CD Reviews: Armagh Pipers Club

CD Reviews: Armagh Pipers Club

40th Anniversary AlbumWKPFCD002 The Armagh Pipers Club, founded in 1966, is one of the great modern institutions of the Irish traditional music world. They have managed to maintain an open mind to otherwise politicised ideas of tradition, exposing...

40th Anniversary Album
WKPFCD002
 
The Armagh Pipers Club, founded in 1966, is one of the great modern institutions of the Irish traditional music world.  They have managed to maintain an open mind to otherwise politicised ideas of tradition, exposing generations of young musicians in and around Armagh to the best of traditional music from Ulster, Ireland and elsewhere. By doing so they have fostered and encouraged creativity and innovation from a real, rooted sense of tradition.

CDs produced by schools of music always have a Janus aspect; they have to reflect a community of sound at nearly every level while attempting to produce an appropriately aesthetic object. Recordings that lean towards the former perhaps should not receive too much critical attention in columns such as these, but this recording doesn’t and should. Certainly this double CD has a fair share of young musicians who are ‘work in progress’ and would not yet be publishable elsewhere, although this doesn’t make the efforts of the young artists any less admirable or endearing.  However, there are some real nuggets here and appropriately the piping stands out, in particular Jarlath Henderson’s flamboyant opening piece and the relaxed professional solo of Cillian Vallely.  Other outstanding tracks come from Niall Vallely, Martin and Paul Meehan and a typically idiosyncratic contribution from Brian Finnegan.

This is a document that gives a snapshot of the community of sound around the Armagh Pipers club and is a testament to its success and impact. You get everything from the heart of the club, Brian and Eithne Vallely, to numerous young ensembles and individuals, to the internationally renowned professional musicians who have been spawned by the club, only some of whom are mentioned above. As such it is a mixed bag and no-one will enjoy all on the two CDs, apart from the spirit that inspires every bit of it.

Published on 1 September 2008

Niall Keegan is a traditional flute player and Associate Director at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.

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