News Round Up: Avoca - A Celtic Journey

23 November 2016

Music Network was delighted to present the premiere of a newly commissioned work for large-scale harp ensemble by the celebrated Irish composer Philip Martin performed on Sunday 20th November in the Great Hall, Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

Former principal conductor of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra David Brophy conducted a large scale harp ensemble including 40-50 professional and non-professional harpers.  The ensemble was completed with traditional singer Liam O’Maonlai, Aoife Nic Athlaoich (cello) and Cuan Ó Seiradáin & Jacqueline McCarthy (French horns). In celebration of Music Network’s 30th anniversary year, this event was designed to acknowledge the richness of contemporary harp practice in Ireland.

Ahead of the concert, a few of the performers taking part spoke to RTÉ's Six One News. Classical harpist Anne-Marie O'Farrell spoke about how the instrument has evolved over the years and traditional harper Laoise Kelly spoke about the recent Achill International Harp Festival and the appetite for harp music in Ireland.



This spectacular live performance follows in the tradition of the famous Belfast Harp Festival of 1792, when folk music collector Edward Bunting annotated dozens of traditional harp tunes, helping to preserve our ancient harping tradition. As a complementary second strand within this project, leading solo harpers will be filmed and recorded in a studio setting performing the entire first volume of the historic Bunting Collection, creating an audio-visual archive that both preserves these melodies, and through their interpretation, reflects the diversity of practice of today’s harpers.

See the video below for excerpts from the concert.


The Philip Martin commission was one of three commissions in Music Network's Autumn 2016 season, along with ‘Edges of Light’, a new collaboration between prodigiously talented dancer Colin Dunne, fiddler Tola Custy, harpist Maeve Gilchrist and uilleann piper David Power, as well as a new commission by Anne Marie O’Farrell performed by Belgian harpist Anneleen Lenaerts and Greek clarinettist Dionysis Grammenos during their Music Network tour. These new commissions continue Music Network's practice of commissioning and including contemporary Irish works in its touring programmes.