Saturday 30 August 2014

Ardee Baroque enjoys the recipe for success

Published 13/11/2013 | 05:20

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Michael O’Neill from Ardee and Conal Duffy from Dundalk will perform ‘Hang the Harpers’.

A fesitval of baroque music in a small Irish town might seem an unlikely recipe for success, but Ardee Baroque has defied the odds and celebrates its tenth birthday this week.

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A fesitval of baroque music in a small Irish town might seem an unlikely recipe for success, but Ardee Baroque has defied the odds and celebrates its tenth birthday this week.

The first festival took place in 2004 with Irish Baroque Orchestra (IBO) decamping to the mid-Louth town for rehearsals and two full concerts. This year, the IBO will return for rehearsals and two full concerts featuring works by Vivaldi and Telleman.

County Arts Officer, and founder of Ardee Baroque, Brian Harten said: 'The IBO were with us at the beginning, and it's great to welcome them back again. For many people in the town, it's like welcoming old friends home.'

'What's great is that we've managed to bring the finest of performers to the town, both from Ireland, and from the UK, continental Europe, and the United States', said John Rowntree, Chairman of the Board of Ardee Baroque Festival. 'While it may be a small festival, we think it's perfectly formed, and we've managed to combine great music with a welcoming and informal atmosphere.'

This year, Irish Youth Opera make their first public performance with a concert entitled 'Striking like a Thunderbolt'. Four young Irish opera singers will perform a programme of arias from Handel's operas, as well as songs by Purcell.

'Hang the Harpers' will see two young Louth-based musicians, Conal Duffy and Michael O'Neill, perform music composed in Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries. Conal is an All-Ireland-winning piper, who has performed as soloist with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland in London's Royal Albert Hall, with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in Áras an Uachtaráin, and will perform excerpts from The Brendan Voyage with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland on their upcoming tour to Abu Dhabi. Conal learnt the pipes from Gay McKeown and Sean Óg Potts, and now teaches at Na Píobairí Uilleann in Dublin.

Michael has been playing the harp for eight years. He has completed his studies with the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and has performed with the Meath Harp Ensemble in many prestigious venues in Ireland, including Dublin Castle and the National Concert Hall. Michael has also performed solo for Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D. Higgins, and An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

They will be performing the music of Carolan, Ó Catháin, and the Connellan brothers in the Courtroom of Ardee Castle.

Also on Saturday, November 16, a special concert for families will take place in Scoil Mhuire na Trócaire, at 5 p.m., entitled 'The Labyrinth of Versailles', featuring music and fairytales.

Continuing with the theme of music for young people, the Library in Ardee is the place to be on Saturday morning, when Kids Classics, directed by cellist Grainne Hope, presents a workshop for children.

An exhibition of photography by members of the Mid-Louth Photographic Society, entitled 'Grinding Out Transcendence', will be on display in Ardee Castle from November 14 to 17, featuring images taken during the 2012 festival.

Local historian, Larry Ward, will give a free lecture, reflecting on the life and works of Patrick Reilly, the 'Bard of Balnavoran' on the final day of the festival.

Ardee Baroque '13 draws to a close with IBO's second concert featuring the music of Telemann. Considered by his 18th century contemporaries to be the greatest living composer, Telemann can also be seen as an important figure in opening music up to wider audiences.

The Argus

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