Carrying So Much: Liam O’Flynn and the Tradition

A new feature-length documentary on the great piper Liam O’Flynn was broadcast on TG4 at the weekend. Toner Quinn reviews.

It is just over two years since uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn passed away aged 72, and yet his influence continues to grow, even more so at the moment with the current folk music resurgence, the sound of his 1970s band Planxty an essential thread in the work of today’s artists.

TG4’s hour-and-a-half documentary tribute to the late piper, Liam O’Flynn – Píobaire, which was broadcast on Easter Sunday (12 April), brings the viewer from O’Flynn’s weekly lessons as a child with Leo Rowsome in the 1950s, travelling on his father’s motorbike from Kildare to Dublin every Friday evening, right up to some of his final collaborations. The list of contributors is extensive, from his wife Jane O’Flynn to his original Planxty bandmates Andy Irvine, Christy Moore and Dónal Lunny, plus an array of fellow musicians and composers such as Noel Hill, Shaun Davey, Bill Whelan, Paddy Glackin, Louise Mulcahy and Mark Knopfler. There is also commentary from Leagues O’Toole, author of the 2006 book The Humours of Planxty, and former president Mary McAleese.

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There is No Going Back Now: Live Music and the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic means we are going to witness another radical shift in music in the digital age, writes Toner Quinn.

In the technologist Kevin Kelly’s 2017 book The Inevitable, he writes about the large technological trends that are already up and running and that will shape our society over the next three decades. His argument is that these trends are not especially reliant on the arrival of new products or inventions, but are driven by the ‘biases’ of technology that has already been invented. When we ‘bend’ our society to these biases, we are in a better position to control the technology and take advantage of it. What is fascinating is how we often resist them until conditions suddenly change.
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Can Anyone But Artists Themselves Solve Their Money Problems?

If artists and musicians are ever going to solve their perennial financial issues then it is time for a different approach, writes Toner Quinn.

Last week, an article by the economist John FitzGerald appeared on the front page of the business supplement of the Irish Times. ‘Music really put us on the map with European citizens’, the title read. In the online version, an alternative title appeared: ‘Irish cultural exports helped pave the way for economic growth.’

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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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