Northern Ireland Special
In the last edition of Music Matters for this season Tom Service travels to Northern Ireland to take the temperature of its music making. Starting in Derry-Londonderry, the composer and academic Paul Moore talks about the musical divisions and diversity in the city, how music has reflected the cultures of the Protestant and Catholic communities and how today new kinds of musical fusion and collaboration symbolise new relationships and new hope for the city.
2013 will see Derry as the UK’s first City of Culture and Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Culture Company tells Tom what’s in store. Part of the legacy of this venture will be the Music Promise which will provide equipment, lessons and the chance to perform, to children throughout Derry. Tom meets Dònal Doherty who is in charge of this scheme along with members of the Codetta Choir of which he is musical director. At the Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, a new Irish music and language centre, traditional Irish folk musicians perform and talk about the history of their music.
On the way to Belfast Tom stops off at St. Patrick's and St. Brigid's College in Claudy to hear students perform, including members of the City of Hope Collective - an iniative run by Wall2Wall Music. Arriving in Belfast Tom talks to the composer Deidre Gribbin who was brought up a Catholic in the city but recently used the Orange Order’s Lambeg drums in an orchestral piece. Tom then visits the MAC, a brand new arts centre which has just opened in the city’s cathedral quarter. Tom is given a guided tour by the MAC’s Chief Executive Anne McReynolds before hearing the venue’s first operatic offering – a bill of five short operas written by Northern Irish composers - performed by NI Opera. NI Opera is the UK’s newest national company and Oliver Mears, the company’s Artistic Director, explains how he plans to connect opera with new audiences and new approaches to the art form.
Tom then heads from Belfast’s newest arts venue to one of its oldest – The Ulster Hall which opened in 1862 with a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Over the years the hall has hosted punk banks, boxing, and was the place where Led Zeppelin played Stairway to Heaven for the first time - it’s now the home of the Ulster Orchestra. Jan Carson shows Tom around the hall and tells him its remarkable story. Tom ends his musical survey with a trip to SARC – the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast where he is enveloped in a sphere of sound emanating from forty-speakers.