TradFest Temple Bar
Across its history, TradFest Temple Bar has always prided itself on being a unique event – set apart from other festivals by its location, its place in the calendar, its atmosphere and the breadth of its programming. The latter is marked, not only by the huge number of internationally acclaimed artists who have performed since the launch, but also the series of projects and collaborations that have made debut at the festival or indeed have only been witnessed in Dublin during those special January nights.
Major commissions from artistic director Kieran Hanrahan have included Lorcan MacGhuna’s 1916 – Visionaries and Their Words, a multi-media show that explored the writings and ideals of the leaders of the Easter Rising. With new music drawn from their words, as well as existing songs in the tradition of their pens, the work interpreted the vision of these revolutionaries and the impact they made on Irish life that resonates to this day. Performed to mark the catenary of the uprising in 2016, the piece perfectly represented the festival’s aim to link music from down the ages with the modern day.
A similar approach could be found in Danú’s Tom Doorley collaboration with Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland on ‘Machnamh – Airs and Songs of Kilmainham’, inspired by to some of the seminal moments of the Gaol’s history and performed in the spectacular surroundings of the building itself – and the bringing together of Altan and Mary Chapin Carpenter to celebrate the music of Frankie Kennedy.
Elsewhere the festival’s desire to promote Trad Without Frontiers has been clear – through Othered Voices collection of rap and poetry, a gala benefit of travelling culture founding father Pecker Dunne and the teaming of Aoife Scott with interfaith and intercultural musical collective Radiant Arcadia. Always keen to spread its influence throughout the city, TradFest Temple Bar has partnered with venues such as The Ark, The IFI, Epic, Icon Factory and the Irish Family History Centre on concerts and events.
Away from these carefully thought and planned cultural meetings, however lies another side of the TradFest Temple Bar world. Alliances are formed at concerts, the famous intimate sessions, through chance encounters between some of the world’s finest musicians or simply inspired by the opportunity to perform something new in front of such a knowledgeable audience. T With The Maggies (featuring Moya Brennan, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill) first came together at the 2009 festival at the suggestion of their respective children, going on to perform at the Irish Global Economic summit that year. They were commissioned to record the folk song ‘Two Sisters’ by Sam Shepard for his play Ages of the Moon, which opened in New York and Dublin, starring actors Seán McGinley and festival patron Stephen Rea. Declan O’Rourke & Miles Duggan, We Banjo 3 & Chessboxer, Marc O’Reilly & The Hard Ground and Ailbhe Reddy, Ciara Sidine & Karrie have all forged creative relationships that have stretched far beyond the event. It’s what TradFest Temple Bar was made for.