. Blue Raincoat's ensemble excels in strongly visual and movement-oriented theatre, and their surreal interpretations are the perfect match for Flann O'Brien's fantastically surreal vision of Irish life. Adapted by Jocelyn Clarke, who also adapted Alice in Wonderland for the company, its typically bizarre characters include a nameless man whose soul is called Joe, three village policemen with a machine for storing light, a murderous rake called Finnucane, a one-legged gallows maker and, behind it all, the eccentric philosopher De Selby with his theories of molecule exchange and dark air.

Music at the Movies

Movie buffs will know all about the Dublin International Film Festival which opens today and runs at various cinemas until 22 Feb. Jam-packed with over 130 films, there's lots of mini-seasons to help you negotiate your way, including Turkish, Irish and French cinema; the Real to Reel documentary season which includes the Spinal Tapesque Anvil! The Story of Anvil! followed by a live performance from the eponymous band, as well as docs about uber-folkie Liam Clancy and jazz musician Jim McKay; and Out of the Past, showcasing a series of archive treasures including the ubiquitous but nonetheless fascinating Mise Eire, with its rousing O Riada orchestral score; and a true hidden gem, The Seasons, an amateur filmmaker's meticulous chronicle of a year in the life of a small Co Mayo village, filmed in 1935. Screening at the IFI on Feb 21, this unique silent movie will be accompanied by live music from harpist Cormac de Barra and Colm and Rossa O Snodaigh of Kila.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Come in, Europe!

A fresh take on jazz featuring up and coming jazzists from around Europe, courtesy of Improvised Music Company's annual 12 Points! Festival. It's all happening at Project, with 3 concerts nightly from Wed 11 to Sat 14 Feb (that's, like, NOW), and a healthy diversity of sounds which should appeal to jazz lovers in all their many shapes and sizes. You can take your pick of pianistic lyricism from London's Curios and Helsinki's Aki Risannen; varying degrees of electronica from Dublin's Morla and Rome's Luca Aquino; rhythmic traditionalism with a new twist from Spanish bassist Giulia Valle and Poland's Audiofeeling; looser sounds from Oslo's Albatrosh and Berlin's Hyperactive Kid; shades of contemporary classical from Stockholm's Paavo; and just about everything else from Copenhagen's Magnus Fra Gaarden. Me, I'm planning on checking out French saxophonist Emile Parisien and Amsterdam's Zapp. Visit for myspace links etc

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bach to Bach

The sublime Cello Suites of JS Bach, among the most affecting solo music ever written, are performed over two concerts at the National Gallery on Sunday 15 & 22 Feb @3pm. Taking up the bow will be former NSO principal William Butt, described by the Observer as 'a worthy successor to Rostropovich' for his 2004 recording of Britten's Cello Suites. Bach buffs will be in a bit of a quandary, as both concerts clash with the Orchestra of St Cecilia's Bach Cantatas series at St Ann's Dawson St, which runs every Sunday @3.30pm until 8th March. This is the second last year of OSC's mammoth ten-year project to perform all 200 of Bach's surviving Church Cantatas, most of which had never been performed here before.

New Music, New Space

There's a new performance space at the NCH, and who better to inaugurate it than the cutting edge Ensemble ICC, performing the newest of new music from the Irish Composers Collective. The Kevin Barry Room, originally part of UCD's Engineering Department, will shake off the ghosts of its dusty predecessors with the striking sounds of music for string ensemble, electronics and video/electronics in the very capable hands of one-time ICO leader violinist Brona Cahill, viola player Cian O Duill, who's just finished touring with the RTE Vanbrughs, Crash Ensemble regular Kate Ellis on cello and Daniel Bodwell on bass.


The Giant Blue Hand

Some of the most formidable, creative, intelligent (and occasionally scary) women in Irish theatre are collaborating on a new play - for kids. Lucky kids, especially when the women in question are playwright Marina Carr, chronicler of all things dark and dangerous, and director Selina Cartmell, who has done very interesting things with plays such as Festen and Macbeth. Add to the mix award-winning designer Monica Frawley (a memorable Taming of the Shrew) and choreographer Ella Clarke, not to mention a top-notch cast including Catherine Walker, Don Wycherley and Cindy Cummings, and you've got something quite special. The play is The Giant Blue Hand, set in a world where things aren't quite what you'd expect, and peopled with delights such as Aunt Farticus Fume in her Pink Wellingtons and Queen Dalia the Empress of Dreamers. It's at The Ark from 10 Feb to 22 March, with performances each weekend and during the mid-term break. 
Busy Marina Carr also has a new play (for grown-ups) coming up at the Abbey.  Marble, directed by Jeremy Herrin, promises a taut, funny and incisive exploration of friendship, marriage and the power of the subconscious. Previewing from 10 Feb and opening on Tues 17.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Free Music!

Sundays at Noon at The Hugh Lane Gallery is one of the most civilized ways to recover from whatever happened on Saturday night. Free music in amazing surroundings, how cool is that. Over the next two Sundays (8 & 15 Feb) you can hear all of Brahms'  Sonatas for Violin & Piano and Cello & Piano, played by violinist Gillian Williams and cellist Arun Rao (who together form the Duo Chagall) with Russian pianist Elisaveta Blumina. Concerts start at 12 noon, but this series is really popular so you need to get there early. More free music in fab surroundings on Sunday 15 when contemporary ensemble Concorde play New Music from Mexico at IMMA @ 3pm. All Irish premieres, and all written in the 21st century, the programme spans music for voice, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion and includes a dramatic piece for solo cello, electro-acoustic sounds and film projection (by Man Ray) from one of Mexico's best known contemporary composers, Javier Alvarez.