Some programming deconstruction required, perhaps

Big fan of the John Kelly Ensemble, the National Concert Hall, and the Kaleidoscope series that I am, I am disappointed in all three at the shortage of traditional music in their programming at the moment.

Kelly mixes jazz, atmospheric rock/pop, some folk, and lots of other stuff with classical new and old, but the number of traditional tunes he plays is so low as to be undetectable in the playlists at the moment. I accept that with its fast dance rhythms a lot of traditional music isn’t right for the show, but there is plenty of slower-paced, smoother playing out there to choose from (he played the Gloaming NCH outtake for instance), not to mention the entire slow air and song strands in the music, and the many orchestral arrangements that incorporate traditional music (pre-Dennehy, who Kelly features).

The NCH has opened up more and more to other genres of music in the last few decades, and there is a good range of headliner traditional music to be heard there generally speaking, but looking at the Autumn schedule it would appear they have overlooked it entirely, or almost.

There have been a few traditional musicians invited to perform at the monthly Kaleidoscope nights, but it is revealing that as they celebrate their third birthday tonight they haven’t found room to represent that aspect of their cross-genre approach.

Revealing of what, though? I don’t think there’s grounds these days to support the case Toner Quinn made a few years back that the quality of traditional music output is partly to blame. I’m concerned that it might be more a deep-seated preconception, prejudice even, in those programming these and other serious music schedules, which they ought to examine carefully and deconstruct.


One thought on “Some programming deconstruction required, perhaps

  1. More recently John has played This is How We Fly’s debut CD a lot. A hell of a lot, and while I love it as well, I have found the repeated plays (4 tracks in a row on one occasion) is making me wonder about how he is making his playlist choices. Even more recently he got an early copy of The Gloaming’s debut, which is indeed brilliant, but again and without even a pre-listen he put it on immediately and has played numerous tracks from it since then. I am wondering, even accepting that Martin Hayes and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh are among the best musicians in the trad world these days, why is that these two groups get his attention and so many others, ploughing similar furrows, are totally overlooked/neglected/rejected, not to mention all the more straight-up Irish traditional music, Irish jazz and Irish composed music that he doesn’t play. Is it right that he can play whatever he likes? Maybe it is. Is it fair that one of the few daytime programmes in the country that concentrates on “challenging” music is so clearly biased against homegrown stuff with the exception of a few so obviously favoured “friends”. I don’t think so.

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