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Martin Hayes to judge RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta fiddle competition 3000 miles away

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will be taking full advantage of the benefits of modern communications technology on Friday to allow musician Martin Hayes to judge a traditional fiddle competition from New York, although the competition will be taking place 3000 miles away in Cork.  15  fiddlers will take to the stage in the Rochestown Park Hotel on Friday for the final of the competition hoping to win a gold medal and the €5000 prize money, and they will be judged by 3 musicians of international renown - Martin Hayes, legendary Clare fiddler who will judge the competition via Skype from New York, together with Seán Keane of The Chieftains, and Liam O’ Connor, TG4 Young Musician of the Year 2002, who will both be at the concert in Cork.

The competition was inaugurated by Peadar Ó Riada on his Raidió na Gaeltachta traditional music programme Cuireadh chun Ceoil in 2010 and there were over 60 entrants including musicians from France, Canada, Russia, Australia, USA, Ireland and the UK, and the 15 finalists who will be on stage on Friday will include three fiddlers from America, one from London, and Ivan Roberts, an Australian who flew in from Sydney this week to take part.
Speaking about the competition, Roberts said:
‘I originally studied classical violin, but was converted to traditional music about 10 years ago, and I now run a regular session in Sydney.  I was shocked to hear my name in the list of finalists, and I am really delighted to be here.  It’s truly an honour to have the chance to perform in the concert for judges of the calibre of Martin Hayes, Seán Keane and Liam O’Connor.’

The winner of the competition will receive the unique Bonn Óir Sheáin Uí Riada gold medal, which has been specially designed by Cashel goldsmith Pádraig Ó Mathúna, as well as €5000 prize money.  Ó Mathúna took almost 4 months to design the medal, which is engraved on one side with a portrait of Seán Ó Riada and features a design on the other side inspired by Dán Aimhirgín – Song of Amergin – uttered by the Milesian druid Amergin as he first set foot on Irish soil.  This side of the medal is done in the La Tene style to indicate rhythms of music, using repoussé technique.  The medal consists of 2 silver plates back to back, and following the competition on Friday Pádraig will engrave the winners name and the year into the medal, and it will then be coated in gold.

The idea for the competition came originally from Peadar Ó Riada’s father, composer and musician Seán Ó Riada,  who had a competition on his radio programme Fleadh Cheoil an Raidió on Radio Éireann in the sixties.  Inspired by this idea, Peadar also saw the competition as an opportunity to leverage the advances in technology to bring the worldwide family of traditional Gaelic music together.  He saw that  increased access to computers and improving mobile phone technology would allow musicians to record their music and submit them via the web from all over the world, which they did.

Speaking about the competition, judge Liam O’ Connor said:
‘Although there were entrants from all over the world for the competition, we were never made aware of the competitors names or where they came from, and so we judged the competition purely on the recordings that were sent in.  Even to cut it down from the original 60 or so entrants, to the 15 who will be on stage in Cork was very difficult.  There was a great variety of regional styles evident in the music submitted, and some of the musicians’ own personalities really came through in their music.  I’m looking forward to a great night of music on Friday.’

The competition will be presented by Peadar Ó Riada live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta on Friday 7 January at 7.00 pm.

Permalink - Posted: January 6, 2011 at 5:07 pm