Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Tobin’s tour of Ireland

September 2, 2009

After a lengthy and partly intentional hiatus, I return to maintaining this online diary with a reminder  – thanks to the online Jazzwise Magazine – that one of my favourite jazz singers, the award-wining Christine Tobin, is to begin her Irish tour in October. 

Christine Tobin is to embark on a major autumn Irish tour beginning next month. From Dublin originally but long since resident in England in London and more recently Kent, Christine Tobin says: “I’m delighted to have a tour in Ireland – back in the home country. It’s very important to me because although I have done the odd gig in Dublin this is my first tour there since the late-1990s and significantly it’s my first tour there since I was awarded best vocalist at the BBC Jazz Awards. I say significantly because I’m the only Irish person ever to receive a BBC Jazz Award and I’m very proud to return with such an accolade.”

 Tour dates

 Cleeres, Kilkenny (1 October);

Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford (2 October),

Siamsa Tire Theatre Tralee (3 October),

Carnegie Arts Centre, Kenmare (4 October),

Triiskel Jazz at Jurys Hotel, Cork (6 October),

De Burgos, Galway (7 October)

Mermaid Arts Centre., Bray (8 October),

 Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge (9 October),

Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny (10 October)

JJ Smyths, Dublin (11 October).


Discovering Ailish Tynan.

July 8, 2009

In October last year, when I was writing about the soprano Babrara  Kilduff, I posted an excerpt from Mozart’s  Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by way of illustrating of how good a singer Ms. Kilduff is.

Today I have just discovered the delights of the Irish-born soprano Ailish Tynan, and as a way of illustrating just how good she is, I am putting a link to the Papageno and Papagena duet, sung by Tynan and Simon Keenlyside, in Royal Opera House Covent Garden’s 2003 production of that very same opera.

Phil Robson wins at 2009 Parliamentary Awards.

May 21, 2009

Last year I was pleased to post my congratulations to Chrisine Tobin on her win at the BBC Jazz Awards.

Today, it is with great pleasure to say congratulations to her life-partner, frequent musical partner, and ace guitarist, Phil Robson for last evening’s win in the Best Musician category of the 2009 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.

 The great and good – our MPs, that is – may not be getting much right recently, but in choosing Phil they can congratulate themselves on getting something right this time.

Phil Robson giving musical support to Christine Tobin at ''The Crypt' London, 07th September 2007.

Phil Robson giving musical support to Christine Tobin at ''The Crypt' London, 07th September 2007.

Photo by Helena Dornellas















The winners of the 2009 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, announced last night at the House of Commons, are:

Jazz Musician: Phil Robson

Jazz CD: The Sam Crockatt Quartet – Howeird

Jazz Ensemble: Ryan Quigley Sextet

Jazz Venue: Fleece Jazz (South East England)

Jazz Journalist:Kevin LeGendre

Jazz Broadcaster: Sarah Ward

Jazz Publication:

Jazz Education: Richard Michael

Services to Jazz:Val Wilmer

Julie London’s class.

May 7, 2009
BBC 4’s Legends series has been a very useful, if only because, on occasion,  it reintroduces the viewer to a popular artist whose artistary has, for some reason, been forgotten. Tuesday night’s  night’s programme, Julie London – The Lady’s Not a  Vamp, although not the most imaginatively titled or the most  revealing or searching of programmes, did remand at least one viewer of just how good London at her very best could be.

There has always been a problem with saying that one took her singing seriously. It was that everybody knew – of thought they knew – that what one was really taking seriously was the vocal sexiness that was married  to a body that men desired. The truth is that those that while those attributes counted in the short run, they counted less than people thought in the long run. In the long run, and this is the only run that counts, she had the kind of delivery, eschewing, as it did, the dramatics that tempted many of her contemporaries, that could hold the listener in thrall for hours, not because of how it sounded but because of what it sounded.

Her voice was at its very best when accompanied by a small group of musicians. It’s risky for a popular singer to be wholly dependent of on the voice alone, but London, despite her proclaimed – and seemingly ever present – lack confidence in her own vocal talent, took that risk , and the result for the listener was usually breathtaking.

Her vocal style has been described as being sultry, sexy, “come-hither”, intimate, breathy, warm, smoky, haunting, husky, sullen, sad, suggestive and seductive. It was all those things and more.

Composer Muriel Herbert (1897-1984).

May 3, 2009

The Observer’s CD of the week, written about by Fiona Maddocks, is Songs of Muriel Herbert(LINN CKD 335) sung by the Irish soprano, Ailish Tynan and the tenor, James Gilchrist  to piano accompaniment provided by David Owen Norris.

 That this collection of thirty six songs now sees the light of day is in good part due to the efforts of Herbert’s daughter, the literary critic and biographer Claire Tomalin, who, believing that her mother’s compositions – song settings – deserved to be saved for posterity, set about making a collection of them.

Fiona Maddox, in her review, suggests that in finding Herbert’s is  “a new body of work exciting and lasting”

 …this collection of her art songs and performed here by a superb trio of musicians. Their commitment alone endorses the music’s quality. Herbert studied music in an era when professional women composers were rare as woodlarks, yet every genteel young woman was expected to play and sing.

 …..Piano accompaniments are poignant and skilfully played by David Owen Norris. Ailish Tynan and James Gilchrist sing with open-hearted commitment. I hope the pair incorporate many of these works into their recitals. Steeped in the English song tradition of the early 20th century, they grow on you with each listening.

In order to show that Maddocks has not overstated the case, I have included in this posting another soprano, Elisabeth Goell, singing Herbert’s setting of W.B.Yeats’s poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree

La Sheridan remembered.

April 19, 2009

The only female operatic voice I was familiar with before I entered my teens was that of soprano Margaret Burke-Sheridan (1889-1958). She was probably brought to my attention because she was actually born in Castlebar, the  County Mayo town situated not all that far from my own home town of Ballina


Burke-Sheridan’s recording of I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls (from the opera The Bohemian Girl by Michael William Balfe was, I seem to recall, regularly played the national radio station, Radio Éireann (later to become RTÉ),  and whenever it was, one could be depend upon it that some fellow listener would point out that Burke Sheridan was a “Mayo woman”.


It was only much later that I learned that Burke Sheridan was much more than a local celebrity with a very appealing voice.  She had, in professional opera-singing career that began rather late and lasted a mere 12 years, performed on stages throughout the world, among them Covent Garden, in Milan and Naples, and at the prestigious Carnivale season at Rimini, with all the greats, including the tenors Aureliano Pertile and Beniamino Gigli  and the autocratic music director of La Scala Arturo Toscanini, and was coached by the great Giacomo Puccini 


Indeed Puccini openly admitted to being spellbound by her moving interpretation of Cio-Cio San in his Madame Butterfly and when Gigli was making his debut in Covent Garden, he chose her as his leading lady.


She was fully deserving of her celebrity.



Commemorative stamp of Margaret Burke-Sheridan birth anniversary. Image from Wikipedia.


 RTE One at the 2008 Margaret Burke-Sheridan Exhibition in Castlebar, County Mayo only  

Margaret Burke Sheridan  and mezzo Ida Mannarini sing the Flower duet (“Una nave da guerra”) from the 1929/1930 La Scala production recording of  Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” .


La Sheridan – a gala operatic tribute to Margaret Burke Sheridan

RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Orla Boylan soprano
Anne Marie Gibbons mezzo-soprano
Alfie Boe tenor
John Wilson conductor

Pre-concert talk by Margaret Burke Sheridan’s biographer, author Anne Chambers in the Carolan Room at 6.45pm

Wednesday 29 April, 8pm

Tickets: €15, €30, €45 (concessions available)
Booking: 01 417 0000


Russell Davies on Artie Shaw.

December 11, 2008

It’s not often one can say that one is looking foward to the repeat of a TV programme, let alone say that one looks forward to its being repeated twice, but I can say witout any hesitation that these are two repeats  of a  of a single programme that I’m actually looking forward to with some eagerness.

Radio Times

Artie Shaw: Quest for Perfection

Saturday 20 December
11:30pm – 12:30am

Sunday 21 December
2:45am – 3:50am

Russell Davies looks at the life and music of composer and clarinettist Artie Shaw, charting his achievements with previously unseen footage and musical clips from the 1930s and ’40s.

Presenter Russell Davies, who is interviewed  here about the programme, well understands that Shaw the man could be a bit prickly, and therefore not everyone’s cup, but he also understands that Shaw was a consummate musician who for a decade or so was peerless.