FolkWorld #69 07/2019
© Belfast Trad Fest & Summer School

Celebration of Culture & Heritage

Belfast Trad Fest

27 July - 2 August 2019

Artist Video
Liz & Yvonne Kane
John Carty
Oisín MacDiarmada
Niamh Dunne
Harry Bradley
Mary Bergin
Kevin Crawford

Belfast Trad Fest & Summer School is delighted to announce the full programme of Classes, Workshops, Taster Sessions, Talks, Lectures, Sessions, Céilís & Concerts which will take place in Belfast between 27th July and 2nd August 2019.

This week long event is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions in a shared celebration of culture & heritage. Descending upon the city in a series of concerts, masterclasses, workshops, talks and sessions, will be a host of renowned traditional musicians, including BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Jarlath Henderson, Scottish piping legend Finlay McDonald, six former winners of the prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil awards - Harry Bradley, Edel Fox, John Carty, Mary Bergin, Michelle Mulcahy & Conor Connolly alongside Kevin Crawford of Lúnasa, John Joe Kelly of Flook, Oisín MacDiarmada of Téada, Ríoghnach Connolly of the Afro Celt Sound System, Niamh Dunne & Eamon Murray of Beoga amongst many, many others….

For five days, hundreds of budding traditional musicians, of all ages, will get the chance to learn from traditional music royalty at the Ulster University, York Street, in a series of masterclasses across 18 instruments. In addition the school will bring jigs and reels to all four corners of Belfast with concerts, demos and talks taking place at EastSide Arts Centre in East Belfast, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich in West Belfast, The Duncairn Centre in North Belfast and An Droichead in South Belfast- with the heart of the summer school and a packed programme of free sessions and events located in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

Summer School

The team of international tutors is made up of master performers with proven track records as teachers and educationalists. The primary means of teaching and learning is ‘by ear’ with an emphasis in the less experienced classes of assisting pupils to develop oral/aural skills in addition to instrumental competency and developing core repertoire. There is a maximum of 15 students per class.

Ulster Songs Traditional Singing Class (Jane Cassidy, Maurice Leyden & Ríoghnach Connolly), The Fife, Rope-drums & Lambeg (Willie Drennan), Harp (Michelle Mulcahy), Pipes (Finlay McDonald, Jarlath Henderson), Flute (Harry Bradley, Kevin Crawford), Tin Whistle (Mary Bergin), Concertina (Edel Fox), Fiddle (John Carty, Liz Kane, Oisin MacDiarmada, Yvonne Kane, Niamh Dunne, Teresa Clarke), Tenor Banjo (Brian McGrath), Guitar Accompaniment (Seamie O'Dowd), Bodhrán (John Joe Kelly, Eamon Murray), ...

Afternoon Events

Willie Drennan

Artist Video Willie Drennan @ FROG

Workshops, Demonstrations, Talks, Discussions: “Session Etiquette” (Mary Bergin, Eamon Murray, Harry Bradley & Yvonne Kane), The Music of the Great Sligo Fiddle Masters (John Carty), The Music of Joe Cooley (Conor Connolly), The Clareman's Trumpet (Edel Fox), The Piano in Irish Traditional Music (Brian McGrath), The Folk Revival and its Effect on Piping Since the 1960s/70s (Finlay MacDonald), Fiddle Surgery (Liz & Yvonne Kane, Oisín MacDiarmada, Niamh Dunne), Playing Slow Airs (Mary Bergin), ...


Lúnasa, Ulaid + Ríoghnach Connolly

Three of the hottest acoustic acts on the planet in Belfast for one night only. Don’t miss this opportunity of a lifetime to catch Lúnasa, Ulaid & Ríoghnach Connolly in concert for what promises to be a most spectacular night of traditional music and song in one of the most beautiful theatres in Ireland - The Lyric Theatre, Belfast..

RL O'Meally Annual Concert

Richard Lewis (R. L.) O’Mealy was a union piper and pipe-maker, born in Westmeath in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. He lived most of his adult life in Belfast where he was renowned as a piper, broadcaster, piping teacher and pipe-maker. His piping was crisp, entertaining and inventive and his broadcasts were essential listening for anyone with an interest in Irish music. Through his teaching and making of the instrument he was central to the continuance of piping in the north-east of Ireland in the early twentieth century. As an entertainer he was widely celebrated for both his knowledge of piping and the eccentric costumes he wore while performing. Tonight we celebrate the man and his music.


Artist Video Ulaid @ FROG

'Belfast Harp Festival of 1792'

The Belfast Harp Festival, called by contemporary writers “The Belfast Harpers Assembly”,11–14 July 1792, was a four-day event organised by merchant class Presbyterians Dr. James McDonnell, Robert Bradshaw and Henry Joy, (proprietor of the Belfast News-Letter and uncle to Henry Joy McCracken). It’s purpose was to revive an interest in harp music and to collect the music of the harpers and note their style of playing for future generations. What was hoped to be a revival proved to be a farewell to the old tradition. Eleven harpers attended. Seven were blind. The eldest, Denis Hempson (1695 -1807) from Derry, was 97. He was the only one to use the ancient way of playing with the fingernails. By far the most important thing that happened at the festival was that a young man from Armagh named Edward Bunting(1773-1843) was employed to write down the music of the harpers and to make notes on their instrumental techniques. He dedicated the rest of his life to collecting and preserving Irish music. He published three volumes of music, collectively known as the Ancient Music of Ireland. Tonight we pay tribute to that event and the Bunting Collection.

Sean Maguire - Omós

The word ‘genius’ may be over-used these days, but there’s no other way of describing the phenomenon of Sean Maguire in the world of traditional music. The Belfast man rewrote the book on fiddle playing after bursting onto the scene in the 40s with a combination of dazzling virtuosity, high creativity and passion for performance. It was a style which pushed the boundaries, nettled the fundamentalists and which he himself called ‘progressive traditional’. Tonight we pay tribute to the man and his music.


Artist Video Connla @ FROG

Featuring Liz & Yvonne Kane, John Carty, Oisín MacDiarmada, Niamh Dunne, Harry Bradley, Eamon Murray & Brian McGrath

Songs of the People

Some of Ireland's finest singers and musicians take to the stage for what will surely be a spellbinding evening of song. This evening’s concert will be hosted by BBC Radio Ulster’s Lynette Fay.

Skin, Wind & Reed

Tonight we explore the repertoires of Scotland and Ireland through Bagpiping, Snare Drumming, Uilleann Piping, Fifing, Flute, Tin Whistle & Bodhrán. Featuring some of the world's finest musicians; Finlay McDonald, Mary Bergin, John McSherry, Gareth McLees, Harry Bradley, Kevin Crawford, Willie Drennan & John Joe Kelly

Connla + Support

Hailing from the cities of Armagh and Derry, Ciara McCafferty (vocals), Ciaran Carlin (Flute/Whistles) and Paul Starrett (Guitar) Emer Mallon (Harp) and Conor Mallon (Uilleann Pipes/Whistles). Labelled as the Hottest New Group out of Northern Ireland, (Chicago Irish American News) Connla have been quickly making an impact on the folk/traditional scene.

Since the release of their EP in April 2015, and album “River Waiting” in July 2016 they have received fantastic reviews at home and internationally. They have already gathered a big following in the UK, Ireland, Europe and the USA. Songlines magazine made Connla their “must see act” for the tour of the UK and stated “A band this young shouldn’t be this good”. Their sensitive and innovative arrangements of traditional and modern folk songs and tunes, have helped them create a sound which is very identifiable as Connla.

Jarlath Henderson
Michelle Mulcahy
Niamh Dunne
Yvonne KaneLiz Kane
Oisín MacDiarmada
Eamon Murray
Brian McGrath

Photo Credits: (1) Belfast Trad Fest & Summer School, (2) Willie Drennan, (3) Ulaid, (4) Connla, (5) Jarlath Henderson, (6) Michelle Mulcahy, (7) Niamh Dunne, (8)-(9) Liz & Yvonne Kane, (10) Oisín Mac Diarmada, (11) Eamon Murray, (12) Brian McGrath (unknown/website).

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