Anne Sofie von Otter, Brooklyn Rider, Tara Erraught, and Martin Hayes and the Common Ground Ensemble on Kilkenny Arts Festival Line-up

Art-pop group Bas Jan perform on 13 August.

Anne Sofie von Otter, Brooklyn Rider, Tara Erraught, and Martin Hayes and the Common Ground Ensemble on Kilkenny Arts Festival Line-up

49th festival will present over 100 performances from 4 to 14 August.

Kilkenny Arts Festival has launched its programme for this year’s event which includes a range of music, opera, theatre, dance and literary events taking place from 4 to 14 August in venues across Kilkenny. This year is the festival’s 49th edition and the first full programme since 2019. 

The music offering includes concerts by Anne Sofie von Otter and Brooklyn Rider, Tara Erraught and the Irish Baroque Orchestra, new music by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Linda Buckley and Deirdre Gribbin, Handel’s Semele operaa virtual opera by Finola Merivale, a concert series co-curated by Martin Hayes, and performances by Crash Ensemble, Maya Youssef and Clang Syne.

On 11 and 12 August, festival poet-in-residence Theo Dorgan and composer and musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire present Ériu and Amergín, a new bilingual work that tells the story of how poetry began in Ireland. The work is a new commission by Kilkenny Arts Festival and explores the mythical encounter between Amergín Glúingel, a bard who took part in the Milesian conquest of Ireland, and Ériu, a Tuatha Dé Danann princess. The performance will see Dorgan’s words spoken by actors Aaron Monaghan and Bríd Ní Neachtain against the backdrop of an original score by Mac Con Iomaire, performed live by the composer himself and a six-piece ensemble including Catherine Fitzgerald (piano/keys), Alannah Thornborough (harp), Lorcan Byrne (drums), Ian Doyle (guitar), Colm Quearney (guitar/bouzouki) and Fionn Ó hAlmhain (uilleann pipes). 

The Stones of Life is a new song cycle by composer Deirdre Gribbin that will be performed by mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty and the Irish Chamber Orchestra on 6 August at St Canice’s Theatre. The song cycle was inspired by the work of Gribbin’s son Ethan Stein – a young poet with Down Syndrome who has written about the standing stones of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. The concert will also feature a performance of Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in C minor.  

On 8 August, actor Stephen Rea will present Saíocht, a celebration of Irish poetry and traditional music including piper Louise Mulcahy, harper Michelle Mulcahy, cellist Neil Martin and poets Emily Cullen and Gabriel Rosenstock. Works by Kilkenny poets Emily Murtagh and Robert McLoughlin will also be performed. 

Throughout the festival, there will be a series of concerts co-curated by Martin Hayes, the Marble City Sessions. This will see performances by Ye Vagabonds (7 August), Syrian musician Maya Youssef (8 August), and Cormac McCarthy, Nell Ní Chróinín, Aoife Ní Bhriain and Kate Ellis performing music composed and arranged by McCarthy including Macalla an Amhráin (‘echo of song’) – a long-form sean-nós piece (9 August). Hayes will also perform as part of the Marble City Sessions with his group the Common Ground Ensemble (13 August).

The Carducci String Quartet will perform Shostakovich’s String Quartet cycle over six days, from 6 to 11 August in St John’s Priory; Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Irish Chamber Orchestra will present the Róisín ReImagined project, with new arrangements of sean-nós songs, on 10 August; renowned mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter will perform with string quartet Brooklyn Rider on 12 August; and harpsichordist and organist Malcolm Proud will play Bach’s The Well-tempered Clavier, Book I over two concerts on 12 and 13 August.  

Virtual opera and Handel’s ‘Semele’
Irish National Opera present their virtual opera Out of the Ordinary from 9 to 14 August. The production was created through a series of workshops with communities across the country and will be presented to audiences through virtual reality technology. The work was composed by Finola Merivale, directed by Jo Mangan, and features soprano Daire Halpin and mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O’Connell with a text by Jody O’Neill. 

Kilkenny Arts Festival and Opera Collective Ireland will present Handel’s Semele – a tale of adultery and revenge, featuring both tragedy and comedy – on 4, 5 and 7 August. The baroque ensemble Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin will perform the music alongside the choral group Sestina. Also featured in the opera programme is a performance by the Irish Baroque Orchestra and soprano Tara Erraught of orchestral music, songs and arias associated with the legendary Italian castrato singer Giusto Tenducci (7 August); and a concert with soprano Ailish Tynan and the Irish Chamber Orchestra with conductor Stephen Barlow for a performance of classics by Puccini, Verdi, Mozart, Handel and Lehár (11 August).  

On 14 August, the festival will present an evening of music by Linda Buckley, including the world premiere of Undersong, a co-commission from Crash Ensemble and Kilkenny Arts Festival. Fiona Kelleher, Liam Byrne and Crash Ensemble will also perform on the night. On 11 August, singer-songwriter Sean O’Hagan performs with Eileen Gogan, and art-pop ensemble from London, Bas Jan, perform on 13 August.  

There will also be concerts with Maija Sofia (11 August), Bell X1 and Dowry Strings (11 August), Myles O’Reilly (7 August), Toucan (12 August), Laoise O’Brien (10 August), Clang Syne (5 August), Chamber Choir Ireland (11 August), violinist Johnny Gandelsman (10 August), English musician and actor Keeley Forsyth (10 August); American singer-songwriter Howe Gelb (12 August); and a series of free Secret Garden concerts throughout the festival.  

Commenting on this year’s event, Festival Director Olga Barry said: 

It’s a real thrill to announce a full programme of events for the 49th Edition of Kilkenny Arts Festival. We’re very excited to welcome back full audiences to experience all these things we love about Kilkenny in August and looking forward to that special Marble City magic! 

For more information and tickets, visit

Published on 29 June 2022

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