Masters of Tradition is a five-day festival held each August in the West Cork town of Bantry featuring a series of performances covering the full spectrum of Irish traditional music.
Artistic Director Martin Hayes Banjo Cathal Hayden Concertina Mary McNamara Dancer Colin Dunne Ensemble Neil Ó Loclainn’s Cuar Slow Moving Clouds Fiddle John Carty Cathal Hayden Stephen Hayden Martin Hayes Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh Guitar Dennis Cahill Steve Cooney Seamie O’Dowd Piano Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin Singer John Flanagan Len Graham Máire Ní Chéileachair Iarla Ó Lionáird Uileann Pipes Mick O’Brien
The West Cork Music Masters of Tradition festival will return between the 23rd - 27th August 2017. A series of concerts in the Maritime, St Brendan’s Church and Bantry House will celebrate Irish traditional music in its purest form. Artistic Director of Masters of Tradition, Martin Hayes will be joined by Dennis Cahill, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Steve Cooney, Cathal Hayden, Seamie O’Dowd, Len Graham, Iarla Ó Lionáird, John Carty, Mary MacNamara, Slow Moving Clouds, Mick O’Brien, Neil Ó Loclainn's Cuar and many more.
Toner Quinn, fiddler and publisher of The Journal of Music, says Masters of Tradition is 'innovative in its programming, yet entirely committed to traditional music in its most direct, unvarnished form. For both listeners and performers, it is a rare and vital occasion in contemporary Irish music performance.'
Martin Hayes’ unique sound, his mastery of the fiddle and his acknowledgement of the past and his shaping of the future of the music, combine to create an astonishing and formidable artistic intelligence. He remains grounded in the music he grew up with in his own locality, in Feakle County Clare where the music which he learned from his late father, P. Joe Hayes, the legendary leader of the long-lived Tulla Ceili Band, profoundly influenced his musical accent and ideas forever after. His latest performing project is The Gloaming, a band which has burst on the music scene with a rare combination of Irish tunes, ancient sean-nós song, brave explorations and exhilarating and explosive medleys with a distinctive new sound.
From Pomeroy in Co. Tyrone, Cathal’s eponymously titled solo album, released in 1999 is, according to Irish Music Magazine, ‘spiced by generous touches of blues from Hayden and (guest musician and honorary ‘Dog’) McGlynn, taking just enough from their folk-funk experiences to turn an outstanding traditional fiddle album into a toe-tapping, hand-clapping, knee-wobbling tour de force’. Cathal is also a member of the Mairtin O Connor band who have released two hugely successful albums.
Mary’s style of music is deeply set in the mellow rhythm and swing of east Clare having being fortunate to have played with the musical masters of the area such as Martin Rochford, P Joe Hayes, Bill Malley and Joe Bane. While Mary has performed mostly as a solo musician all over the world she has also toured with The Tulla Ceili Band, the all women group Macalla, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, Catherine McEvoy and also Martin Hayes. Mary has recorded three solo albums followed by a duet album “The Lady’s Cup of Tea” with her daughter Sorcha Costello.
Mick’s music has crossed many boundaries and styles through the years. He has recorded with Charlotte Church, The Dubliners, Altan and Secret Garden to name a few and performed on Broadway with Riverdance. In 1996, Mick released his first solo album entitled May Morning Dew to critical acclaim. His recording Kitty Lie Over with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh was awarded Traditional Album of the Year by the Irish Echo in New York. In 2013, Mick recorded Tunes from The Goodman Manuscripts with his daughter Aoife Ní Bhriain and Emer Mayock. This album was awarded the coveted Gradam Ceoil from the TG4
Born in London, John Carty is one of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians. In 2003 he was awarded the coveted title of TG4 Traditional Musician of the Year, firmly establishing him among the elite in traditional music. He has recorded extensively and performs both as a solo player, in duets notably with Matt Molloy and as part of John Carty’s Festival Band, At the Racket and Patrick Street. John’s latest album releases include Out of the Ashes with Matt Molloy and Settle Out of Court with his daughter, Maggie, on banjo and vocals. More recently John arranged the traditional music pieces in the highly acclaimed film Brooklyn.
Born in County Antrim, Len is one of Ireland's best know tradition singers and song collectors with more than twenty albums to his name - as a soloist and alongside artists that include Skylark, Padraigín Ní Uallacháin and Cathal McConnell. His twenty year association with the late John Campbell brought storytelling and song to a world audience. Len's honours include the TG4 National Music Award for ‘Traditional Singer Of the Year’(2002) and the CCÉ Bardic Award (2011). His most recent book is Here I Am Amongst You on the songs, music and traditions of Joe Holmes (Four Courts Press 2010).
Iarla Ó Lionáird
Iarla was born in Cúil Aodha, in the West Cork Gaeltacht, with Seán Ó Riada a neighbour and indisputable early influence. From his iconic early recording of the vision song Aisling Gheal to his ground-breaking recordings with Dublin's Crash Ensemble and New York’s Alarm will Sound, Iarla has shown a breadth of artistic ambition that sets him apart. A twice Grammy nominated artist, his unique singing style has carried him from New York's Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House. His voice has graced the silver screen, with recent film credits including Calvary and Brooklyn. He is the vocalist with the critically acclaimed Irish /American band The Gloaming.
Steve was born in Melbourne, Australia and in 1981 he bought a one-way ticket to Ireland where he joined Stockton's Wing as bassist. Since then he has popped up all over the place, with a major contribution to Sharon Shannon's first album, and performances and recordings with Dermot Byrne, Altan, Martin Hayes and others.
Seamie O’Dowd’s musical career has seen him progress through the ranks of the Sligo traditional Irish, blues, folk and rock scenes and he has played with Mairtin O’Connor, Cathal Hayden, Jimmy Higgins, Dervish, The Unwanted, Christy Moore, Liam O’Flynn and many more. He has released two albums Headful Of Echoes and Wood and Iron.
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin has developed a unique Irish piano style exploring the sounds of traditional and classical music with occasional incursions into jazz and other world music forms. His recordings include The Dolphin’s Way in 1986, a series of seven CD recordings on the EMI label and his most recent release Elver Gleams: New and Selected Recordings. He was the first Chair of Music at the University of Limerick and founded the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. He received an Honorary Doctor of Music (D.Mus) award from the National University of Ireland and in 2012 he was awarded the O’Donnell Chair of Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
Neil Ó Loclainn’s Cuar
Cuar is an Irish chamber music ensemble led by Neil Ó Loclainn, the founder of Ensemble Ériu. The project explores chamber composition and improvisation within the framework of Irish traditional music. Citing influences as varied as Tommy Potts, Tony MacMahon, sean-nós singing and uilleann pipe music, on the one hand; and the Karnatic (South Indian) music tradition, composers like Morton Feldman, Bela Bartok and downtown jazz on the other, the music disavows the idea of genre to create a boundary less style rich in melodic detail. In April 2017 Cuar released their debut album Roscanna.
Neil Ó Loclainn [double bass, flute] Aoife Ní Bhríain [fiddle] Matthew Berrill [clarinets]
Slow Moving Clouds
Slow Moving Clouds are a Dublin-based band who combine roots in Nordic & Irish traditional music with minimalist and experimental influences.Their 2015 debut album Os brought together traditional & contemporary melodies, evocative Nordic vocals, and layered soundscapes of cello, violin and nyckelharpa. The darkly atmospheric results drew comparisons to Icelandic post-rock legends Sigur Ros and Irish traditional supergroup The Gloaming. In 2016 the band created and performed a new score for Teac Damsa’s Swan Lake / Loch na hEala, an adaptation of the ballet rooted in the Irish midlands. The work was awarded Best Production at the 2017 Irish Times Theatre Awards.
Aki [nyckelharpa, vocals] Danny Diamond [fiddle] Kevin Murphy [cello, vocals]
Photo Credits: (1) Masters of Tradition, (4) Cuar (unknown/website); (2) Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill (by Walkin' Tom); (3) Len Graham (by Seán Laffey).