World-class musicians gather for the second Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music
Following hot on the heels of the stupendous TG4 Gradam Ceoil Awards in Belfast earlier this year, the city is set to come alive again to the sounds of traditional music, when the second Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music returns from 30 July until 3 August. The School is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and brings together both the Ulster-Scots and Irish musical traditions in a shared celebration of both heritages.
A host of renowned traditional musicians, including four former winners of the prestigious Gradam Ceoil awards - Harry Bradley, Edel Fox, Mary Bergin and Dermot Byrne of Altan, will descend upon the city in a series of concerts, masterclasses, workshops, talks and sessions, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and the Ulster University.
For five days, hundreds of budding traditional musicians, of all ages, will get the chance to learn from traditional music royalty at the Ulster University, York Street, in a series of masterclasses across 18 instruments. In addition the School will bring jigs and reels to all four corners of Belfast with concerts, demos and talks taking place at EastSide Arts Centre, East Belfast, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, West Belfast, The Duncairn Centre, North Belfast and An Droichead in South Belfast- with the heart of the School located in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.
Co- founder and Musical Director of the Summer School, renowned traditional musician and producer, Dónal O’Connor, said,
"Every year, hundreds of traditional musicians from the North travel West to attend traditional music summer schools such as, The Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, County Clare, or The South Sligo Summer School in Tubbercurry, County Sligo. Demand is always high and these summer schools attract thousands of participants and audiences from across the country and internationally. But at present, no similar summer schools exist in the North and our aim is to create the unique experience of these summer schools right here in the heart of Belfast. Not only has it been proven that musical ability soars following attendance at a summer school, but life-long friendships are made and old friendships renewed, while unforgettable experiences are had by all who attend."
The Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music is also breaking new ground with the Ulster-Scots community. Pipers, drummers and fifers will have a chance to learn and perform without having to travel to the Republic of Ireland, Scotland of further for access to world-class tutors.
Co-Founder, Ray Morgan, added,
"Pipe Band musicians have never been involved directly in traditional Irish music summer schools and to this end the involvement of Highland bagpipers, fife players and snare drummers in a trailblazing new initiative that will provide fun as well as meaningful interaction between cultural traditions. One of our aims is to encourage and build tolerance, trust, respect and understanding among all cultural communities while having a whale of a time!"
Maria McAlister, Arts Development Officer for Traditional Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,
“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to once again support the Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music through National Lottery funding. The School shines a light on and celebrates the shared, rich musical traditions we are fortunate to have in Northern Ireland. The line-up of masterclass tutors and programme of events is truly world-class and appeals to all ages and abilities. I would encourage everyone to get involved.”
As well as masterclasses, there are plenty of other ways to get involved including lectures, talks, workshops, performances, demonstrations, recitals, sessions and showcase concerts. The Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music is open to everyone, visit www.belfasttraditionalmusic.com for full details and to register for classes.