12 October 2016
By Elaine Murphy
East Cork Early Music Festival 2016 will again bring the music of the Baroque Era to life in Cork City and County. An annual event since 2003, the four-day festival sees the world’s leading Baroque musicians performing in collaboration with Irish and Irish-based artists, offering everything from big orchestral and choral spectacle to intimate chamber recitals, family concerts, pop-up events, workshops and late-night festival clubs.
The Festival opens Thursday 8pm in the Curtis Auditorium, CIT Cork School of Music with a return visit from Ensemble Marsyas. Directed by Dublin-born bassoonist Peter Whelan, this acclaimed group will present a programme entitled “Virtuosic music for winds from the 18th century”. Those who saw “Marsyas” at ECEMF 2012 will confirm that this is a special band of musicians who display supreme virtuosity.
Friday 1.10pm the action moves to St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, where flautist Emma Zoe Elkinson will join Cork’s leading baroque specialists to perform music by J.S.Bach, his son CPE Bach and the unheralded Tommaso Giordani who was a prominent musical figure in late 18th-century Dublin. This event is free of charge and presented in collaboration with FUAIM at UCC concert series.
On Friday at 8pm, again in the Curtis Auditorium, Peter Whelan takes to the harpsichord to direct the Cork Baroque Orchestra with a dazzling programme of orchestral works and arias sung by Irish mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly. One of the rising stars of Irish singing, Rachel Kelly has performed recently in The Royal Opera House and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, where her performance was singled out by Opera Magazine for its “glowing warmth and rich sensuality”. Tonight she will sing arias by Handel and Jomelli.
On Saturday afternoon the festival moves to St. John the Baptist Church in Midleton, where the spotlight will focus on talented younger musicians from Cork City and County. The afternoon will begin at 1pm with a performance by the Cork based winners of the ECEMF 2015 chamber music prize, violinist Caitriona O’Mahony and harpsichordist Tomás Ó Drisceoil, who will be playing music by Biber, Leonarda and Schmelzer. This will be followed at 2.30pm by a showcase of talent by young students from the ETB Cork School of Music, featuring pieces by Handel, JS Bach and Telemann.
At 8pm in Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh the Giordani String Quartet (with cellist Sarah McMahon)will perform chamber music by the 18th-century Italian composer Tommaso Giordani who was the director of music in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre, and an important musical figure in 18th-century Dublin. Ireland’s only period instrument string quartet will perform two of his late-baroque quartets alongside Haydn’s first string quartet “The Hunt” and his later work “The Dream”. Cellists Aoife Nic Athlaoich and Sarah McMahon also perform charming cello duets by Giordani.
The final concert will take place in a new Festival venue, St. Multose Church in Kinsale. The acclaimed Irish ensemble Camerata Kilkenny will be joined by Uileann Piper David Power in a programme titled “The Piper and the Faerie Queen“. This programme is inspired by fantastical literary works from the 17th century alongside traditional Irish music with associated themes performed by the great Irish Uilleann piper David Power.
Full list of these and other events taking place can be found at eastcorkearlymusic.ie. Tickets to all concerts are available in advance from Pro Musica, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork, booking online through the festival website and at the door.