Thursday, October 27, 2011

Concorde & Ulysses

Concorde contemporary music ensemble celebrate their 35th birthday with Up Close with Music, a series of six free afternoon concerts in gallery spaces including the Rubicon Gallery, the Contemporary Music Centre and the Gallery of Photography. Each concert will feature a commissioned composer with a new work, as well as highlighting their extensive repertoire and new compositions from both Irish and international composers, including Stephen Gardner, Grainne Mulvey, Judith Ring, Ed Bennett, Korean composer Si-Hyun Yi and Slovenian composer Nina Senk. The series will pay tribute to the late James Wilson and will also focus on the music of Elliot Carter. The first two concerts are at the Rubicon Gallery on Sun 13 and Sun 27 Nov, featuring commissioned works from Dave Flynn and Rhona Clarke respectively.

For more free music, head up to the Dublin Unitarian Church on Stephens Green at 3pm on Sun 13 for the final concert in their Organ Restoration Fund series. Fergal Caulfield conducts the Ulysses Chamber Choir in a programme of Hungarian-themed music including Brahms’ Ziegunerlieder and Listz’s Missa Choralis. There will be a post-concert bucket collection towards the cost of restoring the beautiful JW Walker Organ, built 100 years ago this year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

String Machine

Now this sounds fascinating: String Machine 2 at Project on Fri 28 Oct – and it’s Free! Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Goethe-Institut Ireland, the concert is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Irish and German traditional and electronic artists, Donal Lunny, Stephan Mathieu, Leopold Hurt and David Donohoe & Eamonn Doyle. New recorded works for stringed instruments were commissioned from Donal Lunny (bouzouki) and Leopold Hurt (zither) which were then used as the sole source material for digital recompositions by Stephan Mathieu and David Donohoe & Eamonn Doyle, with all the sounds being generated exclusively from the bouzouki and zither using various digital processes. That process forms the basis for this live improvised performance featuring collaborations between Lunny and Mathieu and between Hurt and Donohoe & Doyle. The concert will also feature solo performances from each of the artists, and a CD featuring the four commissioned works will be given free on admission. Cool or what!

Sundays@ Noon

Coming up at the Hugh Lane on Sun Oct 30, renowned harpsichordist Malcolm Proud performs JS Bach’s 6 Partitas for Harpsichord over 3 concerts, with introductions from musicologist David Ledbetter. First off is Partita No1 in B flat Major and No 2 in C minor, you can hear No 3 in A minor and No 4 in D Major on Sun 27 Nov, with the final concert featuring No 5 in G Major and No 6 in E minor on Sun 18 Dec. And for something completely different, Sun 6 Nov sees the world premiere of Benjamin Dwyer’s Umbilical, the story of Oedipus, Jocasta and Laius in ten musical scenes for amplified baroque violin, double bass, harpsichord and tape, featuring Maya Homburger, Barry Guy and David Adams.


Plenty of spooky stuff around, given the time of year, with Bewleys CafĂ© Theatre taking over the Unitarian Church for a special evening staging of the very successful Poe Show on Fri 4 and Sat 5 Nov. Devised and directed by Michael James Ford with music by Trevor Knight, this theatrical celebration of the work of Edgar Allan Poe includes two of his best-known stories, The Tell-Tale Heart, a terrifying exploration of murder and guilt, and The Cask of Amontillado, a pitch-black comedy of revenge. Meanwhile if you like a spot of gothic horror with your lunch, check out McAdam’s Torment, a new play by Audrey Devereux loosely based on the legend of notorious Scottish bandit chief Sawney Beane. Opens at Bewleys on Halloween itself. And not to be outdone in the realm of spookiness, dark nights and haunting stories from the ancient festival of Samhain are promised at the National Leprechaun Museum, on the site of an ancient city morgue and beside a disturbed graveyard… Interactive adult-only performances from Thur 27 Oct.

Music in the Library

The CMC have teamed up with the RIAM for series of free concerts in Dublin City Libraries between 26 Oct and 2 Nov. Celebrating Dublin’s UNESCO City of Literature status, Musical Tales features works by Irish composers Rachel Holstead, Michael Holohan, Kevin O’Connell, Frank Corcoran, John Buckley and Siobhan Cleary, who have variously found inspiration in Old Irish literature as well as the writers Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan and Oscar Wilde. Benjamin Dwyer will introduce the concerts which feature the Milesian Quartet and well-known mezzo Imelda Drumm. Catch them at the Ilac Library at lunchtime on Mon 24, Drumcondra at 6.30 on Tues 25 Oct, Rathmines at lunchtime on Wed 27 and Walkinstown at 7pm on Wed 2 Nov.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Darklight Festival

This year’s Darklight festival gets back to the roots in a celebration of the spirit of grassroots filmmaking. Taking place at The Factory @ Grand Canal Dock from Thur 20 to Sat 22 Oct, there’s DIY SFX workshops and a screening of Evan Glodell’s acclaimed film Bellflower, as well as Jeanie Finlay’s Sound it Out, a feature doc about the last surviving record shop in Teesside. Other documentaries include Blood in the Mobile, showing the chilling connection between our phones and the civil war in the Congo, while We Are Poets follows 6 teenage poets from Leeds Young Authors as they prepare to represent the UK at Brave New Voices, the prestigious poetry slam in Washington DC. Irish artist Jesse Jones is the Artist in Focus; and there’s a late screening of the delightful-sounding Everything Is Terrible featuring seven furry, lovable internet monsters who live in a cave full of VCRS and take forgotten VHS tapes to edit them down into easily digestible viral videos.

Open House

Another chance to peep behind closed doors, when the sixth Open House weekend takes over the city. Organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation and running from Fri 7 to Sun 9, there are over 120 building visits, tours and events. Among the more unusual are boat trips off Dun Laoghaire and the Dublin Docklands, Luas trips to explore the North Docklands and New Frontiers of the Green Line, Walking tours discussing the Destruction of Dublin, the potential of NAMA properties and the Architecture of Dublin Contemporary. Some events and visits are pre-book only, but many more are open to all on a first-come basis, including the iconic Liberty Hall, but be prepared to queue. Check it all out @

Sundays@ Noon

Lovers of Brass will be heading in their droves to the Hugh Lane on Sun 9 (12 noon, admission free) for an Introduction to Brass courtesy of Vox Merus. featuring Simon Menin and Andrea Vonk on trumpets, Alex Kidston on tuba, the NSO’s Cormac O hAodain on horn and the RTECO’s Steve Mathieson on trombone. It’s a lovely programme, paying gentle (if that’s a word you can use around brass) homage to two TCD luminaries, the late Joe Groocock and Brian Boydell, with the former’s Quintet for Brass and the latter’s Five Blows for Brass Quintet, both written in 1984. Also on the programme, Daniel Barkley’s up to the minute Five Run Away Together and Malcolm Arnolds 1961 Quintet for Brass. On Sun 16 you can hear contemporary music from Ireland and Slovenia featuring Joze Kotar on clarinet and Luca Ferrini on piano.

RTE National Symphony Orchestra

Some really good concerts coming up at the NCH from the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. On Fri 7 Oct Lithuanian violinist/violist Julian Rachlin, who started his concert career at the tender age of ten, doubles (or should that be trebles) up as conductor in Hindemith’s Trauermusik for viola and strings and Beethoven’s wonderful Violin Concerto, along with Mozart’s Symphony No 35, the Haffner. The NSO step off-schedule on Tue 11 with a 6.30pm concert featuring Bruch’s dramatic Violin Concerto, with the brilliant Catherine Leonard as soloist, and Mahler’s monumental Tragic Symphony No 6. Carl Orff’s ever-popular Carmina Burana is the main focus on Fri 14, with Gerhard Markson conducting the RTE Philharmonic Choir and Cor na nOg, but there’s also the chance to hear Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds, with Hugh Tinney on the piano. NSO principal clarinettist John Finucane takes up the baton on Fri 21 for music from the Napoleonic era including Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory and Symphony No 7, and he’s also the soloist in Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No 1. Look out too for RTE Big Music Week, of which more anon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dublin Theatre Festival Reviews

Donka: A Letter to Chekhov
Gaiety, til Sun 2 Oct
Strong visuals and a quite entertaining playfulness inform this circus-like show, but despite its impressive credentials it never really adds up to a satisfying whole. Commissioned for the opening of the 2010 Chekhov International Theatre Festival and created by Cirque du Soleil’s Daniele Finzi Pasca, at times it feels a bit Cirque-lite, and the links to Chekhov seem pretty tenuous – girls on swings in pretty white dresses, some messing about with beards and fishing lines, and a bit of slapstick doctoring with some gratuitous contortionism thrown in; possibly a Chekhov-imbued Russian audience would get more out of it. Nevertheless there’s quite a few enjoyable set pieces, including some interesting shadow play, with silhouettes looming large in an almost Soviet display, juggling and gyroscoping, a dream-like ice-shattering dance sequence and a very funny horizontal trapeze-act.

Peer Gynt O’Reilly Theatre, til Sun 16 Oct

Who would have thought that rhyming couplets could be so much fun? Or that the bare space of the O’Reilly Theatre could be transformed into such Gate-like elegance? John Comiskey and Alan Farquharson’s opulent set offers a feast for the eyes, all faded Victoriana and bay-windowed grandeur, with a curved central space that conceals and occasionally reveals an excellent live band. Tarab provide a compelling musical backdrop to the unfolding saga of the elusive Peer Gynt, fantasist extraordinaire. Arthur Riordan’s clever new version, directed with gusto by Lynne Parker, has a definite Irish twist to it, with its lilting tunes, rhymes and raps, and while the pace does flag a wee bit in the second half, it’s always going to be hard to match the sheer exuberance of that first act, its wild adventures, flights of fancy and tales of derring-do, of mountain goats and elopements, the devoted mammy, and a delicious trio of troll princesses. A terrific ensemble cast and a bravura performance from Rory Nolan as our beleaguered hero.

Rian, Gaiety, til Sat 8 Oct

Mention the words ‘traditional Irish music’ and ‘dance’ in the same sentence, and inevitably the spectre of Riverdance comes to mind, with its streamlined perfection and glitzy costumes, a remnant of the good old bad old days. But this earthy new show from choreographer Michael Keegan Dolan and musician/composer Liam O Maonlai soon dispels any such notions. Mind you, the start doesn’t look too promising. The company of musicians and dancers are ranged in a semicircle at the back of the stage, with O Maonlai at the centre in what seems like a very formal arrangement, but things gradually take off until the stage is full of leppin’ and boundin’, sweeping and swooping, the way you might dance in the kitchen (if you were good enough). There’s a touch of the comely maidens, in their gunas and ankle socks, with the fellas in tweed suits and braces, but it’s nicely juxtaposed by an ethnically diverse cast and there’s no restraint here - at times it almost feels like a seisuin. Some of the dance moves seem a tad over-exposed, but there other moments that take your breath away – the mischievous teasing of the solo box player, the slow-mo reaction as the uilleann piper casts a spell, or the beautiful pas de deux, a fascinating variation on the slow set. The music is of course top class, with O Maonlai himself particularly busy on piano, harp, bodhran, tin whistle and vocals, and although his voice is in fine fettle, for me the show was stolen by a most beautiful rendition of Lough Erin Shore from Eithne Ni Cathain. As the last notes faded away you could literally hear a pin drop. Riverdance is well and truly banished.