…what better time to chat about last Sunday, recording four incredibly talented women here in the studio. Maria and Michelle Mason, Siubhan Ni Ghriofa, and Marie-Louise Bowe were in with me performing string quartet duties for new music from Simon Quigley. There’s more technical info on the session over on my own site, but I wanted to write a wee bit about the women in music that have been so important to me as teachers, friends, and sources of inspiration.
I grew up playing traditional Irish music with my dad, me on the whistle and him on accordion. My mum would sing, and as I got older I was brought to the weekly seisiún in the village during the summer months. Here I got to meet a host of musicians not just from Adare but from all over Limerick and Munster. I was also getting into alternative and rock music at the time, playing guitar and bass; it has changed somewhat today, but the absence of girls in that scene at the time was lamentably noticeable. It was a different story in the trad world though, with the likes of Siobhan Condon, Fiona Lyons and her sisters, Annette Gorman and many others leading the way in proficiency, mentorship and flair in the field. And that’s just in Limerick county. More than that though, for me as a kid those girls were approachable, friendly, willing to share their vast knowledge and inspiring in their love of their music. They could “read the dots” much better than me, but they encouraged me to use my ear as well as I could and not be discouraged.
It wasn’t until I moved to Dublin that I got to meet and work with classical musicians. I was intimidated and first, not knowing much about music theory and still being slow with the sight reading. Working with Maria Mason and the O’Grady sisters (Eimear and Larissa) on those first sessions years ago opened my eyes to the way string players work, so similar in many ways to the fiddle players I knew back in that wee courthouse in Adare.
Fast forward to last Sunday, mother’s day, and there I am listening to four mothers producing beautiful music in the Live Room; it was such a fun day, intense but enjoyable. I can’t think of a better way to mark International Women’s day than to celebrate them and all the talented women that have been such a powerful influence on me in my life. Here’s to you all.