• Culture

Ardee Baroque Festival – Meet the Performers

Some of the performers slated to take part in the 2017 edition of the Ardee Baroque Festival.
This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie
Today’s the day! Tonight marks the return of the ever popular Ardee Baroque Festival to the town, for it’s 14th annual outing. With a varied programme of events, the festival brings a touch of culture and history to Ardee’s musical offering for one weekend only. Here we invite you in to get to know the artists and performers who will be entertaining patrons over the next three days.
Lit Lab – Friday, 7.30pm, Hatch’s Castle

Lit Lab is a group of published and prize-winning writers from Meath and Cavan whose focus is writing poetry and prose. Following the popularity of their readings of poems inspired by the 1916 Anglo Celt last year, the group returns to Hatch’s Castle for a collection of readings from their latest anthology, “Frank Miller stole my girl”.

The LitLab began in 2006 when Meath and Cavan County Councils announced plans to mentor new and emerging writers in the two counties. Initial workshops were held in Kells Library under the guidance of Armagh author John McAllister.


The first public reading was held in Virginia, Co Cavan in May 2007 and since then the group membership has changed with over forty writers passing through its doors. There are currently eight members, including Michael Farry from Trim, in the group which meets fortnightly in Bailieborough Library.

This is the second successive year on the Ardee Baroque Festival bill.

Music Generation Louth’s Junior Orchestra – Saturday, 12.30pm, St Marys Abbey

Music Generation Louth‘s impressive youth chamber groups and Junior String Orchestra will perform a family-friendly selection of baroque favourites including Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and music from the Royal Fireworks by Handel on Saturday afternoon.

The groups rehearse weekly under the direction of local musician Jayne Graham and this show is well worth coming along for a listen to some of Louth’s emerging musical talent.

Music Generation Louth is a music education service that provides a range of opportunities throughout the county for children and young people to learn music. It is part of Music Generation – Ireland’s National Music Education Programme, initiated by Music Network, co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and Local Music Education Partnerships.

Mairead Hickey – Saturday, 4pm, Hatch’s Castle

For what is sure to be one of the highlights of the festival, Irish violinist Mairéad Hickey returns home from Germany for this one-off concert in Hatch’s Castle intimate drawing room. Mairéad is much in demand for the beauty, quality and sensitivity of her playing. For this hour-long concert, she will perform a programme of baroque pieces for solo violin.

Just 21 years old, Mairéad has won several international violin competitions including the Jeunesses Musicales International Violin Competition in Romania in 2012 and the Antonio Salieri Prize primo premio assoluto in Italy in 2010.

Mairéad Hickey will perform in the Drawing Room at Hatch’s Castel on Saturday. Photo: Rob Lamb


She was named Irish National Concert Hall Young Musician of the Year 2010-12. In 2013, she was placed first in the Electric Ireland Feis Ceoil Terry O’Connor Trophy, Dublin and performed in the Feis Ceoil Gala Concert in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. She was awarded the Father Frank Maher Bursary in 2013.

Having already performed in countries all over the world, the Cork-born violinist’s recent Irish performances include shows for the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, the OECD as well as other Irish and foreign ministers.

Mairéad is also an active chamber musician. As leader of the Cairde Quartet, she has performed in Ireland, France, Italy and the UK and has participated twice in the West Cork International Chamber Music Festival.

Irish Baroque Orchestra feat Sinead Campbell Wallace – Saturday, 7.30pm, St Marys Abbey

As ever the Irish Baroque Orchestra headline the Ardee Baroque Festival on Saturday evening, this time with special guest Sinead Campbell Wallace. Under the direction of violinist, Claire Duff, this headline concert will feature well-known arias from Handel’s Messiah as well as popular operatic arias including the beautiful ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’. The programme also includes Corelli’s celebrated Christmas Concerto.

Driven by the belief that the best things in life stand the test of time, the orchestra allows Irish audiences to experience the beauty of baroque music as it was intended to be heard. Under the inspirational artistic direction of Monica Huggett, each member of the orchestra continuously seeks to explore the playing techniques and performance styles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and performs only on baroque instruments or modern replicas.

Its exceptional musicians perform regularly throughout Ireland and abroad, and continue to receive widespread critical acclaim. The orchestra has its own collection of period instruments, purchased some years back with the assistance of an Arts Council capital grant and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Sunday’s lead violinist Claire Duff is in constant demand throughout Europe. Claire has played as leader with Florilegium, I Fagiolini, English Touring Opera and The Kings Consort, and has regularly performed with The English Concert, Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and English Baroque Soloists.

Sinead Campbell Wallace joins the IBO for this year’s Ardee Baroque Festival show. She is a graduate of the DIT conservatory of Music and Drama, the National Opera Studio and the Britten-Pears young artist programme.

Following a successful career as an acclaimed light-lyric soprano, Sinead has recently made the exciting transition into fuller dramatic repertoire. Sinead was a finalist in the RTE Millennium Singer of the Future competition at the National Concert Hall, Dublin and in the same year was awarded the French song Prize at the UK National Mozart Competition.

A seasoned recitalist, Sinéad has sung at many venues in Ireland and the UK, including the Wigmore Hall, London, the Killaloe Music Festival, Wexford Festival, Bank of Ireland Arts Centre lunchtime recital, and concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.

Sylvia Crawford – Sunday, 1pm, Hatch’s Castle

Giving a talk on the life and repertory of eighteenth century harper Patrick Quin is Sylvia Crawford. Sylvia, like Quin is from Co. Armagh, and is currently completing a Masters by Research at Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Sylvia’s talk will also focus on the potential of Irish music in cultural tourism in the Oriel region.

Sylvia combines both a classical and a traditional music background. She teaches and plays early Irish harp, fiddle and piano and she is also actively involved with the running of The Historical Harp Society of Ireland, as well as teaching at Scoil na gCláirseach.

Most recently she has been working with Irish singer, Pádraigín Ní Úallacháin, and Sylvia’s harp music and research features on Pádraigín’s 2017 online project, Oriel Arts.

Michael McHale and William Butt – Sunday, 3pm, St Marys Abbey

Pianist Michael McHale and cellist William Butt (a late replacement for Brian O’Kane) join forces to perform works by and inspired by Bach as the festival closes on Sunday. The hour-long programme will include Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2, Bach’s Italian Concerto as well as Brahms’ glorious Cello Sonata No. 1.

Born in Belfast, 34-year-old Michael McHale’s performing career encompasses solo recital, concerto and chamber music appearances and he enjoys playing both core and contemporary repertoire. He has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists. His critically acclaimed solo album, The Irish Piano, was released in 2012 by RTÉ lyric fm and selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by the critic Norman Lebrecht.

Winner of the Terence Judd / Hallé Award in 2009, Michael was also awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award, and in 2016 a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Michael studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music.

Having performed extensively throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe and the Far East, William Butt is a much admired exponent of the solo repertoire, having performed and broadcast numerous works for this medium by contempory composers, as well as the formidable solo sonatas by Kodaly and Ligeti and the suites of Bach and Britten.

In 1997 he gave the Irish premiere of the Walton concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra, in 2001 the Dvorak concerto with the NSO and 2003 a tour of the Schumann concerto with the NSO.

William Butt’s performances have been broadcast on BBC radio 3 (in recital as well as concerti with the Ulster Orchestra), BBC Radio Ulster, BBC World Service, National television in China, CBC (Canada) and on RTE radio and television.

Renowned celllist William Butt is on the bill for the 2017 Ardee Baroque Festival.

You can find out more information on the Ardee Baroque Festival with our guide here or by checking out their website by clicking here. You can view a gallery of images from last year’s festival on ThisIsArdee.ie here

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