Flights of Fancy

Artist Name(s) Malachy Bourke, Patrick Caryannis, Aoife Ni Fhearraigh, Julie Fowlis, Johnny Gogan, Cathal Hayden, Nuala Hayes, Maeve Mackinnon, Mary McPartlan, Padraig Meehan, Jeanette Mokoena, Anna Murray, Regina Nathan, Little John Nee, Sylvia O’Brien, Mairtin O'Connor, Seamie O’Dowd, Joanna Slowinska, Mary Smith, Rosie Stewart, Levi Tafari, Vincent Woods, Ronan Wilmot, The Rough Deal String Band, Shanallen Choir & Suaimhneas Choral Singers
Artwork title Flights of Fancy

This Per Cent for Art project arose out of the Leitrim Towns and Villages Sewerage Infrastructure Scheme which provided for upgrading of sewerage facilities in eleven communities in county Leitrim. The multiplicity and the rural nature of the locations affected by the capital works programme provided an interesting opportunity to create a performing arts series which investigated the feasibility of bringing performing arts of the highest quality and significance to small, out-lying communities and community managed venues. The Arts Office availed of the opportunity provided by the 2004 public art guidelines to programme by direct invitation to the artists concerned following a curatorial process which engaged community members in each area as joint programmers.

Flights of Fancy successfully demonstrated that it is possible to have high quality performance arts events in small community run venues, and that the additional inputs and flexibility sometimes required from performers, communities, programmers and publicists was well off-set by the special and often magical qualities of each event, by the impact and relevance of the event to the local area and by the generation of new audiences for the performing arts. The project further succeeded in animating the communities and has the potential to lead to further public engagement with the performing arts.

The events themselves included the world premiers of a new works of contemporary ballet presented by Chrysalis Dance in Cloone Community Centre and of Little John Nee’s new show Dead Rooster Blues. Rastafarian poet Levi Tafari from Liverpool brought the magic of performance poetry to Liscarbin Hall. Suaimhneas Choir from Rooskey had an opportunity to hear and perform with singer Regina Nathan, while the Shanallen Choir in Ballinaglera took part in an evening of classical music with leading musicians Elizabeth Cooney, Hanna Shybayeva, Caitriona Ryan and Sylvia O’Brien. There were new collaborations between artists in The Ridge of Two Demons, a specially written piece of street theatre for Dromahair which involved local artists, musicians, writers, composers and actors, another new collaboration was between musicians and theatre performers for The Tailor and Ansty in Tullaghan. Musicians from different places got to hear from one another and perform together in Drumkeerin and Kiltyclogher, while in Jamestown, the Agricultural Show field was turned into a venue for contemporary jazz. In Kinlough, a village with a large new community saw the first Irish performance of a Polish folk legend, Joanna Slowinska.


Printed programme
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Suaimhneas Choral Singers
Suaimhneas with its Irish name meaning 'tranquil' was set up in July of 2003. Suaimhneas Choral Singers is made up of singers from counties Leitrim, Roscommon and Longford under the artistic and musical direction of Derek Mahady. This adult group which sings in 4-parts perform a wide range of choral repertoire some of which can be categorised as Classical, Irish, Popular and Musical Theatre. They have gained a following locally for their previous concerts which include Vivaldi's 'Gloria', Benjamin Britten's 'A Ceremony of Carols', selections taken from Handel's ‘Messiah’ and John Rutter's 'Requiem'.

Regina Nathan
Regina Nathan's career in opera, concert and recital has taken her from her native Ireland across Europe, and as far as Kuala Lumpur and New York's Carnegie Hall.  She has enraptured audiences throughout Ireland, London's Wigmore Hall, Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet, and famously with Placido Domingo in Dublin's Point Theatre. She has sung major lyric soprano roles internationally, including Puccini’s Cio Cio San (Madama Butterfly), Verdi’s Violetta (La Traviata), Handel’s Cleopatra (Julius Caeser), Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah (Susannah) and Norma in Bellini’s Norma.  She became a household name in Ireland through the chart topping album Faith of Our Fathers which she recorded with Frank Paterson in 1997.

Voices Of The Outer Hebrides / Mná Na N-Oileán
Mary Smith (Mairi Nic a’ Ghobhainn), from the Isle of Lewis, for many years one of the great figures of Scots Gàidhlig song, who has received an MBE in recognition of her lifetimes work. She is also highly regarded as one of Scotland’s leading visual artists.

Anna Murray, also from Lewis, is an accomplished singer and piper and has already issued 4 acclaimed CDs. She is also a TV presenter and is well-known as an actress on the popular BBC Gàidhlig soap, “Machair”.

Julie Fowlis, BBC Young Traditional Musican of the Year Award for 2008 and a recent visitor to Manorhamilton, Julie Fowlis is one of the rising young stars of Scottish song and a multi-instrumentalist. Tours internationally with her band and has two highly-acclaimed albums to her credit.

Maeve Mackinnon – another of the rising young stars of Scottish song with a voice that has been described as “achingly beautiful”, her TV and touring concerts cover a wide range of material from Gàidhlig to Irish and Bluegrass.

Aoife Ni Fhearraigh – originally from Donegal, Aoife has taken the wealth of musical tradition from her native Gweedore area and made it her own. Through four albums and collaborations with top Irish musicians, including Phil Coulter and James Galway, Aoife’s voice has a timeless quality which lends itself to traditional songs in Irish and English.

Jeanette Mokoena - originally from South Africa, Janette has lived in Galway for the past three years. She has already become known as an advocate for the passionate and inspirational music associated with South Africa. She has performed at The Spirit of the Voice Festival and at various concerts in Galway and Mayo.

Rosie Stewart is based in Kiltyclogher and is one of Ireland’s most respected singers and an authority on traditional Irish singing and the worthy recipient of the TG4 Singer of the year 2006. She is generous with her talent and knowledge and teaches at workshops and classes at summer schools in Ireland and abroad in the summer months.

Levi Tafari
Dub poet Levi Tafari was born in Liverpool. He is the author of 4 poetry collections: Duboetry (1987), Liverpool Experience (1989), Rhyme Don't Pay (1998) & From the Page to the Stage (2006). He is also a playwright, and has worked on educational creative writing projects in schools, colleges, universities, youth centres, prisons and libraries

His Jamaican family background has influenced his work which is described as “crucial, rhythmic, consciousness-raising and educational”. Levi Tafari has given performances in many major venues throughout Europe, the Middle East, Far East, Africa and the USA. He was invited to Cork as part of the Capital of Culture celebrations there. His musical projects include work with Ghanaian drum and dance ensemble Delado, the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and with his own reggae fusion band Ministry of Love and jazz musician Dennis Rollins.

Little John Nee
Little John Nee was born in Glasgow, spent his summers in Donegal, and returned to his parents hometown of Letterkenny when he was 12. He currently lives in Tuam. He has created a theatrical style of storytelling all his own – his shows are both entertaining and poignant, and always include original music played live. His magnetic performances have gained a reputation at home and abroad – he was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award in Washington. His shows The Derry Boat (1998), The Ballad of Jah Kettle (2000) Donda Esta Jesus Fahy? (2001) Country and Irish (2002) Salt o The Earth (2003) and Rural Electric (2004) The Mental (2005) and Star of Stage, Screen and Street Corners (2006) have all toured extensively to enthusiastic audiences and reviews.

Mary McPartlan
Mary McPartlan is one of the most talented singers to come out of the Irish scene in recent years. The Drumkeerin native released her critically acclaimed album. The Holland Handkerchief in January 2004 to hugely positive reviews and was Mojo Magazine’s album of the month. Mary was nominated for Best Folk Act award at the Meteor Music Awards. Her second album Petticoat Loose was released in February 2008. Three songs were written by Vincent Woods and set to music by Mairtín O’Connor. The crafting, development and recording of all the material comes from her long association with the multi-instrumentalist and producer Seamie O’Dowd.

Vincent Woods
Vincent Woods is a poet and playwright from Tarmon, near Drumkeerin. He began writing full-time in 1989. His plays for stage include John Hughdy/Tom John; At the Black Pig's Dyke and Song of the Yellow Bittern. His radio play, The Leitrim Hotel, was a prizewinner in the P.J. O'Connor awards for radio drama and his poetry collections include The Colour of Language published by Dedalus Press. Woods is a member of Aosdana. He has won The Stewart Parker Award for Drama, the PJ O'Connor Award for Radio Drama and the M.J. McManus Award for Poetry. He currently presents The Arts Show on RTE Radio One.

Seamie O’Dowd
Seamie O’Dowd is a stalwart and a leading light of the music scene in the north west, being involved in trad, rock and jazz projects. Fiddler, guitarist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist he has contributed much to the development of music in the area. He has played and recorded with Dervish for six years and with Mairtin O’Connor for nearly a decade, most recently as part of the extremely popular touring line up with Cathal Hayden. With Mary McPartlan, he has worked as musical director/arranger for the P.J. Curtis produced The Holland Handkerchief album.

Mairtin O Connor
Máirtín O’Connor’s has been a member of many of traditional music's leading groups including Midnight Well, De Dannan, The Boys of the Lough and Skylark. His albums A Connachtman's Rambles, Perpetual Motion and Chatterbox are renowned and huge selling classics of the trad genre. Máirtín's infectious and irresistible style and constantly growing status has kept him very busy not only with live concerts but also as a session musician on recordings by many national and international musicians such as Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, Mark Knofler, Tanita Tikaram, Townes Van Zandt, Chieftains, the Dubliners, Davy Spillane, Máire Brennan and The Waterboys.

Cathal Hayden
As a solo artist and as a member of Arcady and Four Men and a Dog, Cathal Hayden has helped bring Irish Traditional Music to a worldwide stage. Through his virtuoso playing he has become an ambassador for fiddle and banjo players and for the country as a whole. He is originally from near Pomeroy in Co Tyrone and when not performing to packed venues in America, China or Australia, Cathal is just as content playing to a few people in his quiet local pub.

The Rough Deal String Band
is not an American string band, but you wouldn't know it from the sound of the music. This is an Irish band composed primarily of musicians who, while not born to the U.S. old-time music tradition, have come to love it and have made it theirs; Bill Whelan, 5 string banjo; Tim Rogers, Fiddle and Vocals and Ben Keogh, Guitar and Vocals. The music they play comes from many sources, much of it gleaned from recordings both old and new, some have been begged, borrowed or stolen from the many old-time musicians who have crossed their paths.

Nuala Hayes
Nuala Hayes trained as an actor with the Abbey Theatre and was a member of the Abbey company for 5 years. She has performed at many arts and storytelling festivals throughout Ireland and the UK, in Spain, Denmark, USA and Toronto. In 2007, she was nominated for Best Irish Actress in a Leading Role in The Irish Times Theatre Awards.

Ronan Wilmot
Ronan Wilmot is one of Ireland's top stage and film actors appearing in such films as The General, The Butcher Boy, In the Name of the Father, The Field and The Snapper. On stage he has acted with The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court, The Young Vic, The Abbey and The Peacock among others. His television performances include On Home Ground and Batchelor’s Walk.

Malachy Bourke
Malachy Bourke was raised in Connemara and his first influence and teacher was master fiddle player Frankie Gavin. With his solo CD  Draw the Bow and duet CD Bourke and Dwyer with Dublin piper Donnacha Dwyer, he continues to move forward with his music. He has recently returned from touring in Australia with the acclaimed Galway Arts Festival production of Trad.

Patrick Caryannis
Patrick Carayannis was born in Paris and moved to Ireland with his family when he was 10.  He developed a keen interest in jazz and moved to New York to study with some of its leading proponents, including legendary guitarist, John Abercrombie. He has composed music for both theatre and dance as well as leading projects combining jazz musicians with luminaries from the NYC ska scene. Now settled in Leitrim, he has taken a step into the world of Irish Traditional music.

Johnny Gogan
Johnny Gogan is a Dromahair based film maker and writer whose features The Last Bus Home (1997) and Mapmaker (2001) are both productions of his Leitrim-based company Bandit Films

Padraig Meehan
Padraig Meehan is from Roscommon and first achieved near stardom with Those Nervous Animals in the eighties. In 1997/98 he worked with choreographer Mary McDonagh on a boyband project, IOYOU, who went on to become Westlife. He wrote a book about this time which was published in 2004 by Brandon Books as Karaoke No More. his radio play In Beria’s Orchard was shortlisted for the Prix Europa and he has produced original music for street spectacle as part of Sligo Arts Festival.

Sylvia O’Brien
Irish soprano Sylvia O’Brien has recently toured with English Touring Opera in the UK and in Ireland with Opera Theatre Company. Sylvia was highly praised for her recent performance in the St. John Passion with the Irish Chamber Orchestra in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Other highlights included singing Seoirse Bodley works with Seoirse Bodley on piano in the Hugh Lane Gallery and a concert with Dublin County Choir in the National Concert Hall which included Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and the Irish premiere of Paul McCartney’s Ecce Cor Meum. Sylvia will sing the role of Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Orchestra of St.Cecilia/conductor Kenneth Montgomery in the National Concert Hall in November.

Shanallen Choir
The Shanallen Choir was founded in 2003 with singers from West Cavan and the Ballinaglera Parish. Its aim is to give its members the opportunity to enjoy singing on a regular basis and to provide choral music for all occasions, including church festivals, local festivals, celebrations and funerals. Its Director, Aedín McLoughlin, has taught choirs and musical societies on the East coast for over 20 years and has directed many shows, including The Merry Widow, Oklahoma and The Desert Song.
The Shanallen Choir has a repertoire that includes church music, popular and traditional Irish songs, and classical works. It joined with the joint Leitrim choirs last summer in Carrick-on-Shannon as part of the Water Music Festival and last Christmas travelled to Derry for a carol concert.

Joanna Slowinska
Contemporary Polish folk singer and violin player, Joanna Slowinska will perform with a 6 piece band of talented Kracow folk musicians playing double-bass, altos, accordion, percussion, flute and saxophone. This is her first visit to Ireland and she is coming especially for the Kinlough concert. Her recent performance at the Scottish Fiddle Festival was “stunning - a real fiddle diva”.

Joanna won ”Folk Album of the Year” from Polish Radio for her solo record Live in Alchemia and in 2006 – as a solist of Tu es Petrus i Psa?terz Wrze?niowy - she received Multiplatinum Record from Phonographic Academy, ZPAV. She also was honoured with Grand Prix of Polish Radio Festival New Tradition 2004, the Independent Audience Award and Special Award of Polonia TV and Actor Song Festival in Wroc?aw.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Leitrim County Council
Commissioning process Curatorial and direct invitation process involving local people and groups in programming and designing the events jointly with the Arts Office.
Project commission dates May 31, 2008 - September 19, 2008
Public Presentation dates April 18, 2008 - September 19, 2008
Artform Dance,Literature,Music,Theatre
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 31/05/2008
Project commission end date 19/09/2008
Location 11 villages throughout county Leitrim
County Leitrim
Content contributor(s) Kate McCarthy
Relationship to project Devised and cordinated project
Public engagement

Over 70 people participated in the programming, coordination and management of the project. Meetings took place from mid 2007 until the programme finished. A number of groups involved in project have expressed interested in programming further arts events in the future.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Programme was supported by staff from Leitrim County Council Arts Office and Production Manager Brendan McDermott. 



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