As the days lengthen towards summer, thoughts turn to holidays in the sun and—inevitably for some of us—music festivals. Next weekend sees the first of these, with events across the country, including two that continue to grow from strength to strength: Birr Festival of Music, and the Sligo International Chamber Music Festival

Birr Festival of Music

The Crash Ensemble opens the festival on Friday 3 May with a concert of pieces by contemporary Irish composers Amy Rooney, Barry O’Halpin, Grainne Mulvey, Sam Perkin, Judith Ring and Brian Bolger (including the world premiere of Judith Ring’s Upbeat Furore), as well as Gyorgy Ligeti. Saturday lunchtime sees a recital by baritone Kevin Neville and pianist Niall Kinsella, followed that evening by the Studio Artists of Irish National Opera—Rachel Croash, Andrew Gavin, and Plec Picks Amy Ní Fhearraigh and Robert McAllister—together in concert. The highlight of the weekend is the annual Trench Award Gala Concert on Sunday 5 May.  Set up in 2014, the Trench Award is for young emerging professional musicians from the Midlands region, worth over €7,000. This year’s six finalists are sopranos Leah Redmond (soprano), and Breffni Fitzpatrick (soprano), pianists Aidan Chan (piano) and Brian Flanagan (piano), and baritones Matthew Mannion (baritone), Dylan Rooney (baritone).

Tickets are on sale now from or call Box Office (057) 91 22911


Sligo International Chamber Music Festival

Marking its 20th anniversary, this year’s Sligo International Chamber Music Festival boasts an exciting line up of Irish and international guest artists including the Grieg Trio, Eugène Mursky (piano); David Orlowsky (clarinet); Michael McHale (piano); Dermot Dunne (accordion); Sharon Carty (mezzo-soprano); Vashti Hunter (cello); Malachy Robinson (double bass); Bruno Schneider (French horn); Henrik Rabien (bassoon) and Nick Roth (composer, saxophone, producer). These performers, along with host ensemble the Vogler Quartet, perform a rich programme of chamber music concerts across four days in both Drumcliffe Church and The Model, Sligo, aiming to offer “something for everyone from music lovers and enthusiasts to the novice and the curious.”

With funding from Sligo County Council’s Creative Ireland Programme 2018-2022, Monday 6 May sees the premiere of Nick Roth’s Second Quintet for Accordion and String Quartet—commissioned by the Festival—performed by Dermot Dunne (accordion) and the Vogler Quartet, while on Saturday 4 May poet Gerard Smyth curates ‘His Deep Gaze’, an event bringing together music, poetry and art, to honour the late artist Seán McSweeney.

For further details, see:


Sharon Carty


Michael McHale