GUIDING BELLS: Mel Mercier, Irish Gamelan Orchestra and Special Guests

GUIDING BELLS: Mel Mercier, Irish Gamelan Orchestra and Special Guests

Friday, 6 October 2023, 8.00pm

Performing their unique repertoire of new music and dance, including arrangements of songs by Schubert and Purcell, Mel and the IGO are joined by Iarla Ó Lionáird, Colin Dunne, Kate Ellis, Tara Breen, West Cork Ukulele Orchestra, Nick Roth, Kathleen Turner, Claire Egan, Óscar Mascareñas and many more.

Presented in association with Cork City Council / UCC Quercus Talented Students’ Programme / FUAIM Music at UCC / University College Cork / Sounds From a Safe Harbour. Produced by Once Off Productions.

Cork has been Mel Mercier’s musical and spiritual home ever since he moved to the City from Dublin in the 1980s to study music as a bodhrán and bones player at University College Cork. When his teacher, mentor and colleague Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin was appointed as Professor and Chair of Music at University of Limerick in 1994, Mel took up leadership of Irish traditional music studies at UCC, a role that Mícheál himself inherited from Seán Ó Riada. In 1995, Mel brought the first set of Javanese gamelan instruments to UCC and Ireland, and in the following two decades he introduced a world of music – from Ireland and India to West Africa and Indonesia – to hundreds of UCC music students, and to the University and wider communities.

In 2022, after thirty years of artistic and educational leadership at University College Cork and the University of Limerick, where he succeeded Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin as Professor and Chair of Performing Arts, Mel made the decision to leave academia to pursue his artistic ambitions as a fulltime composer and performer. In GUIDING BELLS, a celebration of his contribution to music and education, Mel and the IGO are joined by singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, dancer Colin Dunne, cellist Kate Ellis, fiddle player Tara Breen, West Cork Ukulele Orchestra, saxophonist Nick Roth, soprano Claire Egan, singers Kathleen Turner and Óscar Mascareñas, and a host of University College Cork music graduates.

Directed by Mel and assistant musical directors Kelly Boyle and Kevin McNally, the 14-member Irish Gamelan Orchestra (IGO) is committed to collaborating with professional Irish and international artists to create and perform an original, cross-cultural and cross-arts repertoire. Formed at University College Cork in 2013 (originally as Cork Gamelan Ensemble), the IGO has collaborated with artists including Fiona Shaw, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Joseph O’Connor, Martin Hayes, Colin Dunne, Nick Roth, Kate Ellis, Duke Special and Julie Feeney in performances throughout Ireland, the UK and Java. The IGO released its debut CD The Three Forges on Diatribe Records in 2015.

In GUIDING BELLS the IGO will perform on the gamelan Nyai Sekar Madu Sari (Venerable Flower of Honey Essence), the first Irish gamelan, which was made in 1994/95 for University College Cork by one of Indonesia’s leading gongsmiths, Pak Tentrem Sarwanto, at his forge in Surakarta, Central Java.

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Published by The Journal of Music on 23 August 2023

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