Clonmel Junction Festival Interview: “Something completely different.”

clonmel music junction

Clonmel Junction Festival 2017 takes places from 03-09 July.

This is pretty special. The Clonmel Junction Festival could be the most diverse and innovative festival in Ireland. Based on the theme of the ‘Black Sheep’, this year’s festival will include a wealth of musical talent culminating in The Cave, three intimate music events in Mitchelstown Cave on July 7,8, and 9. Peter Broderick, Loah, Jesca Hoop, Rosie Carney, Marc O’Reilly and Brigid Mae Power are those performing. Not only that, there’s an Artist-in-Residency programme, a 12-foot Gramophone by Donnacha Cahill, a spellbinding adaptation of one of the most famous ballets, Swan Lake and, quite frankly, loads and loads more.

We had a chat with Mary Hickson, Artistic Director with Clonmel Junction Festival, who helped us explore the theme, The Cave, and the goal of the festival.

Overblown: Some of the shows take place in the Mitchelstown Cave. How did you pull that off?

Mary Hickson: It took may years to convince the owners to allow concerts in this amazing setting. I started the series in the summer of 2010 with an incredible event with James Vincent McMorrow, Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh and Lisa Hannigan and the series continued every summer since. It is 88 steps down and a half a mile walk underground to the most spectacular chamber where we hold the events. One of the most unique concert halls in the world!

O: This year’s festival is based around the theme of ‘The Black Sheep’. How was this theme chosen? What drew you to the theme?

MH: Most artists identify as black sheep and when we were told about the black sheep that was the first to be born into the local farm here in Knockraffan I decided it would be a lovely thing to celebrate. The Black Sheep breaks away from tradition, it goes against the tide and is different. We invite people to try something new this July and to see their town differently. We invite them to celebrate difference and break out of their usual routine.

O: The festival combines all kinds of art from ballet to music to visual art. Why is it important to you to have a diverse line up for the festival?

MH: Clonal Junction Festival is a national festival that takes place in County Tipperary. It is the premiere festival in the county and we aim to appeal to a wide ranging audience in order to present something for everyone and every budget.

O: I’m intrigued by the prospect of a 12-foot Gramophone by Donnacha Cahill at the festival. How will people be able to interact with it?

MH: People can connect via bluetooth. We will be scheduling the sounds from it over the few days it is in town. Donnacha has taken time to record sheep sounds that will be incorporated with some LIT students interviews with people on the idea of the black sheep and what it means to people. We plan to move it around a bit. It will definitely make an appearance at St. Patrick’s Well, Kickham Barracks and Marlfield lake. It will be impossible to miss it!

O: The music programme is quite extensive. Are there any acts that you are particularly looking forward to?

MH: I programmed Crash Ensemble many times before and this gig with Sam Amidon is ranked in my top 5 concerts in my lifetime. It is sublime. I am also really looking forward to This is the Kit, Jesca Hoop and seeing Rosie Carney live for the first time.

O: I really like the idea that knitwear designer Katie Hanlan, visual art organization Lay of the Land, graffiti artist James Earley and contemporary music group Crash Ensemble will be creating work that responds to the theme of the festival over the course of the week. Will people be able to watch them during the creative process?

MH: Yes, Katie will be finishing a piece on site on Fri and Sat in Kickham Barracks, not only are people able to watch but those with knit or crotchet experience can assist her in completing the piece. Lay of the Land will also be on site on Fri and Sat completing their installation in Kickham Barracks, people are welcome to observe them here. James Earley will be working on his piece all week on the street. He is encouraging people to come to see him complete the piece on Saturday between 2-4pm. Crash Ensemble are in residence, they will install sound scares i the confession box in Kickham Barracks church for the week. Kate Ellis and Yuki Numata Resnick will present and intimate evening of music on Friday. Crash Ensemble and Sam Amidon event will take place on Saturday night and they will present CrashLands at sunrise (5:15AM) on Sunday morning at St. Patrick’s Well.

O: Tell us more about The Cave, three intimate music events in Mitchelstown Cave?

MH: All events are double billed – each artist presenting 45 mins of music. The event will start at 8pm and we ask people to arrive at 7pm as we will bring people down in small groups. Once the concert is over everyone is invited to enjoy a glass of procecco once they are safely outside the cave. The programme includes:
Friday the 7th – Loah and Peter Broderick
Saturday the 8th – Rosie Carney and Jesca Hoop
Sunday the 9th – Brigid Mae Power and Marc O’Reilly

O: What is your goal for the festival?

MH: We want to present a world class festival across 7 extraordinary days in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. We want people to command experience something completely different, to try something new and celebrate difference. We invite people to come and Be the Black Sheep.

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