Programme 1: Paddy Glackin and Liam O'Flynn
One of Ireland's leading traditional fiddle players Paddy Glackin is a Dublin man proud of his strong links to County Donegal. His father, Tom Glackin was a notable fiddle player and instilled in Paddy a deep interest and love of the music of his native county-Donegal. It was on a trip to Donegal as a boy alongside his father, the noted music collector Breandan Breathnach and Clare fiddle player John Kelly that Paddy first encountered the music and sparkling personalities of two of the legendary figures of Irish fiddle music the travelling tinsmiths, John and Mickey Doherty. There music was to have a lasting impact on the young musician. Paddy attended classical music lessons in Chatham Row in Dublin and developed a formidable technique still evident in his bowing. Music was played in the family home and Frank O'Higgins and Tommy Potts were not infrequent visitors. Paddy's younger brothers Seamus and Kevin are highly regarded fiddle players in their own right.
In the mid 1970's Paddy recorded and played with Ceoltoiri Laighean and shortly after was to record the first of his solo albums for the Gael Linn label. His eponymous debut album is still regarded as a classic. Paddy was to record duet albums with the uilleann piper Paddy Keenan and Dublin keyboard experimentalist Jolyn Jackson-both on the Tara label. He was invited to be the first fiddle player in seminal traditional music group The Bothy Band and spent 18 months with what was to be one of the most influential and popular of the great Irish bands of the 1970's. Their legacy is still to be felt today. While with the Bothy Band Paddy cemented his close relationship with guitarist and singer Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and in more recent times Paddy and Mícheál were to tour extensively together. Before his untimely accidental death in July 2006 Mícheál Ó Domhnaill recorded the Athchuairt album with Paddy and it was released on the Gael Linn label. Another relationship from Bothy Band days was his friendship with bouzouki maestro Donal Lunny and this found musical expression with the release of their album together In Full Spate.
A noted commentator and lecturer on Irish music Paddy is also in demand as a session player. He is as comfortable playing the music of John Cage as he is sitting down to play tunes with piper Liam O'Flynn. Paddy is a senior producer in RTÉ Radio.
Master uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn from County Kildare in Ireland was born into a musical family. His father was a local schoolmaster and fiddle player and his mother played and taught piano. Liam's mother was from the famous Crehan family of west Clare and Liam was to spend much time in that most musical of Ireland's western counties listening, learning and playing music.
Beginning on the tin whistle and following a short spell "scraping" at the fiddle Liam finally got started on the uilleann pipes. Local piper Tom Armstrong was one of his early mentors. At the age of eleven Liam began piping classes with Leo Rowsome. As a young man Liam encountered two other giants of Irish piping and absorbed much from them-Seamus Ennis and Willies Clancy. His subsequent close friendship with master piper Seamus Ennis taught Liam that there was more to being a piper than simply playing tunes. "Seamus Ennis gave me much more than a bag of notes".
In his teens Liam frequented music sessions in the nearby Kildare village of Prosperous and forged an alliance with Donal Lunny, Christy Moore and Andy Irvine that later developed into the nucleus of the band Planxty. One of Ireland's most legendary bands Planxty were innovative and hugely influential achieving massive popular success in Ireland and abroad in the 1970s.
Liam has recorded and performed with a range of international musicians as diverse as Van Morrison, Kate Bush, John Cage, The Everly Brothers, Carlos Nunez and Mark Knopfler, with whom he collaborated with on the soundtrack for the film "Cal". Other soundtrack work includes The Field, A River Runs Through It (with Elmer Bernstein), Kidnapped, and Roses from Dublin (with Vladimir Cosma). No stranger to playing with orchestras, Liam had already achieved an international audience when he recorded The Brendan Voyage with Shaun Davey, a groundbreaking orchestral piece which was followed in later years by three other Shaun Davey works, Granuaile, The Relief of Derry Symphony and more recently The Pilgrim. He had successfully brought the pipes into the greatest concert halls in the world and introduced its unique sounds to audiences and musicians everywhere.
Other regular collaborators include Catherine Ennis, daughter of Seamus Ennis and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney with whom Liam has recently recorded "The Poet and the Piper" cd which has been afforded great critical acclaim. Heaney says of the experience, " I have a strong sense of pleasure and pride in sitting beside a piper of Liam's mystery. The pipes call and raise the spirit. They also quieten and open up the daydream part of people."
For Liam too, playing the pipes is a very special experience. "When I'm playing," he says, "I'm certainly lost within it. The only way to describe it, is that it's like looking inwards. I think when a performer engages with the audience, and vice versa, it's like a spell is cast and a terrific passage of feelings moves from the musician to the audience and back again."
Liam O'Flynn has made over fifty recordings. Among his most recent albums are Out To An Other Side, The Given Note and, most recently, The Piper's Call. With the formation of The Pipers Call Band, a special video was made with guest appearances by Carlos Núńez, The Irish Chamber Orchestra, Sean Keane and Matt Molloy of The Chieftains and Mark Knopfler. The Band features top musicians like Arty McGlynn, Rod McVey and Steve Cooney.
In 1999, Liam was at the heart of a very unique performance at London's Royal Albert Hall. For the very first time there was a special evening devoted to Irish music as part of the BBC Proms and it was Liam and the Piper's Call Band who were chosen for this quite momentous event. They were, as ever, rapturously received. But whatever the arena, Liam O'Flynn remains a gentle and modest soul. Whatever the occasion, a 'session' in Prosperous or the inauguration of a President, his mind is focused on just one thing. "You're after something in the tune," he says, "and, at the end of the day, you are just the servant of the music."
In 2000 Liam was awarded the Gold Insignia of the University of La Coruna, in Galicia, Spain, for his contribution to the Arts. He was honoured to be asked to compose and perform music for the inauguration of President Mary McAleese of Ireland. He has since accompanied The President on a number of state visits abroad. Liam has toured and performed with a wide range of orchestras in Ireland, Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Romania, Hungary and Germany. He is in much demand as a soloist and tours regularly with his own "Pipers Call Band".
In April 2007 Liam O'Flynn was honoured with the award of Traditional Musician of the Year from TG4.