Irish Baroque group, Tonos, comprises Róisín O’ Grady (Soprano) and Eamon Sweeney (Baroque Guitar). They specialise in a unique blend of Irish and European music from the 16th, 17th & 18th centuries – mixing musical flavours and featuring music from such diverse sources as Claudio Monteverdi, Turlough O’Carolan, John Dowland, Jean-Baptiste Lully and Henry Purcell, and the wider Traditional Irish, Celtic & Spanish Traditions. They particularly enjoy juxtaposing Early Irish music with works by contemporaneous English and Continental masters: highlighting common threads and distinct differences. They are also inspired by the employment of Irish harpers at many European royal courts during the Renaissance and Baroque periods: investigating the manners in which Irish and European music from the period may have cross-fertilised.
Concert programmes are often structured around a particular historical theme, for example, The Wild Geese or The Flight of the Earls. In the concerts quotes from early literary sources are employed (The Annals of the Four Masters, English State Papers, various dramatic & poetic sources): the better to flesh out the narrative and deepen the atmosphere.
Tonos' music appeals to a large cross-section of the concert-going public: audiences who enjoy Early Music, Irish Music, Vocal Music, Guitar Music, and Classical Music. While a Tonos concert is always accessible to the general public, Róisín and Eamon’s performance practice is historically-informed and also attracts those with a specialist interest.
The Spanish word ‘tonos’ translates as ‘tone.’ With regard to seventeenth-century Spanish music it might indicate a scale suggested by each guitar chord. However, the term originates from Ancient Greece where it described a musical concept pertaining to the placement of scale patterns at different pitches. In the modern Greek language ‘tonós’ indicates the stressed syllable of a word, while the resonance of the word resembles ‘sean-nós’, meaning ‘old-style’ in the Irish language.
Soprano Róisín O’ Grady studied at University College Cork where she took her B.A. (Hons, Music and Italian) in 2000 and B.Mus (Hons) in 2001. In 2004, she completed the one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Concert Singing at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, under the vocal guidance of soprano Margaret Marshall O.B.E. She received a First Class Hons. M.A. in Performance at the Cork School of Music in 2008. She was a member of and a soloist with The National Chamber Choir of Ireland for over two years.
Róisín has extensive concert experience including; Vivaldi’s Gloria, Beatus Vir and Magnificat, Handel’s Solomon, Samson, Dixit Dominus, Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day and Messiah, Charpentier’s Mess de Minuit, Schubert’s Mass in G, Schumann’s Reqiuem, Haydn’s Little Organ Mass, Creation and Nelson Mass, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor, Allegri’ Miserere, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, Durufle’s Requiem, Saint Säens’ Christmas Oratorio, Fauré’s Requiem, John Rutter’s Requiem and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. She has performed with choral societies and orchestras throughout Ireland and Scotland including The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The Irish Baroque Orchestra and The Orchestra of St. Cecilia. With Tonos she has performed in The John Field Room, NCH, The National Gallery of Ireland, Sligo Festival of Baroque Music and has been broadcast in concert by Lyric FM. She also performed at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in 2008, and regularly performs with harpsichordist Malcolm Proud. Recent recitals include The Hugh Lane Gallery and Galway Cathedral Recital Series.
Eamon Sweeney has harboured a love for Early and Folk music from a young age. He began his musical studies on the violin at the age of eight, and first picked up a guitar in his early teens. Initially influenced by Rock music, he subsequently studied Guitar with acclaimed Irish guitarist, Dr John Feeley, and received a BMus (1st Class) in Guitar Performance from DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and Trinity College Dublin.
In 2006 Eamon was awarded the first musicology PhD to be accredited by DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. His doctoral thesis investigated the five-course guitar’s role in the court of Louis XIV, a hitherto unexplored area of French Baroque music and Early Guitar performance practice. Eamon teaches and performs extensively, giving concerts, lectures, seminars and workshops, including for Walton’s Guitar Festival of Ireland, Dundee Guitar Festival, Bath International Guitar Festival, Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. He has been frequently broadcast in concert on RTE Lyric FM.
In addition to his work with Tonos, Eamon enjoys performing in a variety of musical settings on Classical and Electric guitars. He is committed to music education and music in the wider community, including Early Years Music, Music in Healthcare settings, Guitar-group coaching and Community Music workshops.
"O'Grady has a beautiful voice, full of emotion... Sweeney was the perfect complement. "Classical Guitar Magazine
Nollaig: Christmas Music - Music from the 16th, 17th & 18th centuries
The Wild Geese - Music of the 17th & 18th centuries from Ireland, England, Europe and the New World
Songs of Devotion - Sacred Music from Ireland, England, Spain & Italy
The Flight of the Earls - Music from 16th and 17th century Ireland, England, Italy & Spain that Hugh O'Neill, High O'Donnell and their entourages would have known
Cromwell, Ormonde, O'Neill & Restoration- Music from a turbulent 17th century in Ireland, England, & France