Arts News – Rave New York review for Julie Feeney
SINGER, songwriter, musician, composer and performer Julie Feeney had a ten-night run of concerts at the Irish Arts Centre in New York last week which were a huge success.
Julie, whose family home is between Athenry and Tuam, got a rave review from Jon Pareles of the New York Times, part of which ran as follows:
“Theatrical on the Shell, Intricate at the Core”
“A brainy, adventurous Irish songwriter lives within the flamboyant theatricality of Julie Feeney, who’s playing a 10-night stand at the Irish Arts Center through May 6.
“On Thursday night, she was costumed in sparkly red high heels, white tights, a tentlike black minidress and shiny foot-high headpieces (changed mid-show). But the Gaga appearance didn’t carry over into her music, which is intricate, articulate and closer to concert halls than dance clubs. Ms Feeney’s songs don’t shout. They tease, ponder, reminisce, philosophise and invent parables, and she sings them in a plush, changeable mezzo-soprano that usually holds a kindly twinkle. She is well known in Ireland, where her 2005 debut album, 13 Songs, won the Choice Music Prize as the year’s best album. The 99-seat Irish Arts Center is a tiny room for her.
“Ms Feeney has master’s degrees in psychoanalysis, sonology (the study of sound) and music and media technologies — all the better for songs that set character studies and philosophical musings in elaborate musical confections, often with long, internally rhymed lines. ‘Thank you for the dreams but wait a little if you please/I just need a little ease to crack a puzzle in my heart,’ she sang in a new song, Happy Ever After, tightly harmonising each crisp syllable with a backup singer, Jennifer Marshall, while they clowned together as well.
“Ms Feeney’s music draws on sources across centuries. Her ensemble, including strings, trumpet and sometimes a recorder, often sounds like a Baroque consort, spinning contrapuntal arpeggios; it also hints at folk-pop, Minimalism and the metrical gamesmanship of progressive rock. One More Tune used syncopated handclaps reminiscent of Steve Reich and a trumpet line hinting at a village brass band, while a new song, If I Lose You Tonight, which she sang accompanied only by a few notes from a mandolin, had the melodic purity of a traditional Irish ballad. Her best-known song, Impossibly Beautiful from 2009, could almost be a pop motet, with vocal harmonies from her band members.
“Ms Feeney’s Irish Arts Center performance blurs chamber concert and theatre piece (directed by Ms Feeney and Vallejo Gantner). She and her group perform on a stage with Google Earth backdrops of her hometown in Ireland; groups of songs explore love, memories, imagined lives and more love. The set mixes songs from her two albums — Pages was released in 2009 — and most of the material from her next one, which moves toward pop concision in songs like Julia and Imperfect Love.
“Ms Feeney worked the stage and the room, visiting audience members to whisper individual bits of gossip in Myth and transforming her face from otherworldly composure to private mourning to nutty intensity, song by song. But the showmanship was a bonus; her songs easily stood on their own.”
Auditions for The Mai
GALWAY-based theatre company Mephisto are holding auditions for their summer production of The Mai by Marina Carr next week.
The Mai is a play that centres on four generations of women from the same family who struggle to come to terms with effects of their love and how it can be damaged but remain true.
The play will be staged this August on the main stage of the Town Hall Theatre. Along with financial support from the Town Hall Theatre, Mephisto are currently running an online campaign with the crowd funding site fundit.ie which ends on May 25.
Male actors with a playing age of 35 to 45 are required along with a range of female actors with playing ages of 16 to 100. Interested actors should send a CV along with a headshot or recent photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 087 672 89 30.
Auditions will be held the week beginning May 14.
Pat Sheeran schol in Film Studies
THE Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway has launched the Pat Sheeran MA in Film Studies Scholarship.
All students applying to the MA in Film Studies programme in the coming year will be considered for this scholarship, valued at €2,000, based on their application and supporting documentation.
The scholarship has been established to mark the substantial contribution of the late Professor Sheeran to the development of Film Studies in NUI Galway and the establishment of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media.
A vital and inspirational member of the English department, Professor Sheeran’s publications included a seminal study of the John Ford classic The Informer (1935), published by Cork University Press shortly after his untimely passing in 2001.