Kind Words Spoken

...a fascinating experience, the blending of early and traditional music with contemporary and jazz influences creating a fascinating re-imagined sound world for the 800 year old Latin texts. Catriona O’Leary’s haunting vocal line was atmospherically supported by a top-class trio of musicians, highly effectively conjuring up a medieval world and re-interpreting it for a modern audience. Simon Taylor, CEO, NCH

“Brilliant… 1320 meets 1960” Audience member following the first performance


The Red Book of Ossory

Dates: 09 Apr - 09 Apr

Show Time: 7:30pm

Tickets: €18-20

Fourteenth century Ireland was a time of invasions, war, lawlessness, famine and plague. A time of fear, violence and almost unimaginable mutability.

In 1317 Richard de Ledrede arrived in Kilkenny as the new Bishop of Ossory and immediately set about challenging the secular authorities and making a name for himself as a zealous moraliser and “scourge of heresy”. He was responsible for the famous witchcraft trial of Dame Alice Kyteler, composed a fantastical and nightmarish list of charges against her and others, and caused the first person in recorded history to be burned at the stake for the heresy of witchcraft; Dame Alice’s servant, Petronilla de Meath.

This is the backdrop to our story. The same fertile imagination that composed the phantasmagoric sorcery charges also composed beautiful, esoteric and richly imagistic poetry; the songs we present here. As Stanley Kubrick said when asked if his characters were good or evil, “They are good AND evil!”

The Red Book of Ossory is an important 14th century medieval manuscript from Kilkenny. Pre-eminent among the manuscript’s texts are sixty remarkable Latin poems by Bishop Richard de Ledrede. The bishop instructed that these lyrics be sung by the priests, clerks and choristers of the St Canice’s Cathedral “in order that their throats and mouths, consecrated to God, may not be polluted by songs which are lewd, secular, and associated with revelry, and, since they are trained singers, let them provide themselves with suitable tunes according to what these sets of words require”. Accordingly, I have drawn from various medieval music sources (Chansonnier du Roi, Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Codices Chantilly, Modena, Squarcialupi etc.), made speculative reconstructions of many of the Bishops hymns, and with my fellow band members have deconstructed those songs with learnèd disregard for proper chronology. – Caitríona O’Leary

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Caitríona O’Leary, voice
Deirdre O’Leary, clarinets
Nick Roth, saxophones
Matthias Loibner, hurdy-gurdy
Mel Mercier, percussion
Project management, Lundstrom Arts Management

This event is made possible thanks to a generous touring award from the Arts Council.

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