THE village of Borris welcomed more than 100 young and professional performers for the fifth annual Music@Mount Leinster festival of traditional Irish music, which ran from 18-21 February.
Organised by Music Generation Carlow, the event brought together trad groups from five counties in Ireland for a week of workshops, seisiúns, masterclasses and concerts.
The week began with a three-day senior festival, where established ensembles had an opportunity to work under the mentorship of one of the leading names on the trad scene. These senior groups from Music Generation Carlow, Laois, Mayo, Sligo and Wicklow were challenged with a new repertoire to extend and develop their playing, ahead of a superb finalé concert on Wednesday 20 February at the Step House Hotel in Borris.
On Thursday, junior musicians and newly-formed groups joined Music @ Mount Leinster for the developmental strand of the festival. Over two days these younger musicians had a chance to hone their skills and explore new pieces with Music Generation tutors from neighbouring counties.
In addition to Wednesday’s gala concert performance, the visiting musician-mentors took to the stage at the Step House on the previous day to showcase their own music. Festival participants and members of the public were bowled over by the performances, which included solo and collaborative music by David Lombardi, Marty Barry, Michael Rooney, Martin Tourish, James Mahon, Clara Mannion and Lucia Mac Partlin.
Music @ Mount Leinster was conceived in 2014. The initiative, now under the artistic direction of Carlow-based musicians Áine Donohoe and Ciarán Somers, was born out of a strong culture of traditional music in Borris and is now firmly established on the county’s trad music calendar. As a residential festival, participants are hosted for workshops as well as overnight in dormitory accommodation at Borris Vocational School – a long-time partner and supporter of the event.
The festival is funded through the Music Generation/Arts Council Partnership with support from Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board and Carlow County Council.