Open Dublin Arts Festival
By Charles Acton
THE OPENING event of the Dublin Arts Festival 70, in T.C.D. Iast night was “The Chiefains in concert with Claddagh recording Artists: :Mare Aine Nf Dhonn-chadha, Sean ‘Ach Dhonnchadha, Denis Murphy, Julia Clifford”. In fact John Kelly, the fiddler from Co. Clare. was present (and very good too!), but Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford were not, but no reason was given for the change.
But then this seemed symptomatic of the arrangements. Cormac O Cuilleanáin, the director of the festival, read an opening announcement (inaudible to most of the audience) and told us that The Chieftains’ director Paddy Moloney had asked that we should treat the occasion with informality. This seems to have meant inefficiency in platform arrangements.
The three solo artists spoke introductions to their work, but addressed the privacy of the platform and therefore inaudibly to us. For the second half a public address microphone was provided, but that only meant that the speech was still mostly inaudible because of bad microphone placing, while some of the singing unfortunately was amplified.
Similarly there is no good reason why a reasonable well – rehearsed show should not have had a programme to tell us the items. And so on. However, Mr. Moloney had put the music itself together very well. And he and his Chieftains played with their usual skill and polish. It is a pleasure that they take such good care with their intonation and manage to achieve an ensemble devoid of all raggedness. And, of course, they are all artists at their work, with Mr. Moloney obviously having a strong artistic presence in charge. Indeed a division of his own in a planxty of Carolan was a feat of virtuosic yet musically sensitive decoration.
To hear each of these two singers is always a privilege. Each maintains in purity the sean nos and with enjoyment and artistry as well as purity. For me the climax of the evening was her singing of a version of “A Una Bhán , with a tune totally different from the usual one — a tune surely of real age and strangeness under the full Connacht embellishment.
Dated by John Kelly: April 5th ’70.
POETRY, DRAMA, MUSIC FEATURED
The festival, which will run until next Sunday night, features poetry readings, drama, jazz and pop concerts, folk music and classical music. Next Sunday the Ulster Orchestra. conducted by Janos Furst, will give a concert in the RD.S., Ballsbridge. Miss Veronica McSwiney will be the soloist in a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major. The festival is being sponsored by the two Dublin universities, by Guinness’s and by Bord Faille. The Minister for Finance, Mr. Haughey, and Mr. Dermot Ryan arc acting as patrons.