Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny has a great track record in bringing leading world music acts to Donegal, often as part of the annual Earagail Arts Festival. It has ranged from Chouk Bwa Libète from Haiti, Boubacar Traore from Africa and Le Trio Joubran from Palestine, to the finest English and Scottish folk music from the Unthanks, Lau and Waterson Carthy. There is a brilliant world music programme at the RCC again as part of this year’s festival. It kicks off with the festival’s opening concert on Wednesday July 5th featuring the first ever Irish concert by Danish folk sensations Dreamers’ Circus. Other world music highlights at the RCC are Iranian trio Constantinople and Senegalese kora player Ablaya Cissoko on Saturday 15th and South African guitar genius Derek Gripper at lunchtime on Sunday 16th. Tickets for all RCC and Earagail Arts Festival events can be booked at An Grianán Theatre on 0035374912077 or online at www.eaf.ie
Dreamers’ Circus is an outrageously talented Danish folk trio featuring Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen on violin, Ale Carr on cittern and Nikolaj Busk on piano and accordion. They formed in 2009 as a result of a chance meeting at a folk festival in Copenhagen that turned into a music session. Their first performance was during a concert with the Copenhagen Philharmonic, where the trio performed a folk music version of Mozart’s 5th violin concerto in A-major. They released an EP with five tracks produced by the Väsen guitarist Roger Tallroth, in 2010. In 2011, they were invited to play a series of seven concerts with Copenhagen Philharmonic titled ’60 Minutes of Dreams’, the first ever Danish folk band to play with a symphony orchestra. They released their first full album ‘A Little Symphony’, which received Album of the Year at the Danish Music Awards Folk in 2013. In October the same year they were invited to perform at the Sydney Opera House by the Danish Crown Prince Couple where Rune was awarded their prestigious ‘Rising Star Award’. In 2015 the band released their second album ‘Second Movement’, which again won Album of the Year at the Danish Music Awards Folk 2015, and Ale Carr was also awarded Composer of the Year for his compositions on this recording. The band is renowned for the brilliance of their live performances and they have played to ecstatic crowds at many of Europe’s main folk festivals including Tonder, Roskilde and Celtic Connections. The opening concert of the 29th Earagail Arts Festival with Dreamers’ Circus at the RCC on Wednesday July 5th promises to get the festival off to a great start.
Africa and The Middle East
There are two standout world music concerts as part of the 3rd annual Donegal International Folk & Roots Weekend that runs from July 12th to 16th. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko – one of the most authentically inspiring global collaborations, where Persia and West Africa intersect – will be performing on Saturday 15th. An unprecedented poetic encounter between strings and voices, between the epic sounds of the Mandingo Kingdom and the music of the Persian courts. South African guitar virtuoso Derek Gripper performs 21-string kora compositions from Mali on a six-string classical guitar on Sunday 16th at 1pm. A masterclass in the sonic possibilities of the guitar, Derek Gripper performs a feat which the legendary John Williams said was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it”. An engagingly honest and fresh interpretation of music that perfectly balances tradition with real innovation. The festival is blessed with a number of other great world music acts, most notably leading Afrobeat musician Femi Kuti who plays McGrorys Culdaff on Sunday July 9th. The eldest son of the legendary Fela Kuti, Femi spent years playing in his father’s band before eventually rising to superstardom following his father’s death in the late ’90s.