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Martin Tourish (accordion) and Triona Marshall (Irish harp)

Silenus: The Music of Cormac McDermott

Martin Tourish (accordion) and Triona Marshall (Irish harp)
Martin Tourish (accordion) and Triona Marshall (Irish harp)

Time & Location

01 Jun 2023, 13:20

St Ann's Church, 18 Dawson St, Dublin 2, D02 YV57, Ireland

About the Event

Cormac McDermott was an Irish harper who, following the collapse in 1585 of the McDermott dynasty of Moylurg, North Roscommon, emerged in the highest echelons of English power and ultimately the court of the crown itself. The Irish harp was enjoying a flowering of popularity in the English aristocracy at the time and he became the fulcrum on which it turned; performing, composing, procuring instruments and even fixing them.

The character of the blind harper was a feature of the most extravagant form of musical entertainment of the day, the Masque, and through this route, luckily for us, a small number of McDermott’s pieces survive. In one of the most famous of these, Francis Bacon’s The Masque of Flowers, the blind harper is situated in a ‘garden of a glorious and strange beauty’ in jostling spirit against the musicke of Silenius, the Greek God of musical creativity, prophetic esctasy and wine. The music composed survives in its original three to five part polyphony, allowing us a glimpse into a musical mind that captured this most sensuous and turbulent time.

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