Journal of Music to Launch Podcast Series

Upcoming guests include Philip King, Laoise Kelly, Gareth Murphy and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh.

Starting next Wednesday 5 February, the Journal of Music will issue a weekly podcast interview that will be available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and Soundcloud.
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The Beethoven Connection

The Midwinter Festival in Galway focused on early Beethoven this year, and brought a renowned piano-violin partnership to the west. Toner Quinn reviews.

Music for Galway’s Midwinter Festival (17–19 January) was the first major musical event of the European Capital of Culture celebrations in Galway, although the year does not officially get underway until February. Despite all the challenges for Galway 2020, there is a sense that this is going to be an exceptional year for the city and county. Galway has a strong cultural life already. Add in an additional layer and we can’t anticipate the impact it will have.

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The Harp and Soul of Ireland

Irish harping has been given recognition by UNESCO. It is an important moment for Irish music, writes Toner Quinn.

We are accustomed to ups and downs in Irish music. One minute we are celebrating the recipients of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards, the next we are campaigning to save Lyric FM. One day we are welcoming the arrival of an exciting new forum like the TradTalk conference, then in the same period we hear the news that Galway Jazz Festival is closing.

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Are We Ambitious Enough for Irish Traditional Music?

The inaugural TradTalk conference, a new discussion forum for traditional artists, took place last weekend (16 November). Toner Quinn reflects on some of the issues raised.

Two years before he died, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin recalled to me in an interview the surprise he felt in the 1970s when Irish traditional music became so popular across the world, and how surprised he was again when, in each subsequent decade, its popularity seemed to grow even more.
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Lankum Won’t Let Ireland Forget

Traditional music once comforted us and reassured us, writes Toner Quinn, but not Lankum.

The music writer Barra Ó Séaghdha once observed a connection between the success of the Irish economy and a decline in slow-air playing. Bustling commerce took the traditional musicians with it, he suggested, speeding up and layering their sound, meeting a demand for entertainment created by ‘societal amnesia’ and market forces. Although the slow air did make a return with the economic crash, the essay, titled ‘The Price of Happiness?’, reminds us that there is a significance to the music created at critical times.
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Seeing Beyond

The Irish Memory Orchestra and 26 musicians with sight loss gave the world premiere of Dave Flynn’s Vision Symphony last weekend. Toner Quinn reviews.

On the same night as the Philip Glass Ensemble was performing at the NCH in Dublin last weekend, a very different interpretation of Glass’ music, and a contrasting ensemble, could be heard in Glór in Ennis (26 Oct.).
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There Are No Winners

Last weekend (12 Oct.), Irish National Opera gave the first ever Irish performance of an opera by Vivaldi – the story of a formidable woman subjected to ridicule and abuse. Toner Quinn reviews.

The first piece of set design you notice in Irish National Opera’s production of Griselda (Town Hall Theatre, Galway, 12 Oct.) are the eight screens stacked on top of a guard booth to the right of the stage. A laptop and additional screens sit inside the booth; it is clearly a centre of acute observation. Centre stage is a two-floor setting; above is smart, even salubrious, with white walls, a long table, glasses and bottled water; below is functional: a plywood structure, an emergency exit sign and scaffolding. It’s a tale of two worlds: privilege and power, vulnerability and abuse.
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A New Irish Musical Language is Developing

Just as the Galway Jazz Festival was beginning last week, a surprising discussion took place on RTÉ Radio 1. The subject was Seán Ó Riada and his legacy on the forty-eighth anniversary of the composer’s death. Forty-eight years is a long time and one would expect that we would have a clear understanding of his work at this stage, but the discussion fell back on familiar notions: how he ‘changed traditional Irish music’ (he did not but he did popularise it) and how he never managed to resolve the ‘artistic tensions’ in his music between the ‘native’ and ‘European art music’ (he absolutely did with his Nomos works). So there were not many new insights in the discussion, and we have to ask for how much longer Ireland will be in the dark about its own music if we can’t even have a decent discussion about one of its well-known figures. If we can’t get that right, how can we understand what has happened since?

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Lyric FM Needs a New Vision, Not More Cuts

In Tom Goodwin’s 2018 book Digital Darwinism, he asks the most difficult question of media executives: If you were to start your company today, what would it look like and what would it do? Such is the changed environment for broadcasters and publishers that there are no easy answers, but the starting place, Goodwin argues, is to consider what ‘role’ your company has. Where does it fit into your audience’s busy digital lives? How do they use your services? Are you essential to their routine? Having a ‘role’ in your audience’s lives is a valuable first step, a basis upon which to grow.

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