Friday, December 17, 2010

The Abbey Habit

There’s some great stuff coming up at the Abbey. First off is Dion Boucicault’s Arrah-na-Pogue, (last seen at the Abbey over 30 years ago) opening on Wed 21 Dec. There’s nothing like a bit of rip-roaring rollicking Boucicault to beat those winter/recession blues, and when the inimitable Mikel Murfi is at the helm as director, then you’re in for a real treat. Set in the Wicklow mountains in 1798, romance and skullduggery are in the air as popular rebel Beamish MacCoul lies in wait to ambush the rent man before heading off to marry Fanny Power, while down in the valley Shaun the post declares his love for the feisty Arrah. But the evil Michael Feeny has other plans… Original live music performed each night by Conor Linehan, and the top-notch cast includes the Marys Murray & O’Driscoll, the Peters Daly, Gowen & Hanley, Aaron Monaghan, Jack Walsh and Rory Nolan.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Music update

Oh My God it’s only two weeks to Christmas, how did that happen? The snow put a halt to everyone’s gallop, but time to get back into the spirit of things. The Christmas concert from Gloria, Dublin’s gay and lesbian choir (now 15 years old), has proved so popular over the last few years that they’ve moved to a much bigger venue, the soaring heights of St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s on Thur 16 @8pm, admission is free, donations on the night to the Choir and GCN Forever. Also at St Patrick’s, the beautiful and very popular Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols takes place on Sun 19 @3.15pm. Get there early to get a seat.
There’s two lots of Christmas Tidings from the excellent National Chamber Choir, in Monkstown Church of Ireland on Wed 22 (8pm) and the Hugh Lane Gallery on Thur 23 (3pm). David Brophy conducts a nice mix of well-known Christmas favourites and more unusual pieces, including Benjamin Britten's Christ's Nativity, Taverner's Ikon of the Nativity, Poulenc’s Quatre motets pour le temps de Noel and Mel Torme's The Christmas Song.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let It Snow

Oh the weather outside is delightful, but there’s a limit to the number of snowmen you can make and all that sloshing around is a bit hard on the feet. So check out a bit of culture instead – there’s more to December than pantos and Christmas carols. A couple more concerts in the Hugh Lane Sundays @Noon series before they close up shop for the hols: on Sun 5 Dublin based Russian-German pianist Elisaveta Blumina is joined by the Staatskapelle Berlin Woodwind Quintet for a lovely programme of Anton Reicha, Jean Francaix, Piazzolla, and Poulenc’s Sextet for piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn. On Sun 12 the Riverrun Piano Quartet continue their Brahms’ series with the Piano Quartet in C minor, along with works for viola and piano by Schumann and Joseph Joachim. And remember it’s all free.
Ok, so you can’t avoid a bit of seasonal caroling, but head off the beaten track a bit and you might find some real treats. Fingal Chamber Choir give their Christmas concert on Sun 12 (4pm) in one of Dublin’s hidden gems, the Church of St John the Baptist in Drumcondra, a fascinating slice of historic rural Ireland plonked in the middle of suburbia.
Two lunchtime concerts from the NSO at the NCH: On Tue 14 the RTE Philharmonic Choir lend their considerable voices to seasonal favourites such as Stille Nacht and Veni, veni Emmanuel alongside Corelli’s Christmas Concerto; on Fri 17 the contribution from the youthful Cor na nOg includes Reger’s The Virgin’s Slumber Song, while the orchestra indulge in some Nutcracker excerpts
At the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room, a Christmas series with a difference: Soilse na Nollaig brings together some of the leading lights of the traditional Irish music scene including the likes of singers Moya Brennan, Karan Casey, Maighread & Triona Ni Dhomhnaill, Meav and Iarla O Lionaird, and virtuoso musicians Cormac de Barra (harp), Máire Breatnach (fiddle), Steve Cooney (guitar), Niall Vallely (concertina) and Caomhin Vallely (piano). Concerts are at lunchtime and teatime and run from Wed 15 to Tue 23.
The Contemporary Music Centre are getting into the Christmas spirit with Winter Variations, two free concerts on Dec 15 from newly formed ensemble SoundSet. Featuring contemporary Christmas carols, including new works written specifically for the occasion by Irish composers Anne Marie O’Farrell, Jane O’Leary and Nick Roth, there’s also an international carol by Pawel Lukaszewski of Poland and works by Stephen Gardner, Piers Hellawell and Solfa Carlile.