Music and the Betrayal of Ireland

On BBC Radio 3’s CD Review, it seems that the greatest compliment a reviewer can give a conductor is that a passage is ‘beautifully understated’. I was reminded of this a couple of months ago when the conductor David Brophy appeared on RTÉ Radio 1. He was leaving his role with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra after seven years and was asked to pick out three highlights. Alongside concerts with Lang Lang and Jon Lord, he picked the premiere of Dave Flynn’s Concerto for Traditional Irish Musician, Aontacht, performed by Martin Hayes.

‘It had more of a punch to it…. Only a few days before… the IMF arrived into Dublin…  as a nation we were all feeling quite low.’

Beautifully understated.

The concert took place on 24 November 2010. Six days before, the International Monetary Fund had arrived to negotiate the country’s bailout. Two winters before, Continue reading


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Entrepreneur

Funding for the arts is essential, but without the right approach it can blunt artists’ entrepreneurial skills.

Mary is an artist and she has an idea. Something big. An arts venture that could make a real splash, nationally, internationally, the lot. It could also earn her money. Serious money. She would be her own boss. She would employ and inspire artists, connect them with new audiences, and really make a difference. She won’t let anyone stop her. Her heart is beating with excitement. She is going to do it before anyone else does. Just you wait.

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A Few Days in the Sun?

The Rise and Fall of the Irish New Music Scene

I was at the very heart of the city. The postal code of my office was ‘Dublin 1’. From my office window, I could eventually glimpse the Spire of Dublin, the 120-metre, shimmering, pin-like monument which I watched being erected in 2003. The site of the Spire was traditionally regarded as the exact centre of Dublin City.

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Tell Us Another

‘I mbliana ní raibh aon urraíocht ar fáil faraor, leis an tseachtain ealaíne is oidhreachta a reachtáil mar a bhíonns againn go hiondúil.’ Or, in English: ‘Unfortunately, no sponsorship was available this year to organise the arts and heritage week as usual.’ The note came home from school, here in Conamara. Not an insurmountable problem. It’s a resourceful school and the staff are going to mix up the classes and deploy their own talents to keep the week going. In the past, the funding, mainly public, has been used to bring in artists, musicians and writers from outside.

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A Model Business

The search for a sustainable business model for the producing and selling of music in the digital age persists, but it is crippled by a narrow view of the internet. Presenting this technology as either a threat to income, due to its ability to copy content easily, or an opportunity for generating income, due to its instant connectivity to so many, means other key aspects of its influence on the business of money are neglected.

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Midem 2010

Cannes – The teenagers employed to demonstrate the joys of Rockband – complete with full stage, bass and lead guitars, mics and kit – must have been wondering why the game was suddenly becoming such hard work. Situated by the café area at Midem – the annual music fair that has attracted artists, labels, music publishers and managers from all over the world since 1967 – surely some of them would take take time out from intense meetings to knock out ‘Message in a Bottle’ or ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. The Journal of Music spotted the occasional enthusiastic Continue reading

The Art of Money

How are arts organisations and artists going to get through this recession? This is hardly an ideal time to ask this; the right time was a couple of years before it happened. Nonetheless, as budgets continue to disintegrate, we have to start seriously discussing the funding of artists and arts organisations, and how we are going protect it – what’s Continue reading

About the Money

Our lead article by Dermot McLaughlin takes issue with the progress made by the Arts Council in the traditional arts since the turning point three years ago when the Special Committee on the Traditional Arts delivered its report.

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Crossroads Questions

Ireland in the 1990s. A country in the throes of change and traditional music was demonstrating in musical terms some of the tensions that such a transition creates. Searching albums by young musicians and bands, Riverdance, A River of Sound on television, heated debate in pubs on ‘tradition’, ‘innovation’, ‘change’, and then, excellently Continue reading

Confidence Ill-defined

All musicians and singers are aware of the finely-tuned arrangement that can exist in one’s mind between self-belief and self-doubt. They know there are many different degrees and types of confidence, many factors in its generation, and many ways to disguise its absence.

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