They are an extraordinary band, big band, big line up, lots of instruments, lots of imagination, all sorts going on … they are something special.– John Kelly of Lyric FM
Ensemble Ériu, winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Collaboration Award for 2015, were formed in 2011 by Jack Talty and Neil O’Loghlen with a view to developing new conceptualisations of arrangement and ensemble-playing in Irish traditional music. Focussing specifically on the traditional musicians and repertoire associated with west and north Clare, the group perform contemporary interpretations of Irish traditional music by drawing on an eclectic range of artistic influences. Featuring Jack Talty (Clare Memory Orchestra) on concertina, Neil O’Loghlen (Louis Stewart Quartet, Clare Memory Orchestra) on double bass and flute, Matthew Berrill (Clare Memory Orchestra) on clarinet, Jeremy Spencer on fiddle, Maeve O’Hara (CNAG) on marimba, Paddy Groenland (Leafzang) on guitar, and Matthew Jacobson (ReDiviDeR) on drums, Ensemble Ériu, bring together some of Ireland’s most exciting and experienced young musicians from a range of performance backgrounds.
In 2013, the ensemble released their eponymous debut album on the Raelach Records label with the assistance of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Deis Recording Award. The album met with widespread critical acclaim, receiving a four star review from the Irish Times. Described as “something special” by John Kelly of Lyric FM, and “very developed, soulful and meditative music from an impressive musical intelligence” by musician Tony Mac Mahon, Jim Carroll of the Irish Times lauded the album as “one of the finest Irish albums of 2013″. Comprising six tracks, the album re-interprets the traditional music of performers such as Willie Clancy, Bobby Casey, John Kelly Snr., and Joe Cooley, and features sean-nós singer Saileog Ní Cheannabháin as guest vocalist on the haunting Seachrán Sí.
Previous appearances include festivals such as Body & Soul (Westmeath), Masters of Tradition (Cork), Féile na Bealtaine (Kerry), Down with Jazz (Dublin), Traid Phicnic (Galway), Hotter than July (Dublin), Paddy’s Day Unlocked at Meeting House Square (Dublin), as well as recents performances at Cork Opera House, the Sugar Club (Dublin), Whelan’s (Dublin), the Dublin Unitarian Church, Centre Culturel Irlandais (Paris), Goldsmith’s University (London), and The Slaughtered Lamb (London).
In October 2015, Ensemble Ériu will begin a national tour of a suite of new music composed in response to selected paintings by Sligo artist Jack B. Yeats. Funded by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Commission Award, in collaboration with The Model arts centre, the music was premiered by Ensemble Ériu at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in August 2014. The upcoming tour, supported by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Touring and Dissemination of Work award, will include performances in Dublin, Cork, Carrick-on-Shannon, Galway, Belfast, and Wexford. Plans are also underway to record a second album of new Ensemble Ériu material in January 2016. Other projects in the pipeline include a collaboration with Tony MacMahon on his final recording, Farewell to Music.
Heart-swelling, surprising, fresh and beautiful, it’s exactly what I look for in music.– Nialler9
It’s music which is at turns both wild and mannered, a sound already with the stirrings of something special within its bones.– Jim Carroll, The Irish Times