5 New Books on Music in Ireland

Declan Kiberd launching Helen Phelan’s new book, ‘Singing the Rite to Belong: Music, Ritual and the New Irish’

5 New Books on Music in Ireland

New work from authors Gerald Dawe, Susan O’Regan, John O'Keefe, Kerry Houston and Harry White, and Helen Phelan.

A number of books on Irish music have appeared in recent months, exploring the work of Van Morrison, Gerard Gillen, Seán and Peadar Ó Riada, and more. See details below. 

In Another World: Van Morrison & Belfast – Gerald Dawe
In Another World, by poet Gerald Dawe, views Belfast in the 1950s and 60s through the lens of Van Morrison’s music, exploring the influence of the city itself on his lyrics, from Astral Weeks in 1968 to Lit Up Inside: Selected Lyrics from 2014. Gerald Dawe is a retired Professor of English and Fellow of Trinity College. His most recent work includes Mickey Finn’s Air (2014) and Of War and War’s Alarms: Reflections on Modern Irish Writing (2015).

In Another World is published by Merrion Press. https://goo.gl/aZwFXr

Music and Society in Cork, 1700–1900 – Susan O’Regan
Musicologist and CIT Cork School of Music lecturer Susan O’Regan examines public musical life in Cork during a time of rapid economic growth in the 18th and 19th centuries. The book explores the many facets of musical life in the city at that time from Italian opera to the Irish harp to music education and the rise of local press coverage.

Music and Society in Cork, 1700–1900 is published by Cork University Press. https://goo.gl/rcwxsa

The Masses of Seán and Peadar Ó Riada: Explorations in Vernacular Chant – John O’Keefe
John O’Keefe, director of sacred music at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, has written a study on composer Seán Ó Riada’s mass, Ceol an Aifrinn. Including scores and recordings, the book looks at the idea of ‘vernacular chant’ – liturgical music emerging from traditional song – in the work, as well as some later works, and one by Ó Riada’s son Peadar.

The Masses of Seán and Peadar Ó Riada is published by Cork University Press. https://goo.gl/e7kKqr

A Musical Offering: Essays in Honour of Gerard Gillen – ed. by Kerry Houston and Harry White
Edited by Kerry Houston (DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and Director of the Research Foundation for Music in Ireland) and Harry White (Professor of Historical Musicology and Chair of Music at UCD), this is a collection of seventeen specially commissioned essays written by friends, colleagues or former students of Professor Gerard Gillen. Gillen is best known as Professor Emeritus in Music at NUI Maynooth, as well as a prominent organist, and the subjects covered reflect his range of interests.

A Musical Offering: Essay in Honour of Gerard Gillen is available from Four Courts Press. https://goo.gl/NDoMsp

Singing the Rite to Belong: Ritual, Music and the New Irish – Helen Phelan 
In Singing the Rite to Belong, Helen Phelan examines how singing can ‘foster experiences of belonging through ritual performance’, placing community, civic and religious rituals in context in modern Ireland. Based on more than two decades of research, it is set against the backdrop of ‘the new Ireland’ of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Charting Ireland’s growing multiculturalism, changing patterns of migration, the diminished influence of Catholicism, and synergies between indigenous and global forms of cultural expression, it explores rights and rites of belonging in contemporary Ireland. Helen Phelan is Professor of Arts Practice at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, and is an Irish Research Council recipient for her work on singing and social integration.

Singing the Rite to Belong: Ritual, Music and the New Irish is published by Oxford University Press: https://goo.gl/VPw3Cn.

Listen to a feature on the book on BBC Radio 3 here.

Finally, Desi Wilkinson will also have two launch events for his book Call to the Dance (originally published in 2016) on the revival of traditional music performance and circle dancing in Brittany. The events will take place in Dublin on 7 December at Na Piobairí Uilleann (7pm), and the following day at Belfast’s An Droichead Cultural Centre (8pm). 

Read our recent book reviews: Aileen Dillane on A Short History of Irish Traditional Music and John McLachlan on Music After the Fall – Modern Composition and Culture Since 1989.

Published on 27 November 2017

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