The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at University of Limerick in partnership with Limerick City and County Council and Creative Ireland is hosting the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (virtually) this week.
The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (NAFCo) is a cultural exchange and meeting place for artists, academics, and enthusiasts. It takes place from 23-27 June 2021.
At its heart is a convention that brings together scholars, practitioners, teachers and other stakeholders to share ideas, practices, research and knowledge about the field of fiddle performance and related dance, from the cultures and diaspora of the North Atlantic region.
Uniquely structured, NAFCo combines a festival with an academic conference, featuring interactive workshops, concerts, interviews, public lectures, academic papers, and more. The showcase of fiddling and dancing was started by Aberdeen University’s Elphinstone Institute in 2011 and has subsequently grown in size to include events in Canada and Scotland.
Among this year’s line-up is Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens and renowned English folk group, The Unthanks. The Unthanks - the surname of siblings Rachel and Becky - present a dynamic mix of old and new, trafficking in elements of traditional Northumbrian folk music, classical, jazz, and pop.
Giddens is an extraordinary American musician, who is a doyenne of the international folk scene won ‘Best Traditional Folk Album’ as part of the groundbreaking ensemble, Carolina Chocolate Drops, at the 2011 Grammys. She continues to have huge success in her more recent solo endeavours winning ‘Best Album of the Year’ at the International Folk Music Festival in 2016 and 2018, while also winning BBC 2 Folk Singer of the Year in 2016.
This year will also feature the acclaimed group The Provenance. Led by Frankie Gavin, The Provenance comprises Sorcha Costello, Eadaoin Ni Mhaicin and Ciara O’Brien, three powerful, highly experienced fiddle players and stars in their own right. They have won numerous awards and All-Ireland competitions, and toured the world both in a solo capacity and in a range of groups and orchestras.
NAFCo 2021 will also feature performances by acclaimed artist and musicians including Paddy Glackin (Ireland), Sven Ahlbäck (Sweden), John Carty (Ireland), and many more.
Festival Director Dr Niall Keegan said: “I am delighted to facilitate this year’s event with its focus on the fiddle traditions of the Ireland and our nearby cousins. We are bringing this virtually to the world. Of course, we still miss the opportunity to meet in person but we will continue to show the value of music and place in the new digital spaces we have lived in for the past fifteen months.”
“NAFCo presents a wealth of talent from both sides of the Atlantic including Frankie Gavin, The Unthanks, Paddy Glackin, Sven Ahlbäck, Rhiannon Giddens and John Carty among many, many more.”
Dr Pippa Little, Culture and Arts Officer and Creative Ireland Programme Co-ordinator, Limerick City and County Council said: “We look forward to this celebration of the fiddle tradition and to developing knowledge and understanding nationally and internationally through this convention, held here digitally in Limerick. For music lovers there are on-line performances and educational materials are available for our schools.”
Dr Sandra Joyce, Director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance said: “NAFCo is a unique experience, and is presented in a distinctive way this year, reflecting our changed circumstances due to the pandemic. A wealth of academic discourse, performances, workshops and more awaits participants, centred on the fiddle and related areas, such as song and dance. We look forward to welcoming the world, virtually, to Limerick for NAFCo 2021!”
This special event is a partnership between the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, Creative Ireland and Limerick City and County Council.