Lúnasa's First Recording in Three Years Out on April 16th
Ireland's premier acoustic band Lúnasa is releasing their first new recording in three years on April 16, the much-anticipated new album, LÚNASA WITH THE RTÉ CONCERT ORCHESTRA, on Lúnasa Records via City Hall Distributors (in the U.S.). LÚNASA WITH THE RTÉ CONCERT ORCHESTRA is a musical collaboration that marks a true first for the all-star Irish traditional band and the world-renowned national orchestra of Ireland. It is also available digitally from iTunes and other digital outlets.
The CD release comes on the heels of a month-long U.S. concert tour that just wrapped up in the Midwest. Among the highlights of the tour were appearances at the Rubenstein Atrium of New York's famed Lincoln Center on March 7 and on the nationally-syndicated Mountain Stage with Larry Groce radio broadcast, which was recorded at the Paramount Theatre for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee and will air nationally on some 100 NPR stations across the U.S. and overseas via the Voice of America satellite service during the week following May 3 (check www.mountainstage.org for local listings). Mountain Stage, known for featuring both established and emerging American and international artists, is the longest running show of its kind on public radio. Also, their appearance at the Sellersville Theatre outside of Philadelphia was filmed for the On Canvas television program on PBS' WHYY-TV for broadcast in late May.
Since coming together in 1996, Lúnasa has performed over 1500 concerts and achieved a worldwide reputation as a different kind of Irish traditional music band. The all-instrumental quintet is noted for double bass and guitar-driven rhythms, original compositions mixed with material from Celtic regions such as Brittany, Galicia and Asturias and a surprising focus on slower melodies involving three-part harmonies played on the traditional pipes, fiddle and flute.
Expect LÚNASA WITH THE RTÉ CONCERT ORCHESTRA, the band's ninth album release, to reconfigure more than a few musical maps via the intersection between Irish music orchestral and Irish music traditional. The album began when RTÉ approached Niall Vallely, one of Ireland's most talented emerging composers and arrangers and brother of Lúnasa's Cillian Vallely, with the idea of creating arrangements and working with a traditional band. Niall suggested Lúnasa for the project, and the result is a magical union of Ireland's top traditional band and Ireland's national orchestra to create a very new sound in Irish music. Their first joint effort was a sold-out performance at Dublin's National Concert Hall on June 19, 2012 that was later broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 and followed by the recording of the album. The RTÉ Concert Orchestra, whose credits include projects with talents as diverse as Luciano Pavarotti and Cleo Laine and Ireland's Sharon Shannon, Sinéad O'Connor, Imelda May and The Coronas, is conducted by David Brophy.
"From 'Buachaillín Bán,' 'Scully's' and 'The Dusty Miller' to the medley of 'The Minor Bee' set onto old favorites like 'Morning Nightcap' and 'The Last Pint,' what an amazing buzz it's been playing our music among the orchestral wall of sound," explains Lúnasa flautist Kevin Crawford. "A number of the pieces had been banished to the wilderness, destined never to see the light of a Lúnasa day ever again. Getting the opportunity to dust them down and hear them in a totally new environment gave the tunes a whole new lease of life and reawakened our love and respect for them. It's an experience that I certainly never thought I'd encounter as a traditional Irish musician."
Lúnasa, comprised of Crawford, Seán Smyth (fiddle and low whistles), Trevor Hutchinson (double bass), Cillian Vallely (uilleann pipes and low whistles) and newest member Ed Boyd (guitar), loves American audiences, and American audiences love Lúnasa. Since their first U.S. tour 16 years ago, the band has criss-crossed the country, playing intimate clubs, concert halls and prestigious venues like the Hollywood Bowl. "The audiences in America bring a great energy and goodwill to the table," explains Smyth. "Often, I think it's because the Irish have a history of good standing and respect in America, and Lúnasa are benefitting in a way from this famous historical connection."
Whatever the reason, it's a tradition that will continue into 2013 with the release of this groundbreaking new CD. Lúnasa will return to the U.S. for additional shows at the end of the year.