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Bobby McFerrin Meets Ireland

6 & 7 March 2013

Waltons World Masters Series

A celebration of the musical and cultural diversity of modern Ireland,
and the magic that happens when artists meet and interact.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary year of the Waltons World Masters series, we were delighted to welcome Bobby McFerrin back to Ireland and the World Masters series for a unique two-day event, Bobby McFerrin Meets Ireland. Each evening’s performance was a unique collaboration between Bobby and a small, select group of Irish performers – chosen to represent the creativity, tradition and spirit of Ireland and selected through an Ireland-wide video audition process. These performers had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improvise and perform ‘in the moment’ at the National Concert Hall with Bobby McFerrin, arguably the greatest vocal innovator and improviser of our time.


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Performances

When Wednesday & Thursday, 6 & 7 March 2013
Where National Concert Hall, Dublin, Main Auditorium
Presented by Waltons New School of Music
Supported by RTÉ lyric fm, Sunday Independent, Dublin Conrad Hotel


Bobby McFerrin

‘Mr. McFerrin is a musical phenomenon… Simply listen and be moved.’
– New York Times

‘Bobby McFerrin’s greatest gift to his audience may be changing them from spectators into celebrants and transforming a concert hall into a playground, a village center, a joyous space.’
– Los Angeles Times

‘Aboriginal songlines, Gregorian chant, choral excavations and jazz and blues inventions: Bobby McFerrin trades in soul food. To suggest that he’s uncategorisable is to merely hint at his eclecticism. Truth is, McFerrin’s an artist whose blinding originality has set him on a course that has no maps but is awash with possibilities lurking in every curve of the road.’
– Irish Times

Ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin is known for music-making that transcends the boundaries of language, culture and genre. He has inspired audiences around the world with his legendary solo vocal concerts and collaborations with artists ranging from Yo-Yo Ma and the Vienna Philharmonic to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Chick Corea and Taj Mahal. Those who attended Bobby’s previous World Masters solo performances here (in 2005 and 2008) know that what Bobby does is not an act, it’s spontaneous invention, and each concert is a thrilling and unique event.

The Performers

Wednesday, 6 March

Maire Dee • Dancer
Kate Ellis • Cello
Robbie Harris • Bodhrán, Bones
Emer Mayock • Irish Flute, Whistle
Úna Ní Fhlannagáin • Harp
Nick Roth • Soprano Saxophone, Flutes
John Sweeney • Guitar
Francesco Turrisi • Piano, Accordion, Percussion

Thursday, 7 March

Cindy Cummings • Dancer
Kate Ellis • Cello
Robbie Harris – Bodhrán, Bones
JPTrio (Ted Kelly, Jos Kelly, Paddy Hazleton)
• Banjo, Button Accordion, Cajón Kit
Emer Mayock • Irish Flute, Whistle
Francesco Turrisi • Piano, Accordion, Percussion

Biographies

Cindy Cummings • Dancer

Cindy is an independent dance artist (performer, improviser, choreographer, teacher) based in Dublin. She trained in both dance and theatre in Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and New York City before she emigrated to Ireland and began creating collaborative work with artists from other disciplines. Some of her previous collaborators include musicians/composers Tommy Hayes, Ronan Browne, Roger Doyle, Trevor Knight, Martin Brunsden, Dave Boyd and Nico Brown; visual artists Andrew Duggan, Alice Maher, Amelia Stein and Oonagh Kearney; and writers Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Michael Harding. Her performance work ranges from pure music and dance improvisations to evening-length shows using interactive technologies to site-specific multi-media works combining different dance techniques.

Maire Dee • Dancer

Maire began her dance training at the Durkin-Dodd school of Irish dancing and continued her education in the London Studio Centre, where she received an honours BA in Dance Theatre. Her studies there included ballet, jazz, hip-hop, acting and partner work, while specialising in contemporary dance. After graduating, she won the prestigious Elizabeth West award for Most Promising Choreographer. Maire has performed with companies such as Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Company, Intoto Dance Company, Rock and Reel’s Dance Company and in festivals such as the Wexford Opera Festival, 1000 Funkel (Germany), Kentish Town Festival and Sum of Parts at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Her main area of interest is choreography, and she particularly enjoys exploring how improvisation can be used not only in the creative process of dance work but in the actual performance as well. ‘I love dancing purely on instinct and letting the music completely dictate the movement that my body does.’

Kate Ellis • Cello

Kate was surrounded by music from an early age, and with the radio playing constantly at home she developed an eclectic taste in music. After studies at the Purcell School and the junior department of the Royal College of Music in London, she moved to Dublin and graduated from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. With an interest in contemporary music from her time at the Purcell School, Kate joined the Crash Ensemble in 2002 and has since joined a revolving cast of new music groups for various performances and recordings. She has worked with a diverse range of artists and groups, including Karan Casey, Gavin Friday, Tarab and Yurodny – and continues to tour and perform extensively throughout Ireland, Europe, the US and Australia. She is co-curator of the innovative ‘Kaleidoscope Night’ series, and as musician in residence at the Cork Opera House has been given a platform to perform and curate her own nights of music. More recently she was appointed co-artistic director of the Crash Ensemble.

Robbie Harris • Bodhrán, Bones

Robbie Harris is one of Ireland’s most accomplished bodhrán players and percussionists. Over the years he has worked with a diverse range of artists and groups, including Bobby McFerrin, Clannad, Bob Geldof, Steve Cooney, Dónal Lunny, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Brian Kennedy, Luka Bloom, Celtic Woman, The High Kings, Emer Mayock, Hector Zazou, Theodosii Spassov, Pedram Khavar Zamini, Mamady Keita and the Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan, as well as in a number of theatre and film productions. After touring extensively with Riverdance – The Show, he joined the Broadway production in New York, and while living there he was a guest lecturer at both the Juilliard School and the New School. Robbie was musical director of the Rhythm Corporation and for the St. Patrick’s Festival’s production City Fusion, a massive piece of street theatre with 250 performers from 30 different countries, and he is co-director (with Brian Fleming) of the annual Big Bang Festival ofMRhythm, which celebrates diverse styles of drumming from around the world. In 2000 he compiled and released the double album Pure Bodhrán, a collection of nineteen of the leading exponents of the drum from all over Ireland.

JPTrio • Banjo, Accordion, Cajón Kit

JPTrio are brothers Ted Kelly (banjo) and Jos Kelly (button accordion), as well as Paddy Hazleton (cajón kit). They came together while at Sligo Grammar school, where Jos is this year studying for his Leaving Certificate. According to Ted: ‘Jos and I have played together since we can barely remember. We were all born in Sligo apart from Paddy, who was one of two boys adopted from an orphanage in Uganda. I met Paddy when I was 14. He moved to Sligo Grammar School in our second year. I’ll never forget meeting him. I was sitting in the class with my banjo, and Paddy came in with a bodhrán that only an American tourist would buy, but boy could he play it!’ They developed as both performers and arrangers during their time with Fred Finn Comhaltas and Ceol na nÓg (a Sligo based orchestra), and three years of competing in the Siansa Gael Linn competition for young traditional bands helped them evolve as group musicians (they were the winning group in 2009 at Spraoi), culminating in 2011 performances at Electric Picnic and at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, where they won the ‘Best Newcomer’ award.

Emer Mayock • Irish Flute, Whistle

Emer is a musician and composer from Co. Mayo. She began to play traditional music during her childhood on a range of instruments including the flute, low whistle, fiddle and uilleann pipes. She has collaborated with a number of prominent musicians and groups, including Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, the late Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, Cormac Breathnach, John Doyle, Breton flautist Jean-Michel Veillon, Alan Stivell, Nitin Sawhney, Flook!, the Irish Chamber Choir, Italian baroque ensemble il Giardino Armonico, the Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan and most recently Tarab – a collaboration with Francesco Turrisi, Nick Roth, Kate Ellis and Robbie Harris. In addition to her group work, Emer has recorded two albums of her own, Merry Bits of Timber and Playground , the latter consisting mostly of her own compositions. She is currently working with uilleann piper Mick O’Brien and fiddle player Aoife Ní Bhriain, exploring and recording tunes from the Goodman Manuscripts collected in Munster in the 1860s. An album of this music, Tunes from the Goodman Manuscripts, has just been released.

Úna Ní Fhlannagáin • Harp

Úna is a harper-composer and singer from Co. Galway. An instrumentalist of verve and imagination, she is rooted in diverse musical influences such as the dance music tradition of North Clare, the sean-nós singing style of Maigh Seóla, the American post-minimalists and free jazz. She has performed throughout Ireland, Europe, North America and the Middle East, winning multiple prizes at the All-Ireland Fleadh, Keadue International Harp Festival, Oireachtas, O’Carolan Harp Festival and Granard Harp Festival along the way. While studying for a first-class honours university degree, she branched into jazz and contemporary music, studying and performing with Anthony Braxton, the legendary free jazz musician and composer. Since then she has won a commission from the World Harp Congress, had one of her pieces published by Cairde Na Cruite, and performed her own compositions in Ireland, Croatia, Canada and the US. Úna strives to mine the richness of her native tradition, explore the potential of her instrument, and respectfully engage with other genres – in short, to play music that makes you feel good.

Nick Roth • Soprano Saxophone, Flutes

Born into a musical family in London, Nick moved to Dublin in 2001 and has since become one of the most active musicians on the Irish and European music scene, working as a musician, composer, educator and producer. Now working internationally, his 2012-2013 performance schedule includes New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Istanbul, Oslo, Berne, London, Dublin and the Festival au Desert in Mali. He has worked on three continents with many of the world’s leading contemporary performers and composers, and he written works for numerous ensembles, organisations and musicians including the Arts Council of Ireland, Music for Galway, the Vienna Saxophonic Orchestra, ARTE Quartet, SoundSet, the Contempo String Quartet and Paul Roe, the Sefiroth Ensemble, the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra, Yurodny, Lismore Music Festival, RISE Saxophone Quartet, Tarab, Common Ground, Rough Magic Theatre Company and Fuzzy Logic. He is musical director of both Yurodny and the London-based Sefiroth Ensemble. As head of production at Diatribe Records and as an individual recording artist, Nick has a discography of eighteen critically acclaimed albums. He currently lectures on Aural Perception and Eastern European Traditional Music at several Irish universities.

John Sweeney • Guitar

A veteran of the Irish music scene, John comes from a musical family and has been studying and playing guitar for over thirty years. He studied composition and flatpick technique at the Scarborough School of Guitar in Toronto, Canada; flamenco guitar with Miguel Escudero Lopez in Seville, Spain; and traditional music at St. Enda’s Folk Park & Museum. John works in many different styles, including Irish traditional, rock and jazz, and he has performed and recorded with a number of Irish groups, gigging extensively throughout Ireland, Canada, the UK, the US and Spain. He is a multi-instrumentalist, and in addition to guitar he also plays bass, banjo, bodhrán and tin whistle.

Francesco Turrisi • Piano, Accordion, Percussion

Francesco left his native Italy in 1997 to study jazz piano and early music at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Since then he has collaborated with the celebrated early music ensemble L’Arpeggiata, and he is the leader and founder of several Irish and international groups that have pushed the boundaries of jazz, Irish music, world music and early music, including Tarab, Sarabanda, T.R.E., Gato Azul, Zahr and Morisca. His collaborations include such artists from jazz, world and early music as Dave Liebman, Gianluigi Trovesi, Nils Landgren, Gabriele Mirabassi, Savina Yannatou, Maria Pia de Vito, Theodosii Spassov, the King’s Singers, Veronique Gens, Philippe Jaroussky, Pepe Habichuela, Lucilla Galeazzi and Bijan Chemirani. Francesco has released two piano trio albums, Si dolce e’ il Tormento and Fotografia, and his first CD with Tarab was released in 2011 on his own label Taquin Records. (The Irish Times commented: ‘Not perhaps since Andy Irvine’s celebrated East Wind in 1992 has there been such a convincing reorientation of the Irish tradition.’) His upcoming projects include the release of an album with Italian trumpet player Fulvio Sigurta, recordings with sean-nós singer Róisín El Safty and a collaboration with Barry Guy and Maya Homburger.

Audience Comments

‘I attended the Waltons World Masters concert by Bobby McFerrin in the Concert Hall last evening (Wednesday) and just wanted to thank Waltons for allowing such a unique and wonderful night of music to happen. By any standards this was a most extraordinary and special musical event that it was a privilege to experience. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Waltons for the amazing artists and music that you have brought to Dublin under the World Masters series and which we would never have heard here had it not been for the passion of Waltons for music generally. Combining Bobby McFerrin with a group of traditional Irish musicians was another example of the vision of Waltons in supporting courageous music making beyond commercial considerations and last night’s concert proved how rewarding that can be. Thanks again and keep up the great work – we need it more than ever these days.’
– Derek Cunningham

‘Dear Magical Mr McFerrin,
We four 70+ year-olds who have just spent two über joyous evenings in your presence while it poured rain incessantly outside (this being Ireland) want to thank you from the bottom of our still madly joyful hearts. You encouraged the musicians to ‘play’ with music, and your whole captivated audience took that on board for sure. And it reminded us of the wisdom of the saying., ‘It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.’ We were returned to our four-year-old selves and the spontaneous joy of letting music surge through our bodies and flow out in musical noises. You are lucky enough never to have left that childhood place, and you led us back there like the Pied Piper.
No doubt you have seen the allusion to T.S. Eliot’s Mr. Mistoffelees in our address to you – of whom it is written,  he ‘can perform many feats of magic that no other cat can do’, and ‘the magical cat restores the light’ and is among the liveliest and most winsome of all Eliot’s felines. Maybe it was the stage backdrop of night and stars that brought the comparison to mind, but it was also the spirit/Spirit as the energy that moves the Universe into which you connected us – and which continues to brighten our lives.
We hope that the joy and delight that you spread across the world comes home to nurture you a thousandfold.’
– Ann, Jo, Celine, and ‘our gang’

Selected YouTube Videos

Bobby McFerrin
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