Kilkenny Arts Festival have announced that acclaimed concertina player Cormac Begley will headline at the festival for the first time on Saturday 12 August at 8pm.
Making a welcome return to the Marble City, Cormac will be joined by Liam O’Connor and other guests yet to be announced for a performance in St Canice’s Cathedral.
Begley hails from west Kerry where his family’s roots are firmly cemented in traditional music. He plays thirteen concertinas that range from bass to piccolo register. Cormac’s daring and soul-stirring approach to the playing of the concertina has opened up the instrument to a broader audience; garnering attention from renowned choreographer and director Michael Keegan Dolan.
Dolan’s award-winning, sell-out show ‘Mám heavily features Cormac’s playing and music and led to a documentary film based on the show, The Dance directed by Pat Collins which was nominated for an IFTA in 2022. Cormac has collaborated with several artists, including Lankum, Ye Vagabonds, Stephen James Smith and Lisa O’Neill and has toured extensively with Lisa O’Neill, Liam O’Connor, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Rushad Eggleston, Ye Vagabonds and Martin Hayes.
Cormac’s career has gone from strength to strength over the past year; selling out Vicar Street, winning Best Folk Instrumentalist 2022 at the RTÉ Folk Awards and Irish Times Album of the Year 2022, with his second solo album B. The album B celebrates the bass concertina, a very rare instrument and on this album, Cormac uses two Dipper-made bass concertinas to record all 12 tracks. His bold choice to concentrate solely on the bass and baritone register, the first album of its kind in any musical genre, has not gone unnoticed for all the right reasons and it has been described as “album of the decade” by Donal Dineen and “the musical gift that keeps on giving” by The Irish Times. The album and tracks from the album were nominated over three categories at the RTE Folk Awards 2022 for Best Folk Album, Best Original Folk Track, and Best Folk Track.
Kilkenny Arts Festival runs from 10-20 August 2023 and this year celebrates 50 years of dreams and discoveries in Ireland’s Medieval City. Booking is available online now at kilkennyarts.ie.