How was it for you? Cathy Desmond's highlights from 2017

Our regular contributors select their highlights of the year.

Best Opera

The nymphs and shepherds in Opera Theatre Company’s, Acis and Galatea lost none of their charms on being relocated to a pub in rural Ireland. A concert performance of Julius Caesar in Kilkenny proved that superb singing is enough to deliver spine tingling thrills. In Wexford, the gem was among the Short Works with the operatic treatment of Joyce’s Dubliners.

Concerts

The recently formed Cork Concert Orchestra proved that they had the skills and fire power to deliver a night of excellent musicianship with a sense of occasion at their Russian Gala at City Hall. Waterford-Music celebrated 75 years of unbroken chamber music recitals in the city with an evening that kept faith with the past and present. The lavish interior of St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle was the perfect location for a recreation of the soundtrack of 18th century Dublin by Ensemble Marsyas.

Book

Dispatches from Pluto; Richard Grant’s wry and insightful accounts of the extremes of life in the Mississippi Delta. Grant delves into the decaying landscape, the blues history and the realities of the lingering racial tensions.

Film

The documentary maker, Phil Grabsky was in SGC Dungarvan to present his Van Gogh documentary, the latest in his series, Exhibition on Screen. The life and works of the Dutch master were brought vividly to life, all from the comfort of a local cinema seat.

Celebrity encounter

I felt as though I had fallen down my own Alice-like rabbit hole as I sat over tea cups in composer Gerald Barry’s cosy kitchen in Stonybatter chatting about the Irish premier of his new opera.

Fionnuala Moynihan’s enthusiasm was also infectious and it was a pleasure to chat the Cork pianist ahead of her Mozart marathon at the Triskel.

Radio

Scottish composer James McMillan was my favourite castaway in BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. Also on BBC Radio 4, the Mastertapes series is compelling listening.

Theatre

In London’s Old Vic Theatre, I was impressed by Conor McPherson’s new jukebox musical, The Girl from the North Country (officially a play with songs by Bob Dylan) which transfers to Broadway soon. Closer to home it was great to see locally produced musical theatre back on the stage of the Theatre Royal in Waterford Music Society’s charming production Man of La Mancha.

Best Festivals

In Krakow, Misteria Paschalia was an opportunity to enjoy a feast of sacred Baroque music in many of the city’s historic venues. In Bantry, it was easy to see why West Cork Chamber Music Festival draws loyal followers back year after year. I particularly enjoyed the Pavel Haas Quartet playing Beethoven in the elegant Library of Bantry House late in the evening.

Lowlights

I will miss the jazz club above JJ Smyths. Birthplace of Thomas Moore, the Aungier Street property which has been a pub since the early 18th century is to be converted to flats.


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