CASTLEBAR SHOW Patrick Dexter will play in the Linenhall Arts Centre on March 25. Pic Karen Cox
INTERNATIONALLY-RENOWNED Irish cellist Patrick Dexter became familiar to many during the long days of lockdown, when his hypnotic performances outside his rural Newport cottage captured the internet and raised our spirits. Now, he will perform his first ever solo show on Friday, March 25, in The Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar.
Patrick moved to Mayo with his wife and now one-year-old daughter after having spent much of youth in Dublin. The remoteness of their new home provided a backdrop of immense natural beauty and masses of inspiration for writing music.
When Covid-19 first hit and our worlds shrank, Patrick developed a habit of practising the cello outside, much to the delight of his dog Naoise. One day, he posted a video of himself online - and word soon spread. His performances started to get millions of views on TikTok and Twitter, and media requests came flooding in - alongside messages from people who had taken comfort in his rich, expansive playing, as well as the scenery, Noise’s cameos and Patrick’s cosy knitted cardigan.
“Irish people all around the world seem to love seeing the scenery and hearing nice music from the west of Ireland,” Patrick told The Mayo News last May. “From the tens of thousands of messages I’ve got, it seems that people get positive feelings from watching and listening to the videos, which is lovely to hear.”
His repertoire comprised virtuosic arrangements of classical, traditional Irish folk and contemporary pop, and his performances were broadcast on international news channels, including CNN, CBS, BBC and Sky News. He was even asked to do a TEDx talk on the healing power of music, and invited to the White House to play for Joe Biden last year on St Patrick’s Day.
Last month, on February 1, Patrick released “Brigid’ to mark St Brigid’s Day and the traditional festival of Imbolc. The track, which features acclaimed Westport harpist Laoise Kelly, is from his debut album, Solace’, which is due for release on April. Exploring themes of home, the natural world and the dichotomy of despair and joy found in both the landscape of the west of Ireland and the sonic depth of the cello, ‘Solace’ is a mixture of Patrick’s own compositions, as well as traditional Irish and Scottish music. It is available to pre-order on www.patrickdexter.com and to download from patrickdexter.band- camp.com. The musician announced the Linenhall performance on Twitter last Thursday, tweeting ‘Il be playing the music I shared throughout lockdown with an appearance from a very very special guest (my Dad)’. Patrick’s father, conductor and pianist John Dexter, was for many years organist and master of the choristers in St Patrick’s Cathedral. He was an organ scholar in Jesus College, Oxford, and at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, studying orchestral conducting with the late Norman Del Mar in the Royal College of Music. He is now conductor of the Goethe Choir, co- director of Dublin County Choir, organist in White church Church and a lecturer in harmony, counterpoint and conducting techniques in Trinity College Dublin.
The March 25 concert will be special in so many ways - Patrick’s first solo gig, his father’s presence, the intimate venue. If you’re not able to make it though, be sure to check out Patrick’s performances online - his recent performances of Ukranian folk song Nich Yaka Misyachna’ (‘The Night Is So Moonlit), by MykolaLysenko, and the Ukrainian chant ‘Shchedryk, by Mykola Leontovych, are especially moving.
For tickets to Patrick Dexter’s performance, contact the Linenhall Arts Centre on 094 902 3733 or visit www.thelinenhall.com. For more on Patrick, visit www.patrickdexter.com, see his videos on YouTube (Patrick Dexter Cello), and follow him on Twitter (@patrickdextervc), TikTok (patrickdextercello) and Spotify.