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Altan are:

  • Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh – voice, fiddle
  • Dermot Byrne – accordion
  • Ciarán Tourish – fiddle, whistles
  • Ciarán Curran – bouzouki
  • Mark Kelly – guitar
  • Jim Higgins – bodhran

With Special Guest:

  • Seosaimh O Neachtain – sean nos dance


Dunne & Hernandez

  • Dermot Dunne – accordion
  • Ariel Hernandez – guitar, voice

What is world music? As a genre it grows ever more persuasive, yet its definition remains elusive, as befalls a categorisation that embraces music from a vast area of the inhabited globe. It’s a question that’s stimulated us over the last decade, bringing great artists from Africa, Asia, The Americas and Eastern Europe to enthusiastic Irish audiences, and our best answer is ‘other people’s folk music’. Now we turn our attention to our own ‘world music’ and where better to start than the unique and enduring partnership that is Altan, for they are a motif for all that’s best in Irish traditional music.

Our music occupies two worlds of perception on the one hand, a powerful oral tradition that binds us together in a shared narrative, on the other a small but hugely significant thread in the musical tapestry of the world beyond, in its endless and unifying transaction between musician and audience and Altan are a group that understand this duality better than most. Over the last decade they have traversed the globe, most recently in Japan and Korea, animating the world’s greatest stages with the life affirming music of their native Donegal, the place to which they always return.

Local Ground (Vertical) is their tenth studio album, an aptly named endorsement of local roots in a globalised world, and evidence that, twenty years since their inception, their love of the haunting songs and rich fiddle music of the rugged north west remains undimmed. In performance, they evoke its hearths and snugs where nights are shared, summoning up the spirit of players past, the music moving unfettered between singular reflection and collective abandon. Artistry and conviviality have rarely been so compatible.

Joining Altan, Seosaimh O Neachtain brings the freewheeling sean nos dance of his native Conemara, the highly improvised, percussive and loose limbed antidote to the notion of Irish dance as fixed and rigid.

To start, music that draws from a different well, but reaffirms the centrality of traditional music wherever you hail from. When Buenos Aires native Ariel Hernandez recently arrived in Dublin, he had little save some guitars and a repertoire of songs from his Argentine homeland, but his growing reputation is testament to his contribution to its cultural life. It helps that he's enlisted the services of Ireland's leading classical accordionist Dermot Dunne, a musician who has assimilated the phrasing and nuance of Ariel's music with casual ease and authenticity, and here they invite you to hear the rough hewn folk style of Northern Argentina known as chaquarere.

Doubtless Joyce, that most musical of writers, would have approved of a soiree such as this, replete with music, dance and song, on this Bloomsday 2005. Or as he put it in Finnegans Wake, ‘This is the way to the museyroom. Mind your hats goan in!

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