Go Mairir i Bhfad _ Long Life to you

Zoë Conway & John Mc Intyre


Tara Music are delighted to announce the release of the first studio album as a duo of Zoë Conway and John Mc Intyre entitled, ‘Go Mairir I Bhfad_Long Life To You’.

Back in November 2010 Zoë and John commissioned twelve leading Irish composers to each compose a piece for fiddle and guitar with the aim of collectively presenting a snapshot of traditional Irish music alive today. The renowned composers who took part in the project were Liz Carroll, Steve Cooney, Frankie Gavin, Andy Irvine, Charlie Lennon, Donal Lunny, Máirtín O’Connor, Peadar Ó Riada, Mícheál Ó Súilleabhán, Tommy Peoples, Niall Vallely and Bill Whelan.

Zoe & John perform LiveWith no guidelines other than; “for fiddle and guitar, and between 3 and 6 minutes long”, the new music created for the recording is a diverse variety of pieces and styles. All composers draw from a deep knowledge of Irish traditional music, and they often show influences from other parts of the world. The collection includes familiar Irish music forms such as slow airs, jigs and reels, although forms from other traditions are also present, for instance Irvine’s, ‘Twenty Two’ which is inspired by a Bulgarian dance rhythm. Some of the new music remains firmly rooted in the tradition, with carefully crafted melodies which are proud of heritage and could have been written any time in the last 150 years, including ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy’ by Tommy Peoples and ‘Ríl Zoë’ by Peadar O Riada. Despite the influences of jazz, classical, eastern European and Latin modes and time signatures, the album plays as a complete work. Pieces follow seamlessly in a simple, uncluttered recording linked by two intimate instruments and the constant thread of Irish musical heritage.

Zoë, no stranger to the stage, has performed with an impressive list of international artists including Riverdance, Damien Rice, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Rodrigo y Gabriella. In contrast to this, Zoë has been an important figure within the more classical music circles in Ireland, as her discipline has allowed her the pleasure of appearing as soloist with acclaimed orchestras such as The Irish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra; pieces recited include works composed for her by world renowned Irish composer, Bill Whelan.

John began his career on a very different course, as electric guitarist with indie band, The Revs. Through this he has also known the privilege of performing on many famous stages and festivals across the globe. John studied classical guitar as a teenager, and has a strong background in traditional music, having spent many summers in south west Donegal.

Together, Zoë and John are a musical force to be reckoned with, and audiences in Ireland and beyond keep coming back for more.

Go Mairir i bhFad – Long Life to You Tara Music *****
"Some musicians hanker after the spotlight as much as they do the tunes. Others lure listeners to the heart of the music – and then for bonus points, urge them to seek out the source themselves. Whether it’s Glenn Gould’s incandescent reading of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Reinhardt and Grappelli’s invigorating take on European jazz and French gypsy music, or The Gloaming’s freeform interpretation of the Irish tradition, a two-way conversation is at play.
In the beautifully titled Go Mairir i bhFad - Long Life to You, their first album as a duo, fiddler Zoë Conway and her guitarist husband, John McIntyre, have spurred a dozen new musical conversations by commissioning 12 new compositions. From Peadar Ó Riada’s genteel reel Ríl Zoë to the soaring arcs of Máirtín O’Connor’s positively Grapelli-esque Trip to Gort, borders are thrashed and boundaries ignored – and all to delirious effect.
At the heart of this audacious project is Conway’s virtuoso playing. The Riverdance veteran is a musician who can readily share a stage with a string quartet, a fellow fiddler or Lou Reed. Multi-linguist that she is, Conway judges her company by its quality.
Surprises abound in this kaleidoscope of tunes. Micheál Ó Suilleabháin’s Bóthar na Sop is modest in scope but its sinuous fluidity is supremely suited to the pairing of fiddle and guitar. Andy Irvine’s Lago Puelo Jig – Twenty Two tempts Conway and McIntyre into his beloved complex Bulgarian rhythms, and, in the process, basks in the fresh-faced lightness of touch that Conway’s fiddle brings to the tune.
Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill have long spoilt us for choice with their intimate reinterpretation of traditional tunes on bare-boned fiddle and guitar. Conway and McIntyre are taking those same instruments around a series of hairpin bends, they’re acquainting us with a patchwork quilt woven from traditional, classical, jazz and Latin influences.
Gloriously cosy bedfellows they make too.
SIOBHÁN LONG - The Irish Times