Ceol by the Colligan!

Dungarvan Summer Music Festival back for its third staging

Michelle Heffernan Reports

Over the course of the August Bank Holiday Weekend, Dungarvan will undergo an artistic and musical transformation. From every corner of the Earth, some of the biggest names in Irish Traditional Music will migrate to West Waterford for the third annual Dungarvan Summer Music Festival (SMF). Its Artistic Curator, well-known musician David Power excitedly previewed the 2018 event to The Munster Express. “We wanted to bring quality music to West Waterford, a quality that it probably has never experienced before,” said David, speaking about the origins of the festival. Dungarvan had a trad music festival in the past…but we were and still are trying to offer something different, something of a very specific quality.”

David has been playing music himself for near on 40 years, and although he toured America with a group (indeed he even starred in a Broadway show!), he has only recently become a full-time musician, composer, and curator, dedicating himself to bringing Irish music into local, national and international fora.
The Dungarvan SMF was inaugurated in 2016 with one concert titled ‘Masters of Tradition’ starring world renowned fiddler Martin Hayes.
“We were pitching tickets at €25 a head then, which was steep, but we were bringing in big names!” recalls David.
By last year, the festival had expanded into a three day event, culminating in a level of success unforeseen by David and his small festival committee.
“On the Sunday night last year we presented a new show, ‘The Piper and the Fairy Queen’, a combination of baroque and traditional music and it was a knockout success,” David extolled. His vision: the delivery of a high quality festival, had clearly been realised with Lyric FM recording the entire performance.
Indeed, since last year, ‘The Piper and the Fairy Queen’ has toured all over Europe, with regular coverage afforded to it by BBC 3.
“It was a major achievement,” said David, reflecting on the 2017 Festival. “It was all packed, completely sold out, there were waiting lists..it was very progressive and very cool for Dungarvan!”

“The hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet” –Lunasa play Friday August 3rd at the SGC Dungarvan Cinema for the Dungarvan Summer Music Festival

“The hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet” –Lunasa play Friday August 3rd at the SGC Dungarvan Cinema for the Dungarvan Summer Music Festival

This time around, David and the festival committee are hoping for even more packed audiences and positive critiques.The event will kick off on Friday, August 3rd with ‘Lunasa’, a group that The New York Times recently labelled “The hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet”.“They are world class performers” David underlined, “one of the most famous Irish traditional music groups in the world”. The committee have outfitted a room in Dungarvan SGC especially for this event. “It’s going to be like a proper theatre” David says, “with nothing blocking your view: a bird’s eye view of the stage”.

Lunasa will be followed on the Saturday night by David’s own musical project: ‘Antarctica’. This polar inspired piece recently performed two sell out shows at Kilkenny Arts Festival and with director Jon Comiskey on board, its likely to be just as popular at Dungarvan SMF. “Jon directed the Centenary celebrations at the GPO,” said David. “He has created a film reel to accompany this piece,”, a multimedia production that combines a hypnotic electronic score with powerfully evocative images of the Antarctic.

The festival will then end on a high with ‘Buile Shuibhne’, a brand new music and spoken word performance based on the folktale of ‘The Madness of Sweeney’.David has commissioned New York-based composer Dana Lyn to write seven movements inspired by this ancient legend, using string quarter and uileann pipes to conjure images of ‘Mad Sweeney’, a King infamously cursed and exiled by a saint. “Eamon Hunt will read excerpts from the folktale to introduce the music,” explained David, making this performance a special celebration of Irish culture, its spoken and musical tradition.

Electronic composer Linda Buckley and uileann piper David Power present “Antarctica” on Saturday August 4th at the Townhall Theatre for the Dungarvan Summer Music Festival

Electronic composer Linda Buckley and uileann piper David Power present “Antarctica” on Saturday August 4th at the Townhall Theatre for the Dungarvan Summer Music Festival

Outside of those performances, the festival is also aiming to bring its music out into the open, in a more accessible and impromptu setting. “Last year we had began the Greenway sessions,” says David, whereby visiting musicians gave free performances at key points on the Waterford-Dungarvan Greenway. “Last year we had Maria Gaynor playing in the tunnel in Ballyvoyle, for example,” said David “or Colin Dunne and Tola Custy performing at the old train station in Kilmacthomas. Hundreds of people came along for these free cameo performances. This year the festival plans another weekend of ‘Greenway Sessions’ with free performances by leading international musicians dotted along the Greenway on Saturday, August 4th.

Overall, the Festival is set to present a Bank Holiday Weekend like no other, promising a trio of prestigious performances along with a programme of free outdoor music.
“We’re doing a weekend festival ticket for €50,” said David, “and if a visitor came to all three shows, it would be like a wonderful holiday in Dungarvan, with a thoroughly stimulating weekend of progressive music”. David concluded: “With the amount of work and the quality of every single thing that’s going to appear at the festival this year. I’ve no doubts people by and large are going to be thrilled, excited, energised and stimulated.”

The Dungarvan Summer Music Festival runs on August 3rd, 4th and 5th. For more information on the festival or to book tickets to events visit www.dungarvansummermusicfestival.com

For full story see The Munster Express newspaper or
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