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By Charles Leslie
Special to Pagosa Springs SUN Online
Masters of Tradition, made up of seven of the most compelling artists in Irish music today, will take the stage at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, Wednesday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m.
Masters of Tradition is revered for creating a unique show celebrating the art form that is traditional Irish music. A concert performance combines solos, duets, trios and full ensemble with uilleann pipes, fiddles, guitars, accordion and sean nós song. The touring group is based on the Masters of Tradition Festival that takes place annually in Bantry, West Cork, Ireland.
Founded by renowned fiddler Martin Hayes, Masters of Tradition includes vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler Cathal Hayden, guitarists Dennis Cahill and Seamie O’Dowd, Máirtín O’Connor on accordion and uilleann piper David Power. All are musicians chosen for the original contributions they’ve made to Irish music.
The original intention of the Masters of Tradition Festival, developed by Hayes in collaboration with West Cork Music, was to present traditional Irish music in small configurations (solos, duets and trios) in venues normally associated with chamber music: the wood-paneled library of the beautiful Georgian mansion Bantry House, and the intimate sanctuary of St. Brendan’s Church in Bantry’s main square. The goal was to create a true listening experience so that the depth of the music could be explored and shared with discerning audiences.
The success of the festival, however, was not to be contained in Ireland. In 2009, the Sydney International Festival invited Hayes to create a touring version of Masters of Tradition to perform at the Sydney Opera House. The 3,000-seat Opera House quickly sold out for the two-night engagement, and the performances captivated the audience.
In April 2012, Masters of Tradition made its American debut, performing to enthusiastic audiences in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Olympia (Wash.), and Denver. In 2013, the ensemble opened its tour at the Bass Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Texas-Austin, went on to perform in upstate New York at Hamilton College and in Chicago, Northern California and the Bay Area, and Seattle. With the success of 2012 and 2013 behind them, this remarkable lineup of Irish musicians is touring America in March and April, 2014.
Hayes noted that, though the venues have grown, the original focus of Masters of Tradition remains: “One of the things I want people to experience is a sense of the bedrock of the music. In its purest form, Irish traditional music speaks a universal language.”
“This magnificent seven [bears] out the underlying treatise that Martin Hayes operates under,” wrote The Irish Voice, “that traditional music is the equal of any other form, and can strike and capture the hearts of music fans anywhere and at any time.”
View videos of Masters of Tradition live in concert at www.rotharts.com/masters-of-tradition.
Tickets for Masters of Tradition ($24/$34) are available online at www.durangoconcerts.com by calling 247-7657, or visit the ticket office inside the Durango Welcome Center at 8th St. and Main Ave., downtown Durango.