Riverdance, Traditional Music, the Irish Songbook and Martin Hayes to Feature in Irish Government's Expo 2020 in Dubai

The Ireland Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai

Riverdance, Traditional Music, the Irish Songbook and Martin Hayes to Feature in Irish Government's Expo 2020 in Dubai

Music programme over six programmes in the United Arab Emirates will feature a rotating group of traditional musicians, a month of Riverdance shows, an Expo World Choir led by David Brophy, and an album release on St Patrick's Day.

The Irish government has announced a major music programme as part of Expo 2020 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Expo 2020 is a huge world exhibition with 192 participating countries. It was meant to take place last year but was pushed forward to 2021 because of the pandemic (it has kept 2020 in the title). Taking place over six months from 1 October to 31 March, the event is regarded as a significant post-pandemic opportunity for Ireland to advance its economic interests in tourism, trade and enterprise.

‘We are bringing a whole-of-Government approach to Expo 2020 in Dubai,’ said Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in a statement.

My Department is working with partners across Government, State Agencies, business, arts and culture, academia and the creative industries to ensure a high-impact Irish presence in Dubai. Expo will provide a platform in raising awareness of Ireland as a place to live, study and work, and a destination to visit as well as highlighting a great country in which, and with which, to do business.

The music programme includes:

– Daily traditional Irish music and song on stage in the Courtyard area of the Ireland Pavilion, a large exhibition, viewing and meeting space designed by architect Ciarán O’Connor. The group of musicians, titled The Expo Players, will rotate monthly. For the first month, the artists will include Moxie members Ted Kelly (tenor banjo, electric tenor guitar), Jos Kelly (button accordion, keyboard), Julia Spanu (vocals – Irish, English, Arabic, French), Darren Roche (button accordion, bodhrán), Josh Sampson (drums, percussion), and Richard Delahunty (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, tenor banjo) plus Nicolle Figueroa (bodhrán, vocals), Cliona Halley (concertina), Joanne Quirke (flute), and Rebecca McCarthy Kent (fiddle, piano), a former winner of the Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal.

– A project called The Irish Songbook, curated by Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press, and Gary Sheehan of the National Concert Hall, that contains eight songs from the 1800s to the mid-20th century including Thomas Moore’s ‘The Minstrel Boy’ and Patrick Kavanagh’s ‘Raglan Road’; 32 songs from the mid-twentieth century onwards, with works by Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Bob Geldof, Enya, U2, The Corrs and Hozier; and 16 songs from the broad Irish diaspora, including The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’, Nirvana’s ’Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’. The Expo Players will perform a selection of the songs over the course of the six months and an album of their interpretations titled The Irish Songbook Reimagined will be released on St Patrick’s Day 2022.

– A performance by Martin Hayes on St Patrick’s Day 2022 at the Expo. The fiddle-player will lead a specially created concert with a new ensemble inspired by Paul Simon’s Graceland and Miles Davis’ electric bands. Hayes and guests will perform traditional music and songs from the Irish Songbook project.

– A special version of the Riverdance show featuring artists from the Middle East that will be performed  from 3 to 27 November in the Jubilee Park venue. There will also be 52 masterclasses and pop-up musical and dance performances. Riverdance composer Bill Whelan will also host a masterclass at the Ireland Pavilion in November.

– A project called Expo World Choir led by conductor David Brophy that will invite Expo hosts, staff and guests of the participating countries to take part in a choir and musical ensemble. The group will perform the Irish Songbook at Christmas. The song list will range from Brendan Graham’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ to U2’s ‘One’, as well as Christmas songs. The choir will be selected and coached online by David Brophy in the weeks preceding the event.

– A screening of Song of Granite (2017) the film about sean-nós singer Joe Heaney, and other films such as Wolfwalkers, Brooklyn and Michael Collins, in the Irish Pavilion and other venues at the Expo.

The Irish music programme,which has been developed in partnership with the National Concert Hall, is key to Ireland’s presence over six months. It will sit next to trade events organised by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, the Design and Craft Council of Ireland, and the Department of Further and Higher Education.

For the full programme, see below. For more, visit https://ireland.ie/expo/

Published on 5 October 2021

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