‘Songs of Pure Joy’ – Theo Dorgan on ‘Songs of the Scribe’

The world is with us yet, the primal unspoiled world of clear water, clear air and birdsong; it lives in our oldest and in our newest poems and songs, and if it lives it is because great souls have still the power to cut through and back to the original wells. Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin is one of those inner voyagers, an archaeologist of the spirit world, a keeper of tradition, a maker of what is new and will be enduring. There is something uncanny about her ability to sound beauty in her singing, to find the phrase, the art and sympathy that resounds in the attentive soul. These are songs to revive and cleanse the spirit, songs of pure joy.”

– Theo Dorgan (Aosdána)

The 7th Song, The Incantation of Amergin with Pádraigín on vocals and Helen Davies, harp.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4DMJL1av_U]

The Irish Times prints great review of ‘Songs of the Scribe’

The Irish Times have published a great review of Pádraigín’s new album, ‘Songs of the Scribe‘!

SONGS OF THE SCRIBE, Ceoltaí Éireann ****

The contemplative side of our music has been overshadowed by its (unquestionably visceral) dance tunes and big songs, with their emphasis on the social. On Songs of the Scribe , Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, traditional singer-in-residence at Queen’s University’s Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, delves deep into the history of our monastic tradition to dramatic effect.

Her bell-clear voice serves a rich repertoire of incantations, love songs and lamentations, and her choice of Tibetanbowl and harp (from Helen Davies), drones and bells for accompaniment is pitch perfect. Works by both Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson are lovingly honed by Ní Uallacháin’s voice: in particular, her treatment of the iconic poemThe Blackbird of Belfast Lough is a minimalist treasure. Switzerland’s St Gallen’s monastery yields many riches, which singer and harpist pick with great delicacy, melding poetry and music across millennia with a sinuous grace and elegance.

— Siobhan Long, The Irish Times

“Uniquely delightful… a totally absorbing experience” – Seamus Heaney on ‘Songs of the Scribe’

Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney

‘Songs of the Scribe’ is a uniquely delightful work, because of the beauty of the singing and the accompanying bell tones and bowl tones; because of the sweetness and sureness and clarity of the voice and voicing; because of the way the integrity of the verse line is respected; because of the singer’s at-homeness with the poems, in the music and in the modes. Naturally I am proud and privileged to have my translations included and to be linked into the whole enterprise so significantly. The notes to the poems are unostentatiously authoritative and the variety of treatment – as in the different renderings of Ciaran Carson’s blackbird and mine, or the chant mode of the Amergin vision, or the kept accent of ‘Pangur Ban’ – makes listening a totally absorbing experience.

Seamus Heaney

My Mind’s Desire featuring Pádraigín on vocals and Helen Davies on harp from ‘Songs of the Scribe’

Two Pádraigín interviews to air on Monday 19th

Update 20/12/11: Listen to Arts Extra interview on iPlayer or to Arts Tonight on the RTÉ Radio player.

Pádraigín will be interviewed about her album, ‘Songs of the Scribe‘ on Monday 19 December. The first interview will broadcast between 6:30-7:00pm on BBC Radio Ulster’s Arts Extra with Marie Louis Muir. The second will air at 8:00pm on RTÉ Radio 1′s Arts Tonight‘ at 8:00pm.

You can listen to both programmes live on radio and online at the RTÉ Radio and BBC Radio websites, and for a week afterwards on RTÉ Radio Player and BBC iPlayer (direct links posted above). Comments welcome below!

Indian and Irish poets create ‘world first’ cultural event

Some of Ireland’s most distinguished poets have joined together with their Indian counterparts to celebrate a week long festival of languages and culture in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Believed to be the first event of its kind, this cultural festival provides the literary traditions of India and Ireland an opportunity to build on the shared history of excellence in poetry from W.B. Yeats and Rabindranath Tagore to today’s finest writers and critics including Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.
Today’s event, which takes place at 7pm in the Oberoi Grand Hotel, Kolkata has been supported by the British Council and Queen’s University Belfast, where many of the participating Irish poets are based.

Those taking part from India are: Ashoke Viswanathan; Jayanta Mahapatra; Sunil Gangopadhyaly; Professor Babaneeta Dev Sen; Srijato and Manang Dai. The Irish delegation includes: Michael Longley, Ireland Chair of Poetry and one of the foremost living poets in the English language; Ciaran Carson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queens University; Ed Larrissy, Professor of Poetry at the School of English at Queen’s; Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, traditional singer in residence at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, and Edna Longley, Professor Emerita at Queen’s.

Queen's University India collaboration

Speaking about the evening President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Peter Gregson said: “Since the early 20th century Queen’s has been home to a vibrant and diverse poetic tradition. Indeed, it is little surprise that the Times Literary Supplement has said that ‘poetry is now the activity for which Queen’s is best-known throughout the English-speaking world.’

“Queen’s has many assets, but our reputation as a centre for poetry is one that we particularly prize. Few other universities in Britain and Ireland can point to such a wealth of talent, and such a single contribution to modern poetry.
“It is therefore a great privilege that Queen’s can share this wealth of talent with fellow artists in India and compare how their experiences have helped shape modern-day contemporary Indian and Irish poetry.”

Taking part in the event, Ciaran Carson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s said: “Poetry is one of the areas for which Queen’s University is internationally known, and the Seamus Heaney Centre is at the heart of that endeavour, whether through the work of its poets and critics, or its links with other art-forms, especially traditional singing and music. Poetry transcends international boundaries and we greatly look forward to exploring it further with our fellow poets in India.”

The visit to Kolkata was part of a ten day visit to India by a senior delegation from Queen’s University and also included visiting major institutions in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen existing links and to develop new partnerships which would be of mutual benefit to the Indian economy and education sector and those of Northern Ireland.