The Juggernaut that is The Marble City Sessions – Festival Finale, crept into St Canice’s Cathedral on Sunday evening, anxious to cause as little disturbance as possible. At the interval, Martin Hayes informed the audience that this was the end of the meditative and reflective part of the evening and that something more rambunctious was to follow. He wasn’t kidding.
The first half was an evening of gentle but competing pleasures. Alongside all the music making from festival favourites, we also had exquisite sean nos singing from Nell Ni Chroinin and poetry read by the charismatic Paula Meehan.
From the first few seconds of the second half, we all had to sit up and pay attention or else! The Bowed String Extravaganza proved to be just that, and it was a total delight. The line up of seven comprised Martin Hayes, Liam Byrne, Mikael Marin, Olov Johansson, Kate Ellis, a member of Hanggai and Aoife Ni Briain. The idea was for the group to play O’Neill’s March and then each in turn would do a solo and then all would return to O’Neill. So far so inspired, and it was great fun. Then it lost the run of itself (in a good way) and became even more extraordinary. Martin suggested a reverse run (to which the audience enthusiastically agreed). This time however, each soloist could be joined, by which ever of their fellow musicians saw fit. All chipped in at various times with dazzling improvisations and the whole sequence was in essence a musical pass the parcel. This is really a brilliant idea, and so entertaining. It could work as a short stand-alone performance, maybe with a different instrumental line up?
Billed as the Mongolian rockers, Hanggai pushed the evening to a whole new level towards its close. Then, when joined by the entire company for a final medley of Swedish, Mongolian and Irish music, the Juggernaut finally delivered the goods. It was as exhilarating a close to this festival as you could wish for.
If asked for my highlights from the Festival, they would be as follows –
COUNTING SHEEP – RAVEN EYED – SWANSONG – TESSELLATUM (Nadia Sirota and Liam Byrne) – MARBLE CITY SESSIONS (David Power and Malcolm Proud) – THE ORTHODOX SPIRIT and, last but not least – THE WAY THINGS GO (Butler Gallery).
Over and Out.