Fiona Kelly is a London-based flautist from Cork. She is one of the musicians appearing at Ortús Chamber Music Festival which will take in venues in and around Cork over the weekend of Feb 23-25, writes Des O’Driscoll.
Best recent book you’ve read:
Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage. I read his Northern Lights trilogy years ago and loved it and was not disappointed by his latest book. Beautiful fantasy escapism.
Best recent film:
I just saw Three Billboards... Francis McDormand for the Oscar!
Best recent show or gig you’ve seen:
The Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican. He died tragically at 27, but his output of work and collaborations with artists such as Andy Warhol is impressive in such a short life.
Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):
Goldenhair, an album by LA-based Irish composer Brian Byrne, set to the words of James Joyce — heavy jazz influence, with an Irish twist, and Cork’s dazzling Cara O’ Sullivan features too.
First ever piece of music or gig that really moved you:
Over 20 years ago, my sister was playing the harp in a production of Puccini’s La Boheme at Cork Opera House.
I remember coming home and finding a CD with an English translation of the libretto and obsessively reading the words along to the music over and over. It had a huge impact.
The best gig or performance you’ve ever seen:
Tina Turner at the O2 in London a good few years ago.
I was loving The Good Wife on Netflix. [It has recently been removed from the streaming service]
Radio and/or podcasts:
Podcasts — Blindboy of Rubberbandits. I’ll sound like an old lady, but I’m a big fan of
Desert Island Discs.
You’re curating your dream festival – which three artists are on the bill, living or dead?
This is really hard but my feeling right now would be David Bowie, Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin .
Best famous celebrity encounter:
My first ever celebrity encounter was meeting Mary Robinson when she was President, at the opening of the National Sculpture Factory in Cork.
I was a very tiny person and I remember shaking her hand and afterwards being so in awe that I refused point blank to ever wash that hand again... it’s been washed since, I promise!
You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event – where, when, and why?
1920s, Paris. So many amazing artists that dipped in and out of the city at that time. For the music — Cole Porter, they don’t make songwriters like that any more.
The dancing, fashion, art - Picasso, Surrealism... it definitely would have been a fun place to be a freelance musician!
Any interesting ancestors or family?
There are some interesting, talented and mad people related to me on both sides of the family but our historical claim to fame is through my Mam’s side.
Her mother was a Roseingrave and there are generations of musicians from that family. Thomas Roseingrave was a composer living around the same time as JS Bach and Handel.
In the early 1700s Thomas, his father and brother were organists in Christchurch and St Patrick’s Cathedral during the time Jonathan Swift was Dean. In Dublin 1742 one of them sang in the first performance of Handel’s Messiah.
At the moment foremost in my mind is our national orchestras; the musicians that make up the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra. There has been a lot of talk recently about the future of these orchestras.
If there are to be any cuts to these organisations it would be detrimental to cultural life in Ireland. These musicians have a hugely positive influence, through performance and education, on just about every young classical musician in Ireland.
It’s definitely time to give them the praise they deserve!
You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree?
Repeal the 8th!