Piper Mick O'Brien during rehearsals for Michael Holohan’s forthcoming concert and new album “The Road to Lough Swilly”at St. Peter's Church of Ireland. Photo: Andy Spearman.
I heard music wafting from St. Peter’s Church of Ireland earlier this week so, ever curious, I went inside looking for the source.
There I found local composer Michael Holohan standing on a box near the top of the church conducting a collection of musicians, some of whom I recognised, others not.
Sitting in a pew for a while in that lovely building listening to the music was a welcome break from the outside world but the music kept stopping and starting.
Michael is preparing for a concert of some of his latest work which will take place in St. Peter’s during the Fleadh, on Tuesday 14th August at 6. 00pm to be precise, and he was rehearsing with some very eminent musicians indeed.
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Among the assembled musicians were The RTE Contempo Quartet: Bogdan Sofei - violin, Ingrid Nicola - violin , Andreea Banciu - viola, Adrian Mantu – cello, The Boyne Chamber Orchestra and Cormac O'Broin – cello. But for me the soaring notes from the internationally acclaimed Uilleann piper Mick O'Brien were the highlight.
It was a joy to listen as they played sections of Michael’s new piece “The Road to Lough Swilly” again and again fine-tuning their delivery. I couldn’t help but play along with my silently tapping toes.
Every time Mick’s pipes soared it was like an epiphany. Maybe it was the surroundings, maybe I was getting religion, I don’t know; but to my ears at least, the music was sublime.
Next month’s concert will feature arrangements of songs, airs and tunes with a special connection to Drogheda and the locality including 'The Bonny Light Horseman', 'Sweet Duleek Gate' and 'Dark Loch na Garr', a beautiful air given to the composer by the concertina player Jim McArdle and the renowned Clare fiddler, the late Joe Ryan who lived in Drogheda in later life.
But Michael has a lot of work to do before that, he is also recording the music for a double album which has to be ready before the concert and it’s going to be accompanied by a 32-page booklet.
You can find out more about this concert and everything else that’s in store during the Fleadh at fleadhcheoil.ie
Here’s just a snippet of the rehearsal, apologies about the quality of the video.