Opera singers show off stunning NI locations and songwriters

A stunning new series of music videos filmed in historic locations across NI is set to showcase the Province’s operatic talent as well as celebrate its songwriting talent.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 11:55 am
Filming 'Méilte Cheann Dubhrann' at Ballintoy Harbour with John Porter and Margaret Bridge

Northern Ireland Opera is to release eight new ‘Northern Songs’ films performed against the backdrop of locations including Enniskillen Castle, Marble Arch Caves, Ballintoy Harbour, the OM Dark Sky Park, Beaghmore Stone Circles, the Ulster American Folk Park, Armagh Robinson Library, the Armagh Cider Company and Belfast’s Maritime Mile.

The series of videos will launch on NI Opera’s YouTube channel with soprano Catherine Donnelly and mezzo Margaret Bridge singing ‘A River Runs Beneath Us’ by Duke Special and Andrew Doyle on the Maritime Mile and Titanic Slipways in Belfast.

Another legendary Northern Irish songwriter to have a song reworked is Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, whose rousing ballad ‘Sunrise’ is performed at Enniskillen Castle.

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Filming 'Sunrise' by Neil Hannon at Enniskillen Castle, Susie Gibbons, John Porter, Andrew Irwin, David Howes and Margaret Bridge

In all ‘Northern Songs’ will feature six opera singers – the other four performers being soprano Susie Gibbons, tenors John Porter and Andrew Irwin and bass baritone David Howes, all of whom are winners or finalists of NI Opera’s annual Glenarm Festival of Voice.

Series one of Northern Songs has been viewed widely and has been shared as part of the NI Bureau in Washington’s official St Patrick’s Day event, at the Melbourne Celtic Festival and at the recent NI Expo event for North America.

NI Opera’s Julie O’Hara said: “The Northern Songs concept was designed to show people across this island and beyond the wealth of culture, talent and world-class locations available to visit once the current public health crisis has abated and we hope those days are now much closer.”

Jo Wright, Arts Development Officer for Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “This is a truly special initiative which beautifully fuses vocal performances with scenic places across Northern Ireland. It breathes fresh life into some of our most-treasured songs, performed by some of our most talented singers and musicians.”

Naomi Waite, Tourism NI marketing director, added: “Series one has been a huge success, immersing viewers from across the world in the rich history, culture and awe-inspiring landscapes of Northern Ireland. We look forward to this next series and continued opportunities to support the arts community in Northern Ireland, like this project that truly tells the story of our giant spirit.”

The short films were directed by Marty Stalker and produced by Causeway Pictures.

• Series two of ‘Northern Songs’ starts on Thursday at 8pm