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Digging deep into Mayo’s traditional soundscape

Going Out

GIVING VOICE Emer Mayock (pictured) says the project has striven to ‘expose the musical voice of the county

County’s traditional music heritage preserved and celebrated in major project

The traditional music heritage of County Mayo has been at the centre of an exciting three-month artist residency at the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar this winter. Entitled ‘The Music of Mayo’ and led by traditional musician and composer Emer Mayock, the residency has delved into the traditional music in Mayo with a mind to preserving and celebrating it. Focusing in particular on the compositions of Mayo musicians and singers from the past to the present day, it also looks to the future by including the young musicians who will carry the county’s homegrown traditional sound into the future.
Now nearing an end, the residency will soon result in a unique digital resource of notated songs and tunes, a CD recording, and a concert featuring Mayo’s leading lights in traditional music at the end of the month at The Linenhall.
“The project strives to expose the musical voice of the county,” explains Mayock, “and to present traditional music repertoire from Mayo through interaction with musicians and singers from the Iorras and Achill Gaeltachts to the musicians of east, west and south Mayo.”
A respected multi-instrumentalist, Mayock plays the flute, whistle, fiddle and uilleann pipes. She has released two solo CDs to date, ‘Merry Bits of Timber’ and ‘Playground’, and she has performed nationally and internationally with acclaimed traditional musicians, including Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Sligo musician Peter Horan.
She has also collaborated with musicians outside the traditional field, including Breton flautist Jean-Michel Veillon, the National Chamber Choir, the Italian Baroque ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, and jazz musicians Francesco Turrisi and Nick Roth, as well as cellist Kate Ellis. Her exploration of the repertoire of the Goodman Manuscripts in collaboration with uilleann piper Mick O’Brien and fiddle player Aoife Ní Bhriain won a TG4 Gradam Ceoil award.
Supported by the Creative Ireland Programme, the residency has been unearthing and preserving elements of indigenous Mayo music. It has combined desk and field research, as well as music sharing, composing, recording and workshops with young musicians.
Mayock, who hails from Castlebar, has captured unique recordings featuring musicians of all ages from the county, and these will be available in CD and online digital formats to be shared with musicians, music teachers, students and traditional music enthusiasts. The Mayo music in the recordings can be traced back to the earliest music collected here in manuscript form in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, right up to the present day.
To mark the end of the residency and to celebrate the valuable archive of the compositions and repertoire of Mayo natives that it has created, a very special concert and CD launch will take place at The Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, on Wednesday, January 31.
The concert will feature performances from the musicians and singers who so generously contributed their knowledge, support and repertoire to the project, including  Gráinne Hambly (harp), Julie Langan (fiddle), Joe Byrne (flute), Tom Doherty (accordion) and Emer Mayock (flute), alongside guests and younger musicians.

For information on The Music of Mayo musical heritage residency or to book tickets to the concert (€10 each), call The Linenhall on 094 9023733 or visit www.thelinenhall.com. For more on the work of Emer Mayock, visit www.emermayock.com. For more on Creative Ireland, the Government’s five-year creativity initiative, visit www.creative.ireland.ie.

Digital Edition