Local composer will premiere new work to open huge Clonmel Junction Festival programme

The line up for this year’s Clonmel Junction Festival, which runs from July 5-14, was announced in glorious sunshine in Hotel Minella last week. In addition to the now customary line-up of Irish and international theatre and music, this year’s event has five feature events happening over the two weekends. Three of these are being produced by the Festival and involving members of the local artistic community working with a selection of high profile established artists.

The line up for this year’s Clonmel Junction Festival, which runs from July 5-14, was announced in glorious sunshine in Hotel Minella last week. In addition to the now customary line-up of Irish and international theatre and music, this year’s event has five feature events happening over the two weekends. Three of these are being produced by the Festival and involving members of the local artistic community working with a selection of high profile established artists.

Opening the festival on July 5 will be the Irish and European premiere of a new work by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin called Madison’s Descent. The piece was inspired by a book by US artist Page Allen of the same name and will be performed in Clonmel by Ó Súilleabháin with the Festival Choir.

This choir is made up of local singers who will be performing in the Festival for the forth year in a row. Also appearing in the concert will be the Irish soprano Claudia Boyle who is making a name for herself on the international opera circuit, conductor Fergus Sheil and Ireland’s leading saxophonist Kenneth Edge who played on the very first Riverdance show.

The following night, July 6, will be the turn of the emerging rock musicians in town to shine. Fifteen musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds, including a four piece horn section and three strings, will present “We Can Be Heroes”, a themed rock show which will be performed on a big stage in Gordon Street Car Park. The musicians are busy preparing the show with rock producer and musician Gavin Glass and will be joined by guests Paul Walsh from Royseven and Jerry Fish and other names to be announced. Also taking a turn on vocals during the evening will be Eoin Hally, Ruairi deLeastar and Kate Twohig.

The third feature event being produced by the Festival is the Banna Chluain Meala High Wire Spectacular. This event which will take place at Gas House Bridge at 7.30pm on July 13 and will feature a 60 metre high wire walk across the River Suir as the climax to a concert by Clonmel’s multi award winning marching and concert band. Circus performer Christopher Bull has promised to pay homage to the great high wire walkers of the 19th century enacting one of the time honoured high wire stunts over the River Suir.

For trad and world music lovers, the double bill concert with Frankie Gavin and De Dannan and Tunisian diva Ghalia Benali on Friday, July 12, will delight. Gavin has long been revered the world over for his fiddle playing and is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity with the reformed De Dannan. Ghalia is one of the most sought after female singers from North Africa who is renowned for her magnificent stage presence and vocal dexterity. She effortlessly blends her native traditional singing style with other genre which is sure to produce something wonderful when she joins up with Gavin and the De Dannan musicians.

For film lovers the screening of the 1920s horror classic silent movie Der Golem with live music from 3epkano and special guest vocalist Iarla Ó Lionard will be a real treat. This show which was produced for the Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2012 will be played in Old St Marys church on a big screen.

The theatre programme For Junction Festival this year has three of the finest shows ever to have played in the town. “I ♥ Alice ♥ I” by HotForTheatre and “Forgotten” by Fishamble and Pat Kinevane are two of the most sought after Irish shows which come to Clonmel after months of touring internationally. The 1927 production of “The Animals and Children took to the Streets” comes to Clonmel after sell out runs in London’s National Theatre and the Sydney Opera House.

The interactive cafés which have been a popular feature of the Festival are back this year. Maurice Caplice, who created the Sound Lab Café in 2010, is back with a new collaborator, Neil O’Dwyer, to create The Media Cave, an interactive multi media space which will host a number of installations that will evolve and change as the week goes on. Also returning for a second time are Fiona Dowling and Nina Tannis, who were the facilitators in Story House Café also in 2010. This year they will be creating The Garden Menagerie in the Paddocks at Showgrounds Shopping Centre. This space, aimed at children and families, will offer storytelling, art making and creative gardening among other activities.

For aspiring writers the Festival has devised an innovative project called 24 Little Hours. Four established writers, Grace Wells, Mark Roper, Dave Lorden and Mia Gallagher will spend 24 hours in Clonmel from 1pm on Saturday, July 6. During their stay the writers will explore the town, observing the streetscapes and searching for stories. They will also be giving a number of readings. At the end of the 24 Little Hours there will be an opportunity for the participants to share their work at the “What a Difference a Day Makes” open mic event.

The Common Thread Café will host daily talks which will be given by visiting artists or members of the local community whose work and life offer insights to the theme of this year’s Festival “The Journeys we Make”. O’Keeffes, Mulcahys and Morans have a full programme of music over the 10 days. O’Keeffes will host two top class comedy nights with the return of Neil Delamere and Foil Arms and Hog.

The full programme is online at www.junctionfestival.com

Box office opens at 28 Parnell Street on Friday 21 June.