For over 20 years, the Galway Early Music Festival has brought concerts, workshops, talks, demonstrations and family events to the medieval streets and venues of Galway, filling the city with music and colour. The festival aims to bring alive the music and dance of the 12th – 17th centuries in the context of Galway’s medieval heritage through concerts given by international and national performers, and to increase awareness and interest in this music and dance among the general public, who may not be fully of aware of all of the amazing music from that era.
Past festivals have featured incredible international musicians and ensembles such as Jordi Savall, Andrew Lawrence-King and the Harp Consort and Alla Francesca, alongside outstanding Irish artists such as Siobhán Armstrong, Laoise O’Brien and Resurgam Chamber Choir.
This year’s festival – which runs from 19 to 21 May – once again features a stellar line-up of amazing talent, including the award-winning Italian ensemble Micrologus, Crux Vocal Ensemble and recorder and clarinet ensemble Temenos, who will open the festival at 1pm on Friday, 19 May with their combination of baroque and new music, Time-Travel, at the Chapel of the Poor Clare’s.
Later that day, the Crux Vocal Ensemble, accompanied by saxophonist Natalia will wow the crowds with a magical combination of early choral music and jazz improvisation. The following day is filled with free events for the whole family to enjoy. From storytelling in Charlie Byrne’s and the King’s Head to exhibitions and talks by Ancient Music Ireland at the Mechanic’s Institute, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Later that day Micrologus will get toes tapping with some 14th century Italian music.
The festival draws to a close with a medieval dance workshop and and an early Irish harp taster workshop before St Nicholas’ Church hosts the final concert at 5pm. This spectacular finale features the Athenry Horizon Orchestra, St Nicholas Choristers, The Red Earl’s Musicke and the Frenchville Brass Ensemble, all directed by The Gregory Walkers.
This unique and vibrant festival really offers visitors something different. The festival keeps some beautiful music alive by putting it into some modern context and offering festival-goers a visceral experience where they can explore and gain a new appreciation for this amazing art form. All in it’s the liveliest medieval city in Europe, on the Wild Atlantic Way.