Altan (Early Show)
ST JAMES HALL i
3214 West 10th Ave, Kitsilano
Accessible All ages
This event has already taken place.
With founding member Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh at the helm for over 35 years, Altan continues to be one of the most important live acts to play traditional Irish music in Ireland and on the World stage. Altan have toured all over North America and Europe. They also enjoy popularity in Japan where they frequently tour and have hosted Altan festivals in the middle of Tokyo to thousands of enthusiastic fans.
Altan's international status and success found a very practical recognition when they were signed in 1996 to Virgin Records, the first Irish band of their kind to be signed by a major label. The band released gold and platinum albums in that period.
In spite of a hectic touring and recording schedule, Altan continue fresh in their vision of bringing the beauty and joy of traditional music to audiences everywhere, and have always promised themselves to continue as long as it's fun - fortunately, it still is!
Altan shows no signs of slowing down. In recent years, this Donegal band has been exploring and experimenting with their music using orchestral arrangements of their most popular pieces. In fact, Altan celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a symphonic best-of album release and tour of Europe with the RTE Concert Orchestra in 2010.
The Irish Times raved about their 2012 album released on Compass Records: “Instrumentally, Altan have never sounded better or tighter. [Poison Glen] is richly layered musicianship shot through with verve.” They continued the Compass connection with 2015's The Widening Gyre.
Altan recently released their first printed collection of instrumental music, Altan: The Tunes. Spanning thirty years, twelve studio albums and comprising 222 tunes across its 206 pages, the book delves into the history, folklore and the composers and musical heroes from whom the music was collected.
After thirty years of playing on stages all over the world from Dublin to New York, Tokyo to Sydney, Altan came back to the hills of Donegal to record their new album, The Gap of Dreams. The 13 tracks transport the listener to the lifestyle of rural Donegal, to a time before electricity when folks would gather together in the mists of winter to tell stories, sing songs and dance into the wee hours of the night. The music lifted the locals’ spirits and helped elevate them beyond the hardships of the day like famine, conflict, and emigration. It is this spirit that informed the development of the band through their many phases of growth from a duo performing in pubs to international touring and recording artists.
The album title is borrowed from a poem by Francis Carlin, The Ballad of Douglas Bridge, in which he writes: “The Gap of Dreams is never shut,” referring to the gap between this world and the Otherworld. The Otherworld has always exerted a large influence on the fiddling tradition of County Donegal and has served as inspiration for song, music, and folklore. The album features many sets of traditional Donegal reels, such as Néilidh Boyle’s provocative composition, “Seán sa Cheo” (John in the Mist), as well as original compositions. Martin Tourish wrote two lively reels in the Donegal style: “Tuar,” which translates to “omen or sign,” and “Oíche Fheidhmuúil,” meaning “a spirited night.”
Singer and founding member Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh became the 2017 recipient of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil/Traditional Musician of the Year, one of Ireland’s highest musical honors, recognizing her prominent role in supporting, nurturing and strengthening Irish traditional music. One of Mairéad compositions for this album is a slip jig, which features the title track, “The Gap of Dreams,” and is followed by two more. Mairéad’s daughter Nia Byrne wrote the first titled “Nia’s Jig,” and plays fiddle on the track. Mark Kelly’s son Sam penned the second, “The Beekeeper,” (logically named because it’s in the key of B!), and plays concertina on the track. Four of the songs are in Irish (Gaelic), which is Mairéad’s first language, and the language of the northwest of Donegal.
Back in Donegal, at Attica Studios in the townland of Termon, it seemed as if the inspiration of the beloved landscape spilled into the studio. With producers Michael Kenney and Tommy McLaughlin, the new album captures the essence that has continued to represent the hallmark of Altan’s music. Release date: March 2nd.
WHAT'S BEEN SAID:
“Mairead Ni Mhaonaighs' beautiful airs had us begging for more. Every corner seemed to echo with her voice long after the music had stopped” - Evening Press, Dublin
“The hottest group in the Celtic realm these days” - The Boston Globe
“Fresh from their well-deserved win in the Roots category at last week's Hot Press Awards, Altan put on a humdinger of a show at the Olympia on Saturday night” - The Evening Herald, Dublin
“Altan's tireless touring has won them a loyal following especially in America, and helped them make impressive inroads on world music charts” - Billboard (USA)
“The appeal of Altan centres on the fact that they see no differences or divisions in music. As such, they have managed to cross the all-important cultural barriers between folk and world and rock music” - The Sunday Tribune, Dublin
“Thought by many to be the finest traditional Irish combo working today, Altan seamlessly blend dazzling instrumental prowess and the gorgeously delicate vocals of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh” - Chicago Weekly
“Altan's special strength is the clarity and coordination of its textures” - The New York Times
“Under no circumstances should they be missed in concert” - Irish Echo, New York
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Please note that the admission price for this concert includes a $2 Venue Improvement Fee that we are required by the St. James Square to collect from every patron. Starting in September 2016, the proceeds from this temporary fee will be used for construction projects such as ventilation, flooring and washrooms that will make the hall a nicer place for you to visit in the future. If you wish, you can make a secure donation by clicking on the big blue button at the bottom of the page at www.sjcommunitysquare.org. For information on donating by phone or post, please contact the St. James Square office at 604-739-9373.