ARTS AND FEATURES — 24 October 2013

Crossharbour

Now in its 15th year, the Return to Camden Town Festival returns with a line-up of its usual high standard.

Like last year, London’s 19-times All Ireland Champion Oralith McAuliffe will entertain the crowd on the opening night of Return to Camden Town. This time it will be with her band, Crossharbour.  Tradconnect’s Tony Lawless says: “I saw the future of trad music and its name is Crossharbour. The line-up of the band is completed by acclaimed Nottingham performer Sam Proctor, Tad Sargent on bodhran, multi-instrumentalist Philippe Barnes and the most recent addition of singer, Rosie Hogson.

On Saturday evening, London Irish Centre will be host to June McCormack and Michael Rooney. June won the senior flute competition at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in 1998 and was presented with the Young Traditional Musician of the Year award by TG4. Michael is widely regarded as one of the finest exponents of the Irish harp on the scene. Both June and Michael will also be leading workshops in their respective instruments.

Event organiser Karen Ryan’s The London Lasses will also be in concert at the Irish Centre on Saturday. Widely regarded as the best female group in Irish traditional music, The London Lasses will be joined by highly regarded Leeds-born accompanist Chris O’Malley.

Edel Fox and Neill Byrne

Donegal Duo Tara Connaghan and Ronan Galvin will delight the Irish Centre crowd on Sunday. Tara and Ronan have been playing together for many years.

Exciting duo Edel Fox and Neill Byrne will launch their album on Sunday  at the Irish Centre. Edel won the TG4 Young Musician of the Year Award in 2004 at only 18 and has since toured with Cherish the Ladies and The Kane Sisters among others.

Noreen O’Sullivan, one of the finest whistle players and sister of the legendary fiddle player, Frankie Gavin, is making one of her rare concert appearances.

Other highlights of the festival of include John Carty Festival Band, Star of Munster Ceili Band, Sean Gilrane giving a talk about John McKenna: The Life of legendary Leitrim flute player, fiddle player Dónal McCague, who launches his debut CD, Bits ‘n’ Pieces with Michael McCague and uilleann piper Caoimhín Ó Fearghail.

The great Massachusetts accordion player Colm Gannon will also launch his album with folk singer and bouzouki, guitar and banjo player from Dublin Daoiri Farrell.

There are a wide range of workshops and events that run throughout the weekend. For more information, go to: http://www.returntocamden.org/.

Donal Lunny, John Carty and Seamus Begley

From Leitrim to London

On Sunday October 27, over twenty of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians are coming together for a special concert and launch of The Leitrim Equation 3 CD. The concert, which is supported by Waterways Ireland, is part of the 2013 Return to Camden Town Festival in Camden’s London Irish Centre. It is the culmination of a residency by leading traditional musicians Dónal Lunny, John Carty and Séamus Begley in the county of Leitrim over the last eighteen months.

In 2006, Leitrim County Council Arts Office, with the support of the Arts Council of Ireland, devised a programme called The Leitrim Equation. Ireland’s most respected and talented traditional music groups were invited to spend time in the county working with musicians and groups, culminating in the recording of a CD. This process would celebrate music in Leitrim and of Leitrim, contribute to the professional development of musicians and act as a focal point for the development of music in Leitrim generally.

The first two residencies were led by traditional music ‘super-groups’ Lúnasa and Dervish. Lúnasa’s Kevin Crawford spoke passionately about it when The Irish World interviewed him recently, saying it was one of the highlights of his career.

For the third residency, a group of musicians who are individual legends in the world of traditional music were brought together in Leitrim. They were Dónal Lunny, on bouzouki and guitar, Séamus Begley on accordion and vocals, John Carty on fiddle, banjo and tenor guitar, together with special guest, Leitrim native and 2012 TG4 Musician of the year, Brian Rooney on fiddle.

The group relished coming together in Leitrim, due to the richness of traditional music there and the opportunity to play with musicians from Leitrim they regard as ‘greats’ in Irish music. They came for the welcome and camaraderie for which County Leitrim is known and which they enjoyed the length and breadth of the county. They brought with them a genuine desire to share the skills and experience they have gathered during their careers with the next generation of Leitrim musicians.

The residency draws to a close this October with the launch of a CD recorded by the group, together with a host of Leitrim musicians. The CD, entitled The Leitrim Equation 3, consists of a selection of tunes by composers from, or connected with County Leitrim from as far back as O’Carolan, through Joe Liddy, to present day masters such as Charlie and Maurice Lennon, together with newly composed tunes by the group and other local musicians. The CD features some familiar as well as less well known Leitrim tunes, which were uncovered during the residency. They are all performed by the group and some of the Leitrim musicians they met and worked with during their time in the county.

The launch will be celebrated with a Gala Concert hosted by the 2013 Return to Camden Town Festival at the London Irish Centre on Sunday October 27. There are a number of special connections to London which make this particularly fitting.

Special guest, Leitrim fiddle player Brian Rooney has spent most of his life in London. In recent years he has received wide acclaim, most notably in 2012, when he received traditional music’s highest accolade, the TG4 Musician of the Year Award.

John Carty, a previous recipient of the same award, migrated in the opposite direction. He was born in London and is now firmly ensconced in the northwest of Ireland.

Niall Keegan, director of the MA in Traditional Music Performance at Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, is another London native whose family hails from Leitrim. Niall provided invaluable help to shape the residency in its early days.

Séamus Begley is another member of the group to have received a TG4 award as he is 2013 TG4 Singer of the Year. He brings his extraordinary talent on the accordion and stunning vocals to the project.

From Planxty to the Bothy Band, Dónal Lunny, internationally renowned for his ground-breaking contribution to Irish music, has in recent years become equally highly regarded as a producer. With this programme, has played a leading role in the development of young musicians, as well as producing the The Leitrim Equation 3 CD itself.

Coinciding with the concert, Leitrim Tourism is launching a search for Leitrim Ambassadors in the UK on the same day as the concert. The initiative encourages people in the UK to think of Leitrim as a holiday destination.

The Leitrim Equation concert starts at 8.00pm on Sunday 27 October, at the London Irish Centre London Irish Centre, 50-52 Camden Square. Tickets are £15 (£12 concession) and they can be booked through the Festival Box Office by calling 07871 088121. For further information, please visit the Return to Camden Town Festival website at www.returntocamden.org<http://www.returntocamden.org>.

Return to Camden Town Festival takes place October 25-27 and November 1-3.

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