I got back from Germany this week, after a wonderful couple of concerts and a short cello workshop. The first concert was in the Fischereimuseum in Bergheim an der Sieg.
I started the evenings performance with a short version of my film ‘Living the Tradition’. This new version has be re edited by filmmaker Maarten Roos and we are very happy to announce that it is now available on Amazon Prime to rent or watch immediately if you are a subscriber. Have a look here, and if you are very good, and want me to feel warm and fuzzy about you, you can even give a positive review of it and lots of stars!
After the film, I played some new pieces I wrote, and new fishing related ones I learned especially for the concert… I can now say cockles and mussels in German (Herzmuscheln und Meesmuscheln)… maybe you can guess what I sang with the audiences help!
It was wonderful to have a tour through the history of the brotherhood of fishermen by Dirk Ortmann who is involved in running the museum. He also made everything run smoothly on the night, and took a cool photo afterwards at the lake on a steep incline!
The review sounds good as far as I can tell from my German. I did introduce every song in German, making myself learn and improve!
I also gave an improvisation and Irish music workshop to three cellists from the Bonn area. We had lots of fun and learning! Isabel Grautstuck organised the museum concert and workshop and did such a wonderful job. The concert was a huge success and sold out before the day of the concert. A huge thank you to her!!
Onward to Hanover via the wonderful Cologne cathedral and Philharmonic hall…
And Saturday morning after rehearsing with Jan Allain at our wonderful friends’ place near Hanover on Friday night, we zoomed over to Braunschweig in the Commando Jeep. Jan and I played together for many years, touring throughout all the German speaking countries, France, Australia and probably elsewhere, sometimes 12 tours a year, our first tour being 6 months. We made incredible friends along the way and had a crazy time. We last played at the same event, the Sommerloch CSD day festival in Braunschweig in the early days…1998! Wild to meet people from on the road that I hadn’t seen for years. Wild to see who performed on stage!
I finished my short trip with a day of holiday at Petra and Andrea’s place. Swam, sat in the sun, laughed, basically a rare day of summer for me living in Ireland where summer only visits for an hour here or there.
Thank you to all the people who made the trip possible, especially Isabel, Dirk, Maarten Roos, Jan Allain, Petra, Andrea and Andreas.
I was doing a music video shoot a couple of weeks ago for a duo piece by the wonderful composer and flute player Katrina Emtage who wrote "Wind on Waves" for cello and bass flute. It was made by award winning producer Shaun O'Connor. (some great photos from the shoot are on his site)
The amazing outfits were made by designer Lisa Zagone. As I sat there being filmed it struck me in such a dress I was an embodiment of the Augustus John painting of Portugese cellist Guilhermina Suggia so I asked Shaun to take a photo of me to recreate the image.
photo by Shaun O'Connor
I'm looking forward to seeing the end product of the shoot. Part of it I was lying in a pool of icy water, of course it was the coldest day of the year despite winter being officially over… and there was no hot water in the taps. I can tell you it was agony for arts sake…
I was just sent photos from the concert the Cork Symphony Orchestra played with Nigel Kennedy. I was lucky enough to play a duet of a couple of trad tunes with him in the University of Limerick CH and the Cork City Hall. Nigel is a beautiful player and alot of fun to play with!
The toils of a standing cellist on a dynamic set…
play on forward slope
play sloping right
play sloping left
play sloping backwards
No wonder my back is aching!
So it's good to hear it's worth it in this review in the Irish Examiner today….
Everyman Palace, Cork
While, naturally, the transformation of the theatre, and use of the theatrical spaces, plus the costumes, set, lighting, and the appearance of a cast of unexpected characters, all massively contribute to the success of the production, in the final analysis the music and the musicians are what make an opera.
In this case John O’Brien has, once again, gathered around him a group of singers and players who share his vision and create a most wonderfully effective sound world that totally absorbs the listener.
The sudden entrance from the vestibule of the chorus, the cast, the strolling orchestra and the circus performers to occupy the ground floor aisles sets the mood.
Then, from Brendan Collins’ (Tonio) splendid singing of the Prologue right through to Ronald Samm’s (Canio) broken-hearted Ridi Pagliaccio, which brings down the curtain, the excitement/tension never lets up. I was distracted during Cara O’Sullivan’s lovely Stridone lassu by an incredibly brilliant aerial acrobat (Michaela Heyer) performing over her head, but nothing could distract from the wonderfully exciting, unconducted, Bell Chorus, the drama of Vesti la giubba, the tenderness of Silvio, a questa ora, or the marvellous, Marja Gaynor-led, orchestral playing of both the chamber group and the full orchestra.
I'm enjoying the fantastic production of Pagliacci at the Everyman Palace. Our first night was last night. 9 musician/actors playing a reduced score, all by memory and moving about the stage with the singers. We are gods and godesses of the theatre, surrounded by the clowns/circus troupe and a whole gang of chorus.
Here is a promo clip
The costumes are stunning, by the amazing Lisa Zagone.
Four hours of John Cage in the Triskel Arts centre in Cork last night with the Quiet Music Ensemble. Some incredible moments of freedom, beauty, peace, synchronicity, mirth (that was after in the pub) and incredible concentration from all 'sound artists' involved! I played Inlets with Sean McErlaine of QME and Mel Mercier who had performed this piece with John Cage! We had 4 conch shells each, of varying sizes. Water is swirled around inside and amplified, to create excellent glooping sounds. The music also includes pine cones on fire and a conch used as a horn. 32 minutes of glooping. Plus a short 15 minute version at the start of the performance while kids were around. Phew…
“If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
― John Cage
RTE Lyric F'M's Presenter Bernard Clarke and producer Eoin Brady were there to record the event, and Bernard did a stunning and pure reading of Cage's Themes and Variations, whilst various other Cage pieces were played around the venue, including Inlets, One10 violin solo from the balcony (lesya Iglody) Chaconne (Keith Pasco), harps, electronica of the Quiet Club and more…
To be broadcast on Lyric fm Nova tonight