Donal Lunny was an Artist-in-Residence at the Irish World Academy, University of Limerick. He is the first traditional music-linked member of the Irish Arts Council-sponsored Aosdána and has been a central thread in the tapestry of Irish traditional music in its most creative interactive modes over a generation. He was was born in Tullamore Co Offaly before moving to Newbridge, County Kildare. In 1971, he was one of the founding members of Planxty, for whom he wrote the countermelodies and arranged harmonic structures and chord patterns for guitar and harmonium. He also played bouzouki, guitar, keyboards and bodhráns on all Planxty’s recordings. ‘Planxty’ recorded three albums in the period 1971-1973 and redefined traditional Irish music. Their albums included ‘Cold Blow and the Rainy Night’ and ‘The Well below the Valley’. In 1975, he joined the Bothy Band, producing four albums in four years including ‘Out of the Wind and in to the Sun’ and ‘After Hours’. In 1980, Planxty reformed and Donal produced the three resulting albums before finally forming Moving Hearts with some of his former Planxty band-mates. Moving Hearts’, who were responsible for such albums as ‘Dark End of the Street’ and ‘The Storm,’ were a hybrid, incorporating contemporary folk music, jazz and other influences with elements of rock. Donal has also composed for stage and television including the soundtrack for ‘Eat the Peach’ (1985) and ‘This is my Father’ (1997) and the opening title music for the series ‘Bringing it all Back Home’ (1991) and ‘River of Sound’ (1997). In 1996 he won the IRMA Producer of the Year award and in 1998, the National Entertainment Award.
As a composer and performer, Ryan’s work has been performed to international audiences on four continents for over ten years, including major concert venues such as Tanglewood (U.S.A.), Lucerne Hall, KKL (Switzerland), Kölner Philharmonic (Germany), Holywell Music Room (England) and Waterfront Hall (N. Ireland). From Pomeroy in Co. Tyrone, Ryan began his musical life on the fiddle, taught by Bríd Harper. The piano soon followed in his teenage years and it is in vampology that Ryan now specialises. Described by the Irish Times as “…the funkiest piano this side of Dr John” and a “…secret weapon on rhythm” by the Irish Echo, Ryan has recorded on many critically acclaimed albums, amongst them Humdinger, with noted musicians Paul Brock and Enda Scahill, Tight Squeeze as a member of the Dave Munnelly Band, and The Dusty Bridge and Wayfaring with Fergal Scahill. In great demand as an accompanist, Ryan’s repertoire spans numerous genres from traditional Irish music to contemporary classical music. The confluence of these two genres formed the basis of his recently completed a PhD in composition at Queen’s University, Belfast, studying under Simon Mawhinney and Piers Hellawell.
Ryan is currently supported by a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship in association with Moving on Music. His recent compositions including Gortnagarn, Séamsur II and Third Epistle to Timothy, have been performed by EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, Konvergence Ensemble and the Ulster Orchestra, amongst others. Ryan’s work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Radio Ulster, RTÉ Lyric FM, Radio 1 and Ráidió na Gaeltachta as well as on BBC 2, UTV and BBC World.
Conal O’Kane grew up in South Philadelphia, where he was an active member of the Irish music community. When he was on a trip to his father’s hometown of Buncrana, Co. Donegal, he was taught his first tune on fiddle by the legendary teacher Dinny McLaughlin, Whelan’s jig. He was told that he should go home and practice, and if he hadn’t learned the tune properly by the next time he was in Buncrana, Dinny would strangle him! He has been practicing ever since.
When he was 17, he learned guitar from local musician John Brennan, in the unusual tuning DADEAE, before later switching to Drop D. His interest in guitar grew, and after completing high school, he enrolled in the BA in Irish Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.
Now a graduate, he plays with the band Goitse, and teaches guitar privately and through the university.
TADHG Ó MEACHAIR
A graduate of the BA in Irish Music and Dance at the Academy, Tadhg has established himself as a force in the world of traditional Irish music. A recent All-Ireland piano title win is among the various awards for piano, piano accordion and accompaniment that have cemented this fact across the traditional music community. As well as extensive tours of the US and Europe with Goitse, he has performed on a variety of stages around the world to huge crowds and esteemed audiences; from Ireland’s National Concert Hall to Music Crossroads in Zambia and from the infamous Festival Interceltique de Lorient to a garden party hosted by Uachtarán an hÉireann, the President of Ireland.
Tadhg has not only made a name for himself in terms of his performing career. In recent years, he has recorded on many albums and worked with singers and musicians alike, including collaborations with legendary singers Aoife Clancy and Seán Ó Sé. He was also chosen by none other than Dónal Lunny to be the pianist in his ‘Lorg Lunny’ project which was recorded for an eight-episode TV series and culminated in the formation of the band Ciorras.
Tadhg has also taught extensively at festivals across Europe and teaches a variety of classes from piano and piano accordion, to accompaniment classes for a range of accompaniment instruments. Having grown up in an Irish-speaking home, and having studied the Irish language to University level, he has even been known to teach a few Irish or ‘Gaelic’ classes.
Young composers in Irish traditional music are the topic of Tadhg’s current research. His study will examine the phenomenon of the young composer; exploring what motivates them to compose, how they go about composing, and how their work is responded to within the tradition. The changing role of the composer figure in the context of Irish traditional music will be explored as will the structure and makeup of the music being composed.
Originally from Waterford City, Alan Colfer is a graduate of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, where he now works as principal guitar tutor. He has played extensively throughout Ireland and Europe, and his repertoire draws influence from music the world over.