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Traditional Music hits a high note in Brussels

Monday 15th April 2013 at 12pm 0 Comments Northern Ireland Music

This week (19th April), Belfast born Reverend Gary Hastings – traditional flute player, Archdeacon in the Church of Ireland and current Rector of Galway – will be performing to an audience in Brussels as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Brussels Platform.

In front of MEPs and opinion formers amongst EU representatives in Brussels, Gary accompanied by Kevin Hough on guitar will give a 45 minute performance of traditional music. Gary will share his stories while talking about how his music and interest in the Irish language has allowed him to understand his own people and origins in a way not open to many.

Gary and Kevin are the latest artists to enjoy the collaboration between the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels which involves local musicians, writers, dancers, theatre practitioners and visual artists showcasing their talents at a series of events at the Office in the city of the European Parliament.

Speaking about his traditional music background, Gary said: “My upbringing was strongly East Belfast Ulster Protestant, with all that entails, but by luck I have been enabled to cross the cultural boundaries of my community to explore the riches within ‘both sides of the house’. At University, traditional flute playing and the Irish language won out over the Physics course I was supposed to be studying, though I returned subsequently to do a degree in Irish Studies. Later I studied the music of my own community, the Lambeg Drum and Fifing Tradition of Ulster. I’ve lectured widely on what I learned from all that study and music, the cross cultural and cross community aspects of the Ulster traditions, and the mirror images of each other contained within them.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Gary Hastings is a traditional flute player with an exceptional talent and some wonderful stories to tell. His performance with the noted and accomplished accompanist Kevin Hough on guitar will provide an opportunity to enjoy all that traditional Irish music has to offer. To perform at the Northern Ireland Executive Office in the heart of the EU is a unique opportunity for these musicians taking part in the Brussels Platform and we are proud to once again be showcasing the very best of talent from our shores.”

Gerry Mulligan, Head of Office in Brussels, added: "We are now well into the 2nd year of the Brussels Platform and, with regular visits from a diverse range of artists from Northern Ireland, we have successfully generated some extremely positive feedback. Showcasing our up and coming talent in Brussels reinforces the region's international reputation as a centre of excellence in the arts and I look forward to welcoming both Gary and Kevin and to hosting many more events as part of the Brussels programme throughout 2013."

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