Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Concorde @ National Gallery

There’s more new music from contemporary ensemble Concorde on Sun 7 June. Two specially commissioned works from composers Stephen Gardner and Judith Ring get their world premieres – Gardner’s klezmeria is a lively, klezmer-inspired duo for clarinet and violin, while Ring’s sextet Within an Egg of Space incorporates a layer of tape music. Also being performed is Angulos, another sextet recently commissioned from Mexican composer Alejandro Castanos; an earlier Ring piece Whispering the Turmoil Down for bass clarinet and tape; and Swedish composer Torbjorn Lundquist’s Duell, for accordion and percussion. It’s all happening at the National Gallery @3pm, and it’s all FREE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Great Irish Houses

For most people the music is the thing, and it’s an added bonus if the venue is special too - but it’s the best of both worlds in the KBC Music in Great Irish Houses Festival which runs from Sun 7 – Sat 13 June. Some great chamber music in some fab houses is the order of the day, and while some of the venues are well beyond the Pale, most of them are within relatively easy reach of Dublin. Cellist Daniel Müller–Schott and pianist Robert Kulek kick off proceedings at Emo Court in Laois, playing Shostakovich, Schubert and Mendelssohn on Sun 7. Closer to home, two concerts at Kilruddery House in Bray bring together pianist Hugh Tinney, clarinetist John Finucane and upcoming mezzo Tara Erraught for Schubert, Brahms and Spohr on Mon 8; and on Tue 9 the Navarra Quartet play Haydn, Shostakovich and Schumann’s delicious Piano Quintet with pianist John O’Conor

Sought-after Paris-based Quatuor Ebene make their Irish debut with hugely popular French pianist Philippe Cassard playing Beethoven, Ravel and Dvorak at the National Gallery on Wed 10, with a repeat performance at Fota House in Co Cork on Thur 11. A fascinating combination of guitar and cello featuring Xufei Yang and Natalie Clein playing everything from Vivaldi to de Falla is at Beaulieu House in Co Louth on Fri 12, and the final concert at Castletown House is an all-Schubert affair, with the Belcea Quartet playing the sublime Death and the Maiden quartet followed by the String Quintet with cellist extraordinaire Valentin Erben.

Crash @ the Beckett

Double Portrait is the latest concert from internationally acclaimed contemporary music collective Crash Ensemble, showcasing the music of composers David Lang and Louis Andriessen at the Samuel Beckett Theatre on Fri 5 June. Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for The Little Match Girl Passion, David Lang is co-founder of New York’s legendary Bang on a Can. Crash will perform his Forced March (a Crash commission) and Cheating Lying Stealing, alongside the work of hugely influential Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, including the exuberant free-form Workers’ Union, scored for ‘any loud-sounding group of instruments’. Expect lots of high-octane sounds in this incisive double bill.

The Fold 4

It’s the final Fold session on Thur 4 June, new improvised and experimental music at St Audeons Church, presented by Note Productions. For this grand finale Caoimhín O Raghallaigh plays trad and contemporary folk music on fiddle, hardanger and 5-string viola; Threadpulls features electronica from Gavin Duffy of Cap Pas Cap and Peter Maybury aka Hardsleeper; and there’s an intriguing spoken word performance from one time Microdisney/Fatima Mansions frontman Cathal Coughlan.

Write On!

A spot of something for everyone in this year’s Dublin Writers Festival which runs from Tue 2 to Sun 7 June at Project, Liberty Hall and the Abbey. Not surprisingly, Seamus Heaney at the NCH is sold out but you can still indulge in such high-profile delights as Zoe Heller (Notes on a Scandal), BBC journalist and New Yorker critic Simon Schama, Orange winner Anne Michaels, ITV’s Melvyn Bragg, Booker and Orange nominee Sarah Waters, and our own Colm Toibin and Brendan Kennelly. A total of 24 writers, among them poets, novelists, memoirists and social commentators, will  share their thoughts with an enthusiastic public, covering a diverse range of subjects from Victorian crime detection to immigration, homecoming, losing children and coming of age. ‘The power of the word’ may be this year’s theme, but a combination of words, music and archive imagery should pack a powerful punch in The Frost is All Over on Sat 6, a celebration of the poetry of Dermot Bolger featuring accordionist Tony MacMahon, piper David Power and actor Eamonn Hunt.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Murphy @ the Abbey

Hot on the heels of Tom Mac Intyre’s Only an Apple comes another new play at the Abbey from one of our foremost playwrights, Tom Murphy – his 17th work to premiere there. The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant features Tony Award-winner Marie Mullen as Arina, the once ruthless but now ageing matriarch of a disintegrating family, whose power and wealth is gradually slipping from her grasp and into the hands of her greedy and conniving son. Family morality is put under the spotlight in an epic piece of theatre that is both haunting and darkly humorous. Connall Morrison directs a large cast which includes such stalwarts as Tom Hickey, Des Cave and Mick Lally, as well as Frank McCusker, Declan Conlon, Ruth McGill, Caoilfhionn Dunne et al. Previews from Wed 27 May and opens on Wed 3 June.

Sundays at Noon

It's your last chance to hear free music @ City Hall before the Sundays at Noon series returns to its home in the Hugh Lane Gallery. On Sun 24 the Eolina Quartet from Bulgaria are joined by folk singer Valya Balkanska and Petar Yanev on bagpipes (the Bulgarian kaba-gaida) to celebrate the 'Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture', no less. Then it's back to the Hugh Lane in June for 3 solo recitals in the Sean Scully Gallery. On Sun 7 violinist Ionan Pectu-Colan plays Bach & Teleman; Ronan Guilfoyle plays acoustic bass guitar on Sun 14 (the intriguingly titled 'Bass and the Abstract Truth - Alone with Four Strings') and on Sun 21 Malachy Robinson on double bass plays Ian Wilson's Schattentiefe.  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dublin Dance Festival 2009

Things are about to get pretty lively on the dancefloor as the annual dancefest hits town, running from Fri 8 (see Bumper 2 Bumper below) to Sat 23 May. This year's programme has an interesting cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary vibe, with headline shows from Belgium's Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Brooklyn-based Evidence, A Dance Company, both at the Abbey. In Cherkaoui's Apocrifu the tradition of the written word is explored against the soaring polyphony of Corsican choral ensemble A Filetta. Ronald K Brown's company Evidence celebrates African-American culture in a seductive blend of African, modern, ballet and social dance styles. Their show One Shot is inspired by famous African-American photographer Charles Harris and features some of his iconic images. 

Other shows to watch out for include Rachid Ouramdane's Loin... (Far), dealing with the aftermath of violence, and based on his father's journals from Algeria and Indochina; and Irish Modern Dance Theatre's Fall and Recover, an inspirational piece created in collaboration with survivors of torture. The naked bodies of Daniel Leveille's Amour, acide et noix reveal both our solitude and need for interaction; fellow Quebecois Jose Navas dances to Bach, Bellini and Gershwin in Miniatures; and the music of James Brown and Aretha Franklin informs David Zambrano's Soul Project

On a lighter note, Iona Mona Popovici's Work in Regress explores what happens to Mr Jones of 'Animal Farm' after the animals kick him out, and Wendy Houstoun's Happy Hour explores what happens in a bar. You can revisit some Irish choreographic talent in a couple of Mixed Bills, take part in workshops and masterclasses, and view Dance on Film at the gorgeous Lighthouse Cinema. More info at

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coming Up

Greetings, reader! Back again after a brief hiatus and suddenly it's the merry month of May, with all kinds of interesting stuff on the horizon. The big one of course is Dublin Dance Festival (of which more anon) which kicks off on Fri 8 May with Bumper 2 Bumper, a silent disco in Meeting House Square hosted by Phantom djs, with dance classes and guerilla dance performances to get you into your stride. It's free but you need a ticket, available from Temple Bar info centre. Ivories are being tickled around the city as the Axa Dublin International Piano Competition gets into full swing. Preliminary rounds are at the RDS Concert Hall  (listen live online @ and semi-finals are at the NCH, culminating in a marathon of concerto playing on Thur 14 & Fri 15 May. The RTE NSO wind up their season with a cracking concert at the NCH on Fri 22. It's Gerhard Markson's final concert as Principal Conductor, and he pulls out all the stops for Richard Strauss's Oboe Concerto, soloist Stefan Schilli, and Mahler's sublime Resurrection Symphony with the RTE Phil.