Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dawn Upshaw and the Crash Ensemble

It's hard to keep up with my busy life. I've been in catch-up mode since we got back from Kerry. This weekend just flew - we were working on Saturday morning, and then we went into town on Sunday for a quick errand, and I did a bit of painting, and then the weekend was gone - in a flash - disappeared.

So, bear with me while I tell you about events in my life that happened weeks ago. OK. This one isn't that bad - it was the weekend before last, on the Saturday evening, a dirty dark wet night. We drove into Kilmainham for a concert by Dawn Upshaw and the Crash Ensemble.

The great hall is not the best in terms of acoustics - I found that, when she was belting out the high notes, Dawn Upshaw's voice bounced between the walls, with a strange echo effect. But that aside, it was a lovely evening. We got good seats - not too close, with plenty of leg room for Brendan. Upshaw sang some Osvaldo Golijov songs first, and was followed by Iarla O'Lionaird, a sean-nos singer, who performed Gra agus Bas, a Donnacha Dennehy piece. After the interval, the string section treated us to John Zorn's Paran, a piece that will remind you of Fiddler on the Roof. And then, the beautiful That the Night Come, a piece composed by Donnacha Dennehy, based on some of Yeats poems.

I'm a fan of Golijov, so of course I'm going to say that it was good.

While I found Gra Agus Bas (Love and Death) discordant (I think there were too many instruments competing for my attention), Iarla O'Lionaird's voice was beautiful and carried the piece through.

Paran was really enjoyable - based on Jewish tunes with a modern twist - the double-bass and the cello were absolutely fabulous - foot-tapping stuff. I must find out who the cello player is - she was in one of the bands that played at one of the JK Ensemble sessions.

I don't know much about Yeats poetry. The only line I can quote is "Are changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born" (I think this line accompanied some Bord Failte advertising in the 80s), and I didn't even know what poem it comes from until I looked it up just now (Easter 1916). I really enjoyed the soft music and the beautiful words of That the Night Come. The overall effect was perfect. The piece was commissioned by Dawn Upshaw and this was its World Premiere. Looking forward to the CD.

If you want a more erudite review of the concert, you'll find one here.

And don't forget to check out the Crash Ensemble website's media page. One of my favourites is "Loops for Ancient-Giant-Nude-Hairy Warriors Racing Down the Slopes of Battle".

Anyway, I'm delighted that Dawn Upshaw was back in Ireland. I hope she enjoyed her musical collaboration with Donnacha Dennehy and the Crash Ensemble and that she'll be back again soon.

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