Barra Ó Séaghdha

Barra Ó Séaghdha is a writer on cultural politics, literature and music.

Look Forensically into My Mind
The frustrations of a creative spirit locked into a deteriorating body are made vivid in a new film on the musician Tony MacMahon, writes Barra Ó Séaghdha.
The Challenge to the Gaeltacht Remains
‘Aisling?’, a new show of music, song, dance and literature directed by Darach Mac Con Iomaire and commissioned by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, was presented as a central part of ‘Bliain na Gaeilge’ – a year-long celebration of the Irish language. Barra Ó Séaghdha reviews its Dublin premiere.
A Century of Irish Classics?
On 7–25 September, the National Concert Hall hosted 'Composing the Island', a major series of concerts spanning one hundred years of Irish classical music. Featuring over 80 composers, 27 concerts, and almost 200 works, Barra Ó Séaghdha explores its achievements as well as the musical questions it raises.
Commemorating 1916 By Not Thinking About It
As part of Ireland's 1916 commemorative programme, the National Concert Hall hosted a series of seven major concerts 'inspired by the 1916 Proclamation'. But, writes Barra Ó Séaghdha, did the series meaningfully engage with this history, or were they 'arranged with a view to demonstrating our harmlessness to an imaginary outsider'?
This is How we Fly express a free-spirited philosophy for group playing in traditional Irish music, while staying within the lines of that tradition.
Empty Space
Commissioned to compose a work in response to 9/11, John Adams confronted the question: can modern classical music still be the transcendental force we need it to be?
DEAF: Soap & Skin (Anja Plaschg)/Chip Shop Music/Paddy Glackin, Emer Mayock & Donal Siggins
Soap & Skin (Anja Plaschg), Button Factory, Dublin, 22 October 2009; Chip Shop Music, Ireland Institute, Dublin, 23 October 2009; Pastures New: Paddy Glackin, Emer Mayock and Donal Siggins, Kevin Barry Room, National Concert Hall, Dublin, 29 October
Kathleen Loughnane
The Harpers Connellan: Irish Music of the late 17th century
Oddbox: Cyclone of Discord
In works by Leitch Ritchie and John Beverley Nichols, Barra Ó Séaghdha discovers why Indian music is not serious art – while China and Scotland have problems too.
Oddbox: Voodoo, Sir Richard?
Barra Ó Séaghdha finds a disapproving account of paganism and the occult
Classic Protest Songs
Various, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (SFW40197)
Sounds Left Behind
Barra Ó Séaghdha asks where the British free jazz movement fits within definitions of jazz
Odd Box: Some Undignified Use
The opinions of Edward Martyn, founder of the Palestrina Choir
The first in a series of curious anecdotes from musical history.
Concert Review: RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet – Works Commissioned for Seamus Heaney's 70 Birthday
RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet / Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin / 3 April 2009
'Write Whatever You Want'
A period of freedom – and tension – in Chicago jazz through the playing of Anthony Braxton and the AACM
Elaine Clark (violin), Martin Johnson (cello), David James (cello), Madeleine Staunton (flute), Paul Roe (clarinet), Roberto Oliveira (percussion), Tine Verbeke (soprano), Jane O’Leary (piano) / Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin / 15 February 2009
Live Reviews: Crash Ensemble: Free State III / World View UK
Crash Ensemble, Darragh Morgan (violin), Alan Pierson (conductor), O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin 27–28 November 2008
Live Review: At First Light
The Cherry Tree, Dublin, 14 November 2008
Andrzej Bauer (cello), Roger Doyle (keyboard), Keith O’Brien (guitar, laptop), Brian Ó hUiginn (uilleann pipes) Liberty Hall, Dublin19 September 2008This year’s burst of concerts from Music 21 was as diverse as ever, taking in the quite...
Live Reviews: The Frost is All Over
Tony MacMahon (accordion); David Power (uilleann pipes, whistle, fiddle, vocals); Dermot Bolger (poetry); Directed by John Comiskey; Produced by David Teevan/Ten42 Productions / Tradition:DL Festival, Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, 2 August 2008.
Living Up to the Song
Barra Ó Séaghdha reviews Faking it, which explores the divide between artist and performance.
Francesco Turrisi (piano), Gabrielle Mirabassi (clarinet), Roman Bunka (oud), Ronan Guilfoyle (bass), Bijan Chemirani (percussion)National Concert Hall, Dublin24 April 2008Two Italians, a German, an Irishman and a Franco-Iranian (or Irano-Frenchman)... Piano,...
Boris Baltschun, Erik Carlsson, Roy Carroll, Axel Dörner, Kai Fagaschinski, Martin Küchen, David Lacey, Jason Lescalleet, Quiet Club (Danny McCarthy & Mick O’Shea), Fred Van Hove, Paul VogelThe Unitarian & Peppercanister Churches, Dublin28–30 March 2008 Most concert-goers will have noticed that what had seemed a very enjoyable experience at the time can sometimes leave almost no trace in the memory. It can be disconcerting, as you stand at the bus stop, to realise that your thoughts have completely wandered from the two-hour musical event you left thirty minutes ago. A few days after this year’s i-and-e festival, I found myself wondering if, instead of going directly to my notes, I should not ask myself what had really lingered in the...
Bewley’s Café Theatre, Dublin 211 March 2008The immediate impression as you entered Bewley’s Theatre for singer Seán Ó hÉanaigh’s performance was one of relaxed conviviality. People at different tables visited...
St Audoen’s Church, Dublin13 February 2008In theory, but only in some theory, music is to be treated as a thing in itself, and the nature of the location, of the audience and of the musicians as people are incidental. If so, the Improvised Music Company...
Olympia Theatre, Dublin27 January 2008The last concert of this year’s Temple Bar Trad was promoted from the usual smaller venues to the Olympia Theatre, thanks to the sponsors and to the fact that the occasion was being televised for TG4. The promotion...
Live Reviews: Life After Feldman
Printing House, Trinity College, Dublin 15-16 December 2007
Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin / National Gallery, Dublin2 December 2007Sunday the 2nd of December almost accidentally became a feast-day for devotees of the string quartet. At twelve noon, the ConTempo String Quartet, Galway’s ensemble-in-residence, played...
CD Reviews: Lorcán Mac Mathúna
Rógaire DubhIn the short time that I have had Lorcán Mac Mathúna’s CD in my possession, my feelings towards it have already gone through a number of phases. As they may shift again, what follows may be more an update on a process...