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Conor Mc Auley

NAVIGATOR Artist in Residence announced for An Grianán

Improvised Music Company and An Grianán (Letterkenny, Co. Donegal) are delighted to announce dynamic Belfast drummer and composer Conor McAuley as the latest artist in residence for the 2023 NAVIGATOR programme.

Conor McAuley works in the seams of free improvisation, post-punk music, Irish traditional music, and human-computer interaction.

His trio ‘mcauley/mckeown/mccullagh’ skirt the borders of free improv, electronics, and Irish traditional music. Part of a vanguard reshaping the sounds of Ireland, the trinity sweep the lines of contemporary practice, foregrounding fiddle and guitar with transcendent electronics in a percussive bath of sound. Their work, championed by Scottish fiddler Aidan O’Rourke, has been featured in festivals alongside the likes of William Parker and Evelyn Glennie, and is known for ‘subverting audiences expectations of traditional music’ (Music Matters, BBC Radio 3), noted as being ‘absolutely special and totally unusual’ (Blas Ceoil, BBC Radio Ulster).

He is co-director of the long-standing improvising ensemble QUBe, at Queen’s University, where he is also a PHD researcher, assistant lecturer, and performance tutor. His activities at the Sonic Arts Research Centre have led to his work being presented across numerous academic institutes, including the Orpheus Institute, Belgium. His regular collaborations have led him to book improvised music nights at independent venues throughout Belfast. The nights feature travelling international artists alongside local improvisers and serve as a way of (co)creating a diverse community of improvisers across the scene, something that is key to the growth and sustainability of experimentation and creativity across the island.

Conor will spend time in Letterkenny this June/July to develop his practice and facilitate improvisation sessions with the local music community as part of IMC’s Navigator Residency programme.

“This is such a great opportunity that IMC and An Grianán have put together. To get the chance to throw myself in and amongst the wonderful community in Letterkenny is such a privilege. Alongside my work developing the drum kit as a vehicle for solo improvisation, I’ll also spend time with other drummers in a workshop setting. I’ll be making some noise and chatting with local musicians, connecting with dancers and artists, and hope to make a visit to Glebe House. I’m also very excited to bring the contemporary sounds of my improvising Irish Trad trio ‘mcauley/mckeown/mccullagh’ to the Letterkenny Blues & Roots Festival.” — Conor McAuley

Daithí Ramsay, An Grianan’s marketing manager said; “Conor's residency promises an exciting journey of artistic exploration and shared experiences, and we are very excited to welcome him to An Grianán. At the centre of Conor’s work is the belief that we become greater by working together rather than as an individual. This sense of community, and the belief in its power to lift us all up, is at the heart of everything we do here, and we are excited to see what emerges from Conor's conversations and collaborations with our local community.”

The NAVIGATOR residency programme is part of IMC's commitment to further develop the national scene for jazz and improvised music, improve artist touring mobility, develop audiences nationwide, and develop creative opportunities and fruitful new relationships for musicians.

Aoife Concannon, Creative Producer with Improvised Music Company said; “As we crisscross the country alongside the NAVIGATOR musicians, we are also discovering new and thriving improvised music scenes, and dynamic artists such as Conor all around the island. It feels like an exciting time for this music in Ireland.”

Further NAVIGATOR artist residencies will be announced in due course.

Follow Conor's adventures on Instagram

Listen to mcauley/mckeown/mccullagh on bandcamp

Learn more about An Grianán at their website:

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