Island alive with the sound of music

Liam Lynch

Valentia Island is the perfect place for a chamber music festival - compact, idyllic and spectacularly beautiful with an array of unique venues.

For the 2017 festival, held last weekend, Valentia Islanders were delighted and honoured to welcome international musicians Francesco Dillon (cello - Italy, Quartetto Prometeo, who already has a brilliant international career to his credit), Keith Pascoe (violin, Vanbrugh Quartet, and since 1998 has played and toured nationally and internationally), Darragh Morgan (violin, Fidelio Trio, who has a very successful career in classical music), Mary Dullea (an Irish pianist who performs at many international venues and is a director of performance at Royal Holloway University of London), and Fishamble Sinfonia from Dublin, who all combined to bring programmes of chamber music and string orchestra to venues all over Valentia.

The special guest, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, brought the Irish premiere of his recent book of Carolan (1670-1738, who was a nomadic Irish blind piper) arrangements to perform the closing concert on Sunday, August 20.

Cillian Vallely (uilleann pipes) of Lúnasa fame joined up on Friday, 18th, and on Sunday performed a solo set with guitarist Patrick Doocey. Other pop-up events included young Iveragh singers, a 'Meet the Composer' interview and a special photography exhibition and talk entitled 'Irish Traditional Music Captured on Camera'.

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin is a Tipperary born musician, composer, academic and educationalist. As a pianist, composer, recording artist and academic, he holds the Professorship of Music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, which he founded at the University of Limerick.

Ó Súilleabháin, who is noted for his development of his uniquely Irish traditional piano style, has recorded extensively for the Irish Chamber Orchestra and has released some 15 recordings overall. Mícheál performed with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland for the Queen's visit to Ireland.

The driving force behind this prestigious event in Valentia,now in its fourth year and going from strength to strength, is the aforementioned Mary Dullea. She did so in association with the Valentia Island Development Company and funding was provided by the Arts Council, Kerry Co. Council and VIDC.

The Chamber Festival was launched at the Atlantic Villa Band B accommodation of Brian and Jackie Davitt-Morgan of Knightstown. At the launch Mary Dullea played the piano with singing rendered by students Gearoid Reardon (Portmagee) and Francesco O'Connor (Ballinskelligs), who are students of the renowned Cahirsiveen Baritone Gavan Ring.

The Danu House Band B accommodation of Chapeltown (Caol), operated by Karen Hayes, was host to a number of chamber performers.