The Take

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - PATRICK FREYNE - COR­MAC LARKIN

Our crit­ics’ se­lec­tion of the best live events

The cello makes a bid for artis­tic free­dom next week­end with the sec­ond edi­tion of Spike – Dublin’s al­ter­na­tive cello fes­ti­val. Time was, to hear this beau­ti­ful in­stru­ment you had to brush your hair, put on clean clothes and sit faced for­ward in a con­cert hall, but in­creas­ingly the vi­o­lon­cello – to give it its full ti­tle - is find­ing its way into other mu­si­cal spa­ces and about time too.

This year, the genre-blind Spike fes­ti­val is oc­cu­py­ing the rock’n’roll bas­tion of the Work­man’s Club for the week­end, with out­ly­ing skir­mishes tak­ing place at the Hugh Lane gallery and else­where.

“It’s a more re­laxed, in­ter­ac­tive en­vi­ron­ment”, says cel­list Lioba Petrie of the fes­ti­val at­mos­phere. “Peo­ple are sur­prised if they haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced that be­fore. You can sit there lis­ten­ing to some­one play the cello with a pint in your hand!”

Petrie, a re­spected free­lance cel­list who per­forms with Dublin post-rock­ers 3ep­kano, pro­grammes the fes­ti­val with fel­low cel­list, song­writer Mary Barne­cutt of Mary & the Pi­geons.

“What we re­ally like,” says Petrie, “is that this kind of en­vi­ron­ment brings the au­di­ence phys­i­cally closer to the per­form­ers, so you’re break­ing down that au­di­ence to per­former bar­rier”.

As well as a raft of con­certs that will chal­lenge cello or­tho­doxy, the fes­ti­val in­cludes a work­shop for young cel­lists, a con­cert for chil­dren and even a yoga ses­sion.

The week­end opens on Fri­day evening with UK-based cel­list Laura Moody who con­jures mu­sic of star­tling orig­i­nal­ity and drama with just an acous­tic in­stru­ment and her voice, with an open­ing per­for­mance from Petrie her­self pre­sent­ing a new live film score. Nashville-born cel­list Zan Berry, who has worked with the New York avant-gardists Bang on a Can, leads an im­pro­vi­sa­tion work­shop for young mu­si­cians at the Work­man’s on Satur­day lunchtime. Berry uses Cre­ative Abil­ity De­vel­op­ment, a teach­ing sys­tem that helps clas­si­cally trained mu­si­cians over­come their fear of open spa­ces – that is, the space that opens up when there are no sheets of mu­sic in front of them – and par­tic­i­pants will get a chance to per­form some of the mu­sic de­vel­oped dur­ing the work­shop. Berry is then joined by Gal­way­born, Florence-based cel­list and song­writer Naomi Ber­rill (be­low left)– who has just re­leased her ex­cel­lent sec­ond al­bum To the Sky – for an all-ages show on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Satur­day night’s head­liner is ac­claimed US/Al­ba­nian cel­list Ru­bin Kod­heli, a mu­si­cal icon­o­clast who has col­lab­o­rated with ev­ery­one from No­rah Jones to Wadada Leo Smith: with drum­mer Gar­rett Brown, Kod­heli will lead Blues in Space into avant rock ter­ri­tory, play­ing his stand-up elec­tric cello; then he takes up the acous­tic ver­sion to be joined by fel­low cel­lists (fel­lists?) Kate El­lis, Laura Moody and Ben Cashell in a per­for­mance of Kod­heli’s own cello quar­tet mu­sic.

Sun­day’s lunchtime con­cert at the Hugh Lane gallery fea­tures Royal Academy cello pro­fes­sor Wil­liam Butt per­form­ing con­tem­po­rary works for cello and elec­tron­ics by Roger Smal­ley and Linda Buck­ley, fol­lowed by Cellinstal­la­tion, eight cel­lists im­pro­vis­ing in the gallery foyer through­out the af­ter­noon. Also on Sun­day is Yo­cella, a yoga ses­sion with live cello ac­com­pa­ni­ment which was one of the un­ex­pected high­lights of last year’s fes­ti­val, at St Kevin’s Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, Por­to­bello.

Sun­day night’s fi­nale at the Work­man’s is Cello Voce, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Cello Ire­land quar­tet, five Ir­ish cello-song­writ­ers - Vyvi­enne Long, Mary Barne­cutt, Aleka Potenga, Kevin Mur­phy and Anna-Mieke Bishop - and singer Liam Ó Maon­laí, which draws on many sources, in­clud­ing the Ir­ish tra­di­tion.

In a mu­sic scene where many, not least those in the so-called ‘clas­si­cal’ world, still man the genre bar­ri­cades, Spike is an act of open re­bel­lion and a per­fect way to dip your toes in the cleans­ing wa­ters of the avant garde.

Full de­tails at spike­cellofest.com,

UK-based cel­list Laura Moody: ‘mu­sic of star­tling orig­i­nal­ity and drama’

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