Press Releases

World premiere for New Oratorio on RTÉ RnaG on Christmas Day

19 December 2012: Oratóir na Nollag - Ceol ar snámh ón spéir anuas, a new oratorio composed by Colm Ó Foghlú, will have its world premiere on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta on Christmas day at 7pm.

The first Christmas Oratorio written in the Irish language, Oratóir na Nollag fuses traditional music idioms and singing styles with more conventional orchestration, reflecting Ireland’s diverse musical heritage.

Composer Colm Ó Foghlú cites Eoghan Ó Tuairisc’s poem Oíche Nollag as being a major influence on the work. In it, the poet states ‘if I had a melodeon, Christ would not be without music this night’...and continues ‘that the likes of the music would never have been heard even from the piper of the sidhe ... music that would make the stars dance in the heavens’.

The oratorio features renowned musicians and singers Lynn Hilary (Soprano), Niamh Ní Charra (concertina), Noreen O’Donoghue (Irish harp), Aoife Ní Bhriain (fiddle), New Dublin Voices (choir) accompanied by The Orchestra of Ireland (Ceolfhoireann na hÉireann) led by Fionnuala Hunt. The work is orchestrated and conducted by Liam Bates and recorded and mixed by Brian Masterson.

Ó Foghlú says of the work:
‘The unique musicality and sensitivity of Niamh Ní Charra’s concertina playing lend a uniquely Irish, and a haunting universality, to the score. In the Irish tradition, the harp would have accompanied the file or poet, and in Oratóir na Nollag it’s used in much the same way here to underscore the sung-speech of the recitatives. Harpist Noreen O’Donoghue uses both ancient and modern techniques, combined to magical effect. Lynn Hilary, the solo soprano, succeeds in moving effortlessly from the colours of Gregorian chant to the nuances of traditional Irish song, without being restricted by either genre but rather harnessing their best features and creating a new musical idiom. Ó Tuairisc also references two of the three principal forms of music in Irish mythology: geantraí (joyous music) and suantraí (lullabies/soothing music for sleep) both of which are exemplified by Aoife Ní Bhriain’s virtuosity on the fiddle.’

Then, on 26 Dec at 5.04pm listeners can tune in to hear a documentary about the making of Oratóir na Nollag. In it, listeners will learn about the creation of, and inspiration for, this new oratorio from the perspective of the performers and the composer. The programme will give them an opportunity to get to know the key participants and their craft, in their creative environment. It will also give a broader social context to the work, the lives and the people who shaped and inspired the musicians, composers and singers involved.

Composer Colm Ó Foghlú is originally from Dublin, and studied composition under renowned musician Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin in UCC. He is best known for composing and directing shows such as dance-theatre show Gaelforce Dance that toured throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and North America reaching a total audience of 4 million people in venues such as The Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall. Other scores include Celtic Dawn: a Fiddle Concerto for Mairéad Nesbitt & The Berne Symphony Orchestra, Irish Thunder & Celtic Fire (Busch Gardens), and the soundtrack for The Land of Sex and Sinners (Australian Film Board/Tg4). In 2011, Colm was mentor, vocal arranger and music producer on Pitch Perfect on TG4.

Oratóir na Nollag – Ceol ar snámh ón spéir anuas will be broadcast on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Tues 25 Dec 7.00 pm. The ‘making of’ documentary Oratóir na Nollag – Léargas ar an gclár will be broadcast on 26 December 5.04 pm.

These programmes were funded by the BAI Sound and Vision scheme, and Foras na Gaeilge