Created with a mission to explore current innovation in traditional music, the Tradition Now series returns to Dublin’s National Concert Hall for its tenth instalment from Wednesday October 26 to Sunday October 30.
This new edition will showcase:
- the unique English folk band, The Unthanks (pictured above)
- piping virtuoso and founding member of The Bothy Band, Paddy Keenan,
- acclaimed singer-songwriter, Luka Bloom,
- multi-award-winning piper and flute player, Louise Mulcahy.
- contemporary vocalist and visual artist, Ceara Conway, and
- Breton guitarist, Soïg Sibéril.
Now in its seventh year, the series has evolved into an increasingly popular bi-annual event celebrating innovation in traditional music while staying true to its roots.
Among the many highlights of this autumn’s Tradition Now are English folk outfit The Unthanks whose record Mount the Air was BBC Radio 2 Folk Album of the Year in 2015. Since then, they have both scaled up to symphonic levels with Charles Hazelwood and the BBC Proms and stripped down to the unaccompanied singing they grew up with, for Diversions Vol 5.
At the nucleus of this constantly evolving unit is the traditional upbringing of Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank and the arrangements and writing of composer, pianist, producer and Yorkshireman, Adrian McNally. Using the traditional music of the North-East of England as a starting point, the influence of Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony and the Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can also be heard in the band’s unique sound.
Their Tradition Now appearance, which follows two years off the road, sees them showcasing music from their forthcoming new album, Sorrows Away, alongside favourites such as Magpie, The King of Rome and Mount the Air.
Joining them as guest on the night is recipient of the 2022 Liam O’Flynn Award, renowned uilleann piper and flute player Louise Mulcahy, who brings together an exciting collaboration from the uilleann piping, harping and singing traditions of Ireland. Louise will be joined by wire-strung harper Paul Dooley and neo-Irish harper and multi-instrumentalist Michelle Mulcahy. This special project takes inspiration from Liam O’Flynn’s incredible legacy and his mastery at evoking soul-stirring music.
Another great piper appearing during Tradition Now will be Paddy Keenan, winner of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil as Musician of the Year in 2002 who has enjoyed a remarkable career performing as a soloist and in duos and trios following his emergence into the limelight as a member of The Bothy Band in the mid 1970s. Dubbed “the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes” by Donal Lunny and by others as a “piping Paganini,” Paddy will be joined at the National Concert Hall by Clare-based uilleann piper and flute player Colleen Shanks and bouzouki player Cyril O’Donoghue along with Dubliner Éamonn de Barra on flute and tin-whistle, winner of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil as Young Musician of the Year in 2000.
Renowned singer-songwriter Luka Bloom will perform music from his latest album, Out of the Blue – which features RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Award-winner Susan O’Neill and multi-instrumentalist Jon O’Connell (The Walls/Ultan Conlon) – and well-known gems from over the years. Created during lockdown, he says of his latest creation: ‘The tunes are uncomplicated, the only way I know. Each one resonates with me deeply, because of the time that was…. An invitation to play these tunes in NCH is just a huge honour.’
Exploring the voice is integral to autumn’s iteration of Tradition Now and the voice is central to the artistic expression of another featured artist, Ceara Conway. Known for her unique use of traditional song and lament in contemporary art, Ceara collaborates with musicians Kevin Murphy (cello), Ultan O’Brien (viola, fiddle) and Sean Mac Erlaine (clarinet, electronics, piano) for this performance.
The second strand of autumn’s Tradition Now – instrumental innovations – is to the fore for a special performance by Breton guitarist Soïg Sibéril. Soïg is known for his rich, dense, colourful style of playing.He is joined by fellow Breton, bass player Alain Genty.
Tradition Now is an initiative of the Arts Council and National Concert Hall and is supported by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Tradition Now Concerts
- Caoin by Ceara Conway – Wednesday October 26 at 8.30pm, Tickets €15
- Paddy Keenan – Thursday October 27 at 8.30pm, Tickets €15
- Luka Bloom – Saturday October 29 at 8pm, Tickets €22, €27.50
- Soïg Sibéril – Sunday October 30 at 6pm Tickets €15
- The Unthanks and Louise Mulcahy – Sunday, October 30 at 8.00pm, Tickets €25, €30