Ardee Baroque will celbrate its 10th anniversary next month.
This was a project that seemed unlikely to succeed but it has. It has become a winter weekend festival that has quietly grown over the years.
Back in 2004, the first Ardee Baroque was unveiled, with the Irish Baroque Orchestra (IBO) decamping to the rural town for rehearsals and two full concerts. This year, the IBO will return for rehearsals and two full concerts, having been an ever-present at the festival since its inception. The work of Georg Philipp Telelmann is the inspiration for the IBO’s programme, with both concerts being completed by two pieces from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.
“The Vivaldi pieces are the icing on the tenth birthday cake”, said County Arts Officer, and founder of Ardee Baroque, Brian Harten. “The IBO were with us at the beginning, and it’s great to welcome them back again. For many people in the town, it’s like welcoming old friends home.”
This year, Irish Youth Opera make their first public performance with a concert entitled “Striking like a Thunderbolt.” Four young Irish opera singers will perform a programme of arias from Handel’s operas, as well as songs by Purcell. For this concert, Jennifer Davis, Soprano, Máire Flavin, Mezzo, Graham J Norton, Counter Tenor, and Benjamin Russell, Baritone will sing arias from Alcina, Tamerlano, Semela, Rinaldo, Orlando, and Giulio Cesare, all by Handel, as well as songs and ensembles by Purcell. They will be accompanied by David Adams, harpsichord, and Sarah McMahon, cello. And if you’re wondering, “Striking like a Thunderbolt” is how Mozart described Handel’s music.
Continuing the theme of attention-grabbing concert names, “Hang the Harpers” will see two young Louth-based musicians, Conal Duffy and Michael O’Neill, perform music composed in Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries. Despite harpers, pipers and bards being under threat of execution in Ireland in the 17th century, some of out most iconic and long-lived music was composed in the midst of this oppression. The concert will focus on music that was created and played in a rapidly-changing society.
Also on Saturday 16 November a special concert for families will take place in Scoil Mhuire na Trócaire, at 5pm.
Many of the fairy tales we know best today have come down to us from the stories written by Frenchman Charles Perrault. His versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella have been enjoyed by children (and fully-grown children!) for generations. “The Labyrinth of Versailles” is a specially-devised concert for families where the musicians use music by composers such as Lully, Couperin, Corbetta, and Robert de Visée to recreate the tales, and the setting of the Palace of Versailles during the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV, where Perrault wrote most of his fairy tales. This memorable jaunt through 17th century France, where Tales from Mother Goose come alive, and the music tells a story, will be performed by The Gregory Walkers, an ensemble made up of some of Ireland’s finest early and baroque musicians. They are Laoise O’Brien – recorders, Malachy Robinson – violone, Eamon Sweeney – guitar, Francesco Turrisi – percussion. And if you want to know what a Gregory Walker actually is, you’ll have to come along to the concert!
Continuing with the theme of music for young people, the Library in Ardee is the place to be on Saturday morning, when Kids Classics, directed by cellist Grainne Hope, presents a workshop for children.
Ever wondered what life was like for a Baroque composer? Did they hum the tunes before writing them down? And what did they use to write with? Jump back in time with two musicians in period costume to a Day in Vivaldi’s life. See what A Day in the Life of Vivaldi entailed, including travelling, rehearsing and composing (and writing things down!).
In between the concerts and recitals, an exhibition of photography by members of the Mid Louth Photographic Society will be on display in Ardee Castle from the 14 to 17 November, as part of Ardee Baroque.
At the start of the summer of 2012, the Louth Arts Service invited the Mid-Louth Photographic Society to work with lens-based artist, Jackie Nickerson, in documenting that year’s Baroque Festival. The exhibition provides a “warts and all” account of both the rehearsals and the performances of the 2012 festival.
What better way to start off the final day of the festival than to listen to a free lecture by local historian, Larry Ward, reflecting on the life and works of Patrick Reilly, the ‘Bard of Balnavoran. Larry has recently published a book containing all known poetry of Patrick Reilly who hailed from Drumconrath, and reflecting on his life and times.
So there are many reasons for Ardee Baroque to look back with quiet pride on the music, the workshops, the friendships forged, and the enjoyment of so many moments. The next ten years should be very interesting.