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Friday, 31st July 2020

SJ McArdle launches Solo@Home videos as part of #DroicheadConnects

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SJ McArdle playing a Stowaway Session on board the Earl of Pembroke at the 2017 Irish Maritime Festival. Photo: Andy Spearman.

Droichead Arts Centre is celebrating its 30th Birthday this week and is delighted to be back open after four months.   As part of #DroicheadConnects, the virtual arts programme which supported art and creativity during the pandemic, Droichead is producing Solo@Home, a video podcast series curated by SJ McArdle between 6 August to 9 August on Droichead’s youtube channel Droichead.Arts.Centre 

Musicians featured include Nuala Kennedy, world-renowned for her creative reimagining of Irish songs and her distinctive flute playing; Libyan-Irish songwriter and singer Farah Elle, whose ethos is to use her extraordinary music to spread positivity and awareness; composer of beautiful and deeply affecting improvisational piano compositions Úna Keane; and award-winning local composer, producer and guitarist Breifne Holohan. 

The idea of the podcast is to give an insight into the lockdown experience of four disparate musicians and present a bespoke home-recorded performance by each.  The interviews and performances are intimate, engaging and unique to this series.  Solo@Home will be available to view on Droichead’s YouTube Channel Droichead.Arts.Centre from the following dates 

  • Farah Elle  - 6 Aug
  • Úna Keane – 7 Aug
  • Breifne Holohan - 8 Aug
  • Nuala Kennedy - 9 Aug 

Farah Elle (6 August)

Farah is a singer-songwriter whose distinctive music reveals something of the beauty in the ephemeral every day. Farah has eclectic influences, including North African echoes from her Libyan background. Raised in Ireland, she moved to Dublin with her family as a new-born child. Her ethos as an artist is to spread awareness & positivity through her music. Farah also holds wellness workshops to empower people creatively through self-expression & sound. While performing shows regularly, Farah is currently preparing to release her debut album 'FATIMA', named after her mother; due to be released in 2020. In the meantime, find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. 

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Una Keane (7 August)  

Una is a classically trained pianist with a background in tech, she mines deep. Inspired by the likes of Max Richter, Laurie Anderson and Arvo Pärt, as well as the pioneering work of the Lumière Brothers & the woodcut prints of Albrecht Dürer, her work lives and breathes in a unique, multidisciplinary space. 

Following a headline show at Dublin's Pepper Canister Church on March 5th, Úna was all set to tour from April 2020 but Covid 19 put paid to these plans, however it has aopened up other opportunities. There's a Live Album from the Pepper Canister in the works, due for 2020 release. Writing has started on a new studio album too, slated for 2021 release and she's enjoying the chance to work on a number of film scoring projects too, as well as a Project that's long been put on the long-finger: A Book of Sheetmusic, drawing on work from her last two albums. 

Úna released IN THE DEEP at the end of 2019, with a launch Show at Dublin's D-Light Studios, as well as shows in Galway, Belfast & London.  Recorded in an old Victorian Railway worker's cottage in Dublin 8, the record explores themes of connection, communication and flow. Minimalist, ambient in genre, she recorded this album on her 100 year old Steck Baby grand Piano using a Tascam DR-44WL hand-held recorder. Each recording was entirely improvised, with no editing. You can even hear the creak of the piano stool.. It's 1848 meets 2019. This was also her first outings as producer. 

Building on her 2017 Piano Solo LP "As I Wake, Still I Dream" which she co-produced with long-time friend and collaborator Ben Rawlins / Saso), this new work expands to include Electronics, Soundscapes and an old Typewriter. Looping and layering piano, spoken word & field recordings means that every performance is unique and creates a level of intimacy between performer and audience. Accompanying projections of her own animated artwork as well as speed-corrected archive film footage has the effect of drawing an audience even further into the music. 

Breifne Holohan (8 August)  

Breifne Holohan is a composer and musician from Drogheda, he has won a number of awards including the Bill Whelan International Music Bursary for Young Composers (2004). He is a member of the Irish Composers’ Collective and the Collaborative Artists Company.

A regular performer of his own work, he has worked with visual artists such as Vivienne Byrne, as well as composer and regular collaborator, Dan Reid, presenting a number of live installations for video and electric guitar. In 2015 he released his debut album Eastern Passages, an album of original compositions for electric guitar and electronics. He released his second album in 2016, San Francisco Dreaming, a collaborative project with poet, Roger Hudson, featuring electric guitar improvisations.

Other projects include co-composing the score for The Dream Work, a Collaborative Artists Company production, and writing original scores and sound design for Kelly-Abbott Dance Theatre productions, Launch Day and Deeds Not Words. As producer and arranger he has made albums with My Fellow SpongesRóisín Ward Morrow and Seán Matthews. He is the founding member of fusion/ambient project, six-string drum, as well as guitarist in traditional Irish duo, Uisneach. 

Nuala Kennedy (9 August)  

Nuala is known for her creative reworking and reimagining of traditional songs and for her unique Irish flute style, formed in Dundalk and honed in her long-time adopted home of Edinburgh. Now living in Ennis, County Clare and with four solo albums to her credit, Nuala is a musical adventurer who is known world-wide as a superlative performer of traditional music.

She has graced the cover of Irish Music Magazine, Sing Out! and regularly appears on the mainstage at festivals and venues around the world. Her roots are first and foremost in Irish music, but she ‘something of a genre bender’ according to Living Tradition magazine and has performed and recorded with artists such as Will Oldham, and on hit TV shows such as American Gods. In 2019 she released a critically acclaimed live album on Ta:Lik Records under the name Snowflake Trio. Nuala also performs in the group Oirialla, researching music from her native North East alongside Gerry ‘fiddle’ O’ Connor, and tours with John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary in the harmony song group “The Alt”. Nuala has a singular voice within Irish traditional music.

For more info about #DroicheadConnects and the Droichead Arts Centre, go to www.droichead.com

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