London Folk Magazine and News
Gig Review: ´Macalla 1916´ performed by the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland
Last Friday Cultas Culturian’s Folk Orchestra took to the stage in the Barbican Centre for their first concert outside of Ireland. Debuting ‘Macalla 1916’, Michael Rooney’s latest offering which was written and performed to commemorate the Easter Rising, the unusual orchestra drew a huge crowd, of Irish and other, to the impressive concert hall.
The folk orchestra, a rare beast in the musical world, consisted predominantly of strings, along with uilleann pipes, push button accordions, harps, and Irish flutes, which together made truly unique and truly Irish sound. Most of the performers, sticking to the traditional performance methods, played the entire piece without music, moving as they played the often fast paced jigs. This impressive scene added to the traditional sense of the piece.
Rooney is an incredibly well acclaimed composer, and from ‘Macalla 1916’ it’s easy to see why. The music was moving and fun by turn, the images that accompanied it interesting and in keeping with the particular movement, whilst the quotes and information read out gave even those completely unaware of the Easter Rising a true sense of Ireland leading up to 1916.
The music captured the sorrow of the period, the difficulties of division, as well as the surging of Irish pride and hope. Rooney’s music was truly moving and the terrifically played by everyone in the orchestra. In particular, the uilleann pipes lead several movements fantastically, playing incredibly fast at times, and creating an absorbing sound.
The orchestra’s first concert outside of Ireland was a clear success, and the mere fact that it was in the Barbican highlights how far the country has come in just the last hundred years. One important aspect highlighted is just how alive Irish folk music is. Based on last Fridays performance, it is not only surviving, but flourishing with impressive style.
‘Maccalla 1916’ will now be toured across Ireland, if you get the chance I couldn’t recommend seeing it more.
Written by Molly Lempriere