Common Tongue

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Common Tongue
          …is a unique trio combining sean-nós singing, improvising saxophone and live electronics. Formed in 2009 this group of musicians, each highly acclaimed in his own field, have together undertaken an exploration and re-contextualization of the art of sean-nós, providing new melodies (composed by Ian Wilson) to old Irish songs, considering fresh ways of defining and presenting melody itself and, in the process, finding a new, 21st-century equilibrium between the notions of tradition and experimentation.

Lorcán Mac Mathúna was born in Cork into a family with a passion for traditional music and singing. Much of his singing has been passed to him by his father Séamus and was passed to him in turn by masters of the tradition from places like Cúl Aodha, where he lived at a time when the Irish nation seemed to discover its rich heritage through people like Seán Ó’Riada. The influences on Lorcán’s style have been diverse and all of them deeply personal.
          Sean-nós is a soulful and emotionally expressive style of music and when it strikes a resonance with the listener it can have a dramatic and revelatory effect. Lorcán’s greatest influences have been such moments and each song he has learned started as a singularly striking performance in some personal encounter with the tradition. From this he has developed a personal style, confident in his empathy with the tradition, which is controlled and exciting and which expresses the feeling of his songs and connects the listener to the emotions of the songs’ creators.

Cathal Roche is an improvising saxophonist and composer based in County Sligo. He has collaborated with composer Ian Wilson on a number of projects including the partly improvisational works re:play (2007) and Double Trio (2009). In November 2007 Cathal collaborated with composer Hugh O’Neill, choreographer Rebecca Walter and dancers from Catapult Dance on Did I make you up? in the Project Arts Centre, Dublin.
          Cathal has composed a number of pieces for solo saxophone such as The Message (2006) and The Host (2007). Apart from his solo work, Cathal has also written for a number of ensembles in Ireland such as the Kai Big Band (Tigisti, 2006) and the RISE Saxophone Quartet (Rat’s Nest, 2007, premiered in The Helix, Dublin). He was commissioned by the 2008 Sligo Jazz Project to compose a new work for saxophone sextet featuring Julian Arguelles and the RISE Saxophone Quartet. Cathal was a featured soloist at the 2008 and 2011 Sligo New Music Festivals.

Ian Wilson is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed and often-performed composers. He has written over 100 works in all genres and his music has been performed and broadcast on six continents at festivals such as the BBC Proms and Venice Biennale and in venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall and Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw. He was director of the Sligo New Music Festival between 2003 and 2011 and his music is published by Ricordi London and Universal Edition.