Songbird - an Irish / Colombian collaboration

Songbird - an Irish / Colombian collaboration

Songbird - an Irish / Colombian collaboration
Songbird sees Flook frontman Brian Finnegan join forces with Colombian harp virtuoso Edmar Castañeda in an exciting collaboration influenced by Irish, Colombian and jazz musical traditions.

The coming together of these pioneering artists, musical wizards on their respective instruments and known for expressive melodic playing alongside and awe-inspiring harmonies and rhythms, promises to be a spectacular exploration of diverse musical languages.

Brian Finnegan whistles, flute
Edmar Castañeda


Sean Óg Graham
guitar, accordion
John Joe Kelly

Music Network is delighted to present Songbird, an exciting new commissioning project bringing three of Ireland’s leading traditional musicians together with three extraordinary international counterparts for new cross-cultural collaborations. These unique musical partnerships have created new work for a series of three concerts inspired by the music and cultures of Ireland, Greece, Colombia and Nepal, in a joyful celebration of the migratory nature of music.

The initiative is presented in association with Droichead Arts Centre in Drogheda, Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar and Siamsa Tíre in Tralee this autumn.

Brian Finnegan is a celebrated flute and tin whistle player from Armagh. A past pupil of the Armagh Piper’s Club, his unique approach to exploring the rough outer edges of composition and arrangement is forged from the tradition he grew up in and time spent in India and Eastern Europe which had a deep and lasting effect on his playing and composing.

Brian has been frontman with the dazzling group Flook for more than 25 years, who have recorded four highly acclaimed studio albums, were awarded the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Band of The Year (2006) and were nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award in 2019 for their latest album Ancora.

In 2010, Brian released his solo album The Ravishing Genius of Bones, which won him a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Musician of The Year nomination and Live Ireland Musician of The Year (U.S.), and coincided with the formation of Kan, his innovative quartet with guitarist Ian Stephenson, drummer Jim Goodwin and fiddler Aidan O’Rourke. His latest release Hunger Of The Skin, featuring a genre-crossing cast of 24 musicians and 8 tracks of newly composed original music, was released in June 2020 and was nominated for Best Original Track at the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards 2020. He has toured and recorded with artists as diverse as Cara Dillon, Anoushka Shankar, Bebel Gilberto and most recently Ed Sheeran, on his Divide album.

Since his arrival in the United States in 1994, Colombian-born Edmar Castañeda has made a name for himself as the pre-eminent jazz harp virtuoso. Castañeda brings forth a brilliance that beautifully merges the jazz tradition with a diverse set of styles and genres while bringing unbridled attention to a somewhat unfamiliar instrument: the harp. Singlehandedly Castañeda has cemented the harp’s place in jazz with innovative technique and heartfelt creativity from a wealth of formidable collaborations with music titans such as Sting, Bela Fleck, John Scofield, Ricki Lee Jones, Hiromi, John Patitucci, Pedrito Martinez, Marcus Miller, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ivan Lins, The Yellowjackets, Paco De Lucia and Paquito D’Rivera.

Castañeda follows up six acclaimed albums with his latest recording project Family (2021), which was nominated as Best Latin Jazz Album in the Latin Grammy Awards. Castañeda’s music features on the soundtrack of Disney's film Encanto (2021), which also includes original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Sean Óg Graham is a renowned guitarist and accordion player from Co. Antrim. He is a founding member of the highly successful band Beoga with whom he has recorded 5 albums and toured worldwide. He is also a talented arranger and composer, with more than 50 of his works featured in the Beoga repertoire. He is in high demand as an accompanist, performing and recording with fiddler Liz Carroll, singer Karan Casey, Buille, Flook, Lunasa, Máirtin O’Connor Band and The Cora Smyth Band. He is a graduate of the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance at Limerick University.

John Joe Kelly is one of the most sought after bodhrán players on the folk music scene today. A member of Flook and the Mike McGoldrick band, John Joe’s playing has become legendary throughout the traditional music scene, and he is constantly expanding the boundaries of what beats and sounds you can get from one simple drum. He has been involved in many world music collaborative projects with musicians varying from Tim O’Brien, Kate Rusby and Dan Tyminski to Zakir Hussain.