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Programme for Ceiliúradh (Celebration) at Royal Albert Hall announced

Evening of music, spoken word and dance to be live-streamed to global audience and broadcast at home

· Occasion offers us the opportunity to recognise and celebrate our exceptional and long-standing cultural connections with Britain

Friday, March 28th - Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has announced the programme of artists who will be participating in Ceiliúradh (Celebration), a special evening of music, spoken word and dance taking place on Thursday 10th April, 2014 at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

This concert will be the cultural highlight of the 4 day State visit by President Higgins and his wife, Sabina, to Britain as guests of Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.

Ceiliúradh (Celebration) will showcase the strong artistic and creative links that exist between Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as recognising the significant contribution of the Irish community in Britain.

Special guests confirmed for Ceiliúradh (Celebration) include Paul Brady, The Gloaming, Glen Hansard and Imelda May. Also participating will be the renowned actress Fiona Shaw as well as journalists/broadcasters Dermot O'Leary, Olivia O’Leary and author Joseph O’Connor. This once off concert will also feature some surprise guests on the night.

Minister Deenihan commented:

"This is an important concert which will allow Irish creativity, performance and talent to shine as part of this historic visit. Promoted by the Culture Ireland division of my Department, the concert will be a unique and intimate evening of shared stories, music, song and dance. Importantly, this occasion offers us the opportunity to recognise and celebrate our exceptional and long-standing cultural connections with Britain. I hope it will encourage, deepen and strengthen these relationships, which benefit us both, into the future.”

The audience will include invited guests from across the political, economic, social and cultural sectors, as well as those who have contributed to the Irish community in Britain. Tickets for the concert sold out quickly and proceeds from these sales will be used towards the support of future Irish cultural projects in Britain. There may be a limited number of extra tickets made available prior to the event.

Ambassador Dan Mulhall said “a very creative programme has been put together for ‘Ceiliúradh’, this wonderful celebration of our two countries’ extensive ties. Ireland and Britain are joined together by a two-way flow of influences in literature, theatre, music, song and dance. This event will celebrate the cultural connections between our two countries over the years, and will highlight the extraordinary and ongoing contribution of the Irish Community in Britain.”

In addition to the individual artists who will contribute on the night there will also be a house band, featuring some of Ireland's finest musicians including Liam Bradley, John Carty, Anthony Drennan, Graham Henderson, Donal Lunny, Mike McGoldrick, Paul Moore, Caitlin NicGabhann, Mairtin O'Connor and Brendan Power.

The venue’s chief executive Chris Cotton said “It is an enormous honour to welcome the President of Ireland to the Hall for this special event on the occasion of his first State visit to the United Kingdom. I would encourage everyone to join in and become a part of this historic celebration of our shared culture.”

Minister Deenihan concluded “I am delighted that this unique concert will be live streamed by RTE. The diaspora, and those who love Irish culture throughout the world, can enjoy the evening. In Ireland, people will be able to listen live on RTE Radio 1 or view the concert later that evening when broadcast on TV.”


Note to Editors

Royal Albert Hall

Opened in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall is one of the UK's most prestigious venues, with over 370 shows a year featuring some of the world's greatest artists. A registered charity, the programme at the Hall is diverse and inclusive, and it was recently appointed by the Arts Council of England as one of the country's music education hubs

South Wind Blows

Céiliúradh will be curated and produced by the award winning South Wind Blows television and event production company in association with the Royal Albert Hall. South Wind Blows have produced many major television documentary series including Bringing It All Back Home, River of Sound, The Limits of Liberty and Other Voices now in its twelfth season.

Biographical Notes:

Paul Brady

Paul Brady first came to public attention as a member of the edgy 70‘s ballad group The Johnstons. He was a member of Planxty before teaming up with Andy Irvine in the 70’s. His subsequent career as a solo artist and songwriter made him one of the most popular artists on the circuit. His songs have been covered by many artists including by Tina Turner, Bonnie Rait, Dave Edmunds and Santana.

Noel Eccles

Original member of groundbreaking Celtic rock band Moving Hearts, Noel Eccles was also principal percussionist with Ireland’s National Symphony Orchestra. His innovative and original approach to percussion can be heard on numerous film scores and his album credits include U2, The Corrs, Mike Oldfield, The Chieftains, Van Morrison, Secret Garden, DonalLunny, Elmer Bernstein and Elvis Costello.

Aimee Farrell Courtney

Award- winning Musician Aimee Farrell Courtney is one of the world’s leading female bodhrán players. With a unique musical approach to Ireland’s frame drum, Aimee’s style reflects contemporary Irish Traditional music of today, enriched by musical and percussive influences of the world.

Paddy Glackin

Paddy Glackin is one of the most acclaimed fiddle players in the distinctive Donegal traditional style. He has played with most of the major Irish traditional musicians of his generation and was a founder member of the precursor of the Bothy Band, Seachtar. Recently he has been a member of LAPD comprising Donal Lunny, Andy Irivine and piper Liam O Flynn. He appeared in the award winning documentary series on traditional music Bringing It All Back Home for the BBC and RTE.

The Gloaming

Fiddle master Martin Hayes, guitarist Dennis Cahill, sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, hardanger innovator Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman) – The Gloaming are five master musicians, each with highly successful individual careers, who have come together to create new music which pairs memorable, yearning melodies with a progressive style.

Lisa Hannigan

Singer and songwriter Lisa Hannigan began her professional career performing with Damien Rice and featuring as backing vocalist on his groundbreaking album O. After some years on the road with Rice she launched her own solo career bringing out an acclaimed album Sea Sew featuring the hit song “Lille” released as a single. Sea Sew was nominated for a Mercury Prize award in 2009 and was critically acclaimed both in the UK and Ireland. She is now based in London where she in addition to performing writing and recording she presents Soundings an arts and culture podcast with Dylan Haskins

Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard has had one of the most remarkable careers in Irish artistic life. He came to public attention for his role as Outspan in the Alan Parker’s film The Committments. He has had a flourishing career as singer songwriter with his band The Frames. He has also won an Oscar for his song ‘Falling Slowly ‘ the title track of the film ‘Once’ which in turn has gone on to become a Broadway musical and runaway global success

Andy Irvine

A seminal and influential figure in Irish traditional and folk music, Andy Irvine's innovations in traditional music using bouzouki, mandolin, guitar, hurdy gurdy and Eastern European instrumentation have made him a significant stylist within the genre. His characteristic style is much imitated in the playing accompaniment and arrangement of traditional music. He was a founder member of two legendary bands Sweeny’s Men and Planxty . He is equally well known as a song writer.

Dónal Lunny

Musician composer arranger and producer Dónal Lunny has been a founder member of three of the most influential Irish contemporary traditional groups Planxty , The Bothy Band and Moving Hearts in addition to Coolfinn and LAPD. He continues to work as a solo musician, record producer and has composed music for film and and major public events .He is a member of Aosdána the association of distinguished Irish artists.

Neil Martin

Neil Martin is equally at home in either traditional or classical formats. Composer, cellist and an uilleann piper, he is a Music and Celtic studies graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast. Current work includes both chamber music and large scale orchestral work for RTÉ, he is also currently musical director for a new PBS children’s TV series for the Jim Henson company. He is a founder member of West Ocean String Quartet.

Imelda May

Born and raised in the Liberties, one of oldest quarters of Dublin city, Imelda May was in love with rockabilly and blues as a child. By her late teens she had decided on a career in music,found work singing in various groups until in 2003 she formed her own band .Her album “Love Tattoo” led to an appearance on Jools Holland’s influential show ‘Later’ and two singles from the album Johnny’s Got a Boom Boom and Big Bad Handsome Man were immediate hits and have gone on to become Imelda May classics. Her next album ‘Mayhem’ also went to Number 1 in both countries. She is married to her bassist Darrell Higham and is based now in London.

Conor O'Brien

A longtime regular at the standout music tv series Other Voices Conor O’Brien has been attracting rave reviews since he began writing and performing his own material. His distinctive high voice and thoughtful emotional lyrics have drawn other musicians and fans in equal measure. His band Villagers signed by the respected English indie label Domino Record has been twice nominated for Mercury Awards on foot of two outstanding albums in 2010 and 2013. In 2011 he won the prestigious Novello Award for his song Becoming A Jackal and in 2013 won the Meteor Choice Music Award for his album {Awayland}.

Joseph O'Connor

Joseph O’Connor is an award winning writer of short stories novels film scripts screenplays and librettos. He is also a journalist stage performer and broadcaster. His is one of the most popular and familiar voices on Irish radio. His novel Star of the Sea published in 2004 garnered many prestigious accolades and was a global best seller. His forthcoming novel ‘The Thrill of It All’ set amongst the Irish community in England will be published in May.

Dermot O'Leary

Seán Dermot Fintan O'Leary known as Dermot O'Leary is an English television and radio presenter of Irish descent, best known for his current television and radio work with ITV and BBC Radio 2. He began his broadcasting career as a radio DJ but it was his seven year association with Channel 4‘s Big Brother shows which led to a spell presenting a game show on BBC television which in turn led on to presenting the high ratings X Factor on ITV. He continues to present a weekly radio show for BBC2 radio in addition to television presentation of major entertainment events and awards shows.

Olivia O'Leary

Olivia was born and raised in Co Carlow and initially became a print journalist and then tv presenter in current affairs in Dublin. For many years she was a presenter on the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight one of the first women to do so. She has lived in Ireland for many years now and is a regular contributor on Irish radio and co-author of an acclaimed biography of President Mary Robinson. She has won many awards for her journalism and broadcasting.

Eimear Quinn

Eimear Quinn shot to fame as a young soprano when she won the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest with Brendan Graham’s song The Voice. Prior to that she has sung with the choristers of St Patrick’s Cathedral and as a soloist with the choral group Anúna whose song arrangements, Irish material and ethereal vocal style had influenced her own development as a singer . Since then she has pursued a solo career and has collaborated with a diverse range of musicians and composers in addition to her own work as composer and song arranger.

Fiona Shaw

Cork born Irish actress Fiona Shaw has been based in England since the eighties having graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts RADA. She has had a busy and prolific career in the theatre and on screen and is equally accomplished in both media. She has won many awards for film and stage performances in her distinguished career. She is well known to cinema goers for her role as Petunia Dursely in the Harry Potter films. Her most recent acclaimed work has been for her solo performance in Colm Tóibín’s monolgue adaption of his book The Testament of Mary which ran on Broadway in 2013.

West Ocean String Quartet

Formed in 1999, the West Ocean String Quartet’s vision, eclectic repertoire and style have won them global praise. Their music most of it written and arranged by Neil Martin, lies somewhere in between the worlds of classical and traditional music. Disregarding rules and boundaries, they have found for themselves a unique voice, and have collaborated with many leading artists, both on stage and in the studio, including Christy Moore, Mary Black, Liam O’Flynn, Matt Molloy, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill and Brian Kennedy.