One of the truly seminal bands in Irish music today, Altan started out in the early 1980s as a duo of Belfast flute-player, Frankie Kennedy and Gweedore singer and fiddler, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. They specialized in performing old Donegal fiddle music (then little known outside Donegal) and unusual Northern flute tunes and rapidly became known for the style, power and inventiveness of their playing.
Saturday 24th October
Evening Concert – Altan / Cran
7.30 pm ¤ London Irish Centre ¤ £15 advance, £17 on door, £6 under 18s
The band has evolved over the years, in particular developing its trademark twin fiddle sound. Presently playing fiddle opposite Mairéad is the great Donegal fiddler, Ciaran Tourish. The band has recently been joined by Ciaran’s cousin, Martin, on piano accordion. Martin is also a composer of note and was the recipient of the 2008 TG4 ‘Young Musician of the Year’ award.
Altan was signed to Virgin Records in 1996, the first Irish band of its kind to sign with a major label. They have since gone on to gain gold and platinum albums and have appeared throughout the world. Their latest album, The Widening Gyre, was recorded in Nashville and is a collaboration with friends and guests to explore the influence of Appalachian music on Irish music. It features, among others, Alison Brown, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bruce Molsky, Todd Phillips, Bryan Sutton, Darol Anger, Tim O’Brien, Eddi Reader and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Cran are Ronan Browne, uilleann pipes, flute and vocals, Desi Wilkinson, flute and vocals and Sean Corcoran, bouzouki and vocals. The band’s performances combine musical virtuosity with songs, humour, banter and stories.
They combine dance music, haunting slow airs on flute and pipes and songs, ranging from the highly-ornamented sean-nós of Conamara to the port a’bhéil or mouth music of Donegal. Their repertoire includes songs in Irish and English, covering the entire gamut from the old story-telling “long ballads” to lively comic songs of “pure divilment and rascality”.