Tuesday 19 February 2019

Review: Music support initiative off to a promising start at Arts Centre

A review of the Radiant Arcadia concert at Wexford Arts Centre

Jackie Hayden

Wexford Arts Centre's new music artist support initiative PwC Spotlight got off to a promising start with one of the selected artists, Gorey singer-songwriter Karen Alice Dunbar, bagging the coveted support slot for last week's Radiant Arcadia concert.

As part of the initiative, four artists form a pool from which visiting acts can choose a support act, the other three being Megan-Kate Doolan, Alice Lynskey and Stone Blind State.

Dunbar has a delicious voice which she weaves around a delicate guitar style that goes beyond the few basic chords. Her own song 'Liar In My Bed' is a feisty take on infidelity and loss of trust, while her 'Marionette' waves the flag for individualism in the face of social pressures. She also delivered a tasty cover of 'The Lakes of Ponchartrain' with aplomb and was a clear hit with the audience too.

Radiant Arcadia are an all-female outfit based in Denmark and drawn from different cultural backgrounds. They perform music from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Danish, Arabic and Sufi traditions, and in a variety of languages.

On this occasion, they added an Irish singer, Aoife Scott for versions of 'Grace' and 'Bean Phaidin'. The playing of electric violinist Anne Eltard was exhilarating, and accordionist Maren Hallberg Larsen wasn't far behind, but what appeared to most captivate the audience was the remarkable throat-singing of Faridah Busemann and the almost scary operatic prowess of Karen Jorgensen. And yes, the Arts Centre roof is still there.

The ensemble gave us a stirring rendition of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's 'Alla Hoo', and the Russian Yiddish folk song 'Tumbalalaika' sparked an outbreak of audience singing and vigorous hand-clapping.

In a world that seems to become increasingly divisive by each news bulletin, this was truly a Wexford Arts Centre performance to remember, not just for the magnificent music but for the audacity of these people to defy such daunting barriers.

New Ross Standard