The Loom – Trad Album of the Year 2017, Irish Times

Irish Traditional Fiddle – Liam O’Connor, 2017

Press release

The Loom is the much anticipated debut solo recording by renowned Dublin fiddle player Liam O’Connor. Formerly launched by fiddle player Sean Keane in Dublin in June 2017, it marks a new point of departure for one of Ireland’s great artists.

Long recognised as one of the stand-out musicians of his generation and beyond, O’Connor has produced a recording described by contemporary fiddler Ciarán Ó Maonaigh as ‘Irish traditional music played as high art’.

O’Connor’s ambition as a musician is reflected in that statement – his performances are a celebration of profoundly innovative artistic expression. While the unfettered ambition of the world’s great classical violinists nourish O’Connor’s insatiable appetite to take his music to ever higher planes, the beauty of his playing is rooted in the transmitted art of O’Connor’s inspirational predecessors – Tommie Potts, John Kelly, Joe Ryan, Bobby Casey, Sean Keane, Michael Coleman and indeed in the great transcribed bodies of collected music such as that of Canon Goodman and PW Joyce.

The record opens with one of the most widely played reels in the Irish music canon, The Tarbolton, but O’Connor’s unique setting of the tune is painted on a canvas of shimmering strings inspired by Siebelius’s Violin Concerto in D; it is a statement of O’Connor’s intent.

There are 15 outstanding tracks in all including the eponymous Tommie Potts’ hop jig, delivered in stunning fashion after Johnny Óg Connolly’s equally gorgeous composition The Buncranna Boy. O’Connor’s majestic composition, The Rights of Women, sits wonderfully after the traditional hornpipe, The Rights of Man, theme and melody weaving in sympathetic counterpoint, the former soaring to a stunning climactic point in the second part.

By contrast to the layered beauty of O’Connor’s subtle harmonic productions, the powerfully linear rendition of other classic reels such as The Repeal of the Union and O’Dowd’s are no less replete with beautiful overlapping nuance and rich embellishment; traditional Irish music as high art.

A member of the famous family of Dublin musicians, Liam’s father Mick, who performs on flute on the CD in a fitting finale, was a founding member of the Castle Céilí Band and a leading authority on the history of Irish music.

Steeped in the tradition, O’Connor learned his craft under the hand of the great Dublin musician Seamus Glackin, diligently strengthening his technical ability from a very young age and drawing strength and confidence as his command of the instrument increased.

By the time he was recognised in 2002 as the TG4 Young Traditional Musician of the Year, O’Connor’s reputation as a virtuoso player was already secured. His journey in the subsequent decade and a half has been breathtaking – the 2009 duet CD with piper Sean McKeon – Dublin Made Me – is considered a seminal recording in Irish Traditional Music. He regularly performs with great contemporary musicians such as McKeon, Noel Hill, Paddy McEvoy and John Blake – the latter duo’s deft accompaniment is a strong feature of The Loom.

Described in an Irish Echo review as a ‘mind-bogglingly good album full of wow moments from beginning to end’, it is hoped that it marks the start of a new body of recorded work by this most inspirational of Irish artists. Writing in the Irish Times, Siobhán Long gave it a five-star rating and wrote: “The possibility that we are in a golden age of traditional music, is reinforced by the release of Liam O’Connor’s exceptional solo album The Loom. O’Connor has long been a thoughtful, considered fiddle player who wears his acquaintance with the musicians who came before him with equal parts pride and subtlety.” It was voted Trad Album of the Year 2017.


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Press Release Written by Seán Potts


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