Interview With Mel Mercier/Fuaim Festival, first published in Downtown/The Evening Echo 2014-3-20

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Fuaim, which means ‘sound’ as gaeilge, is an element of UCC’s music and theatre department, their various activities over the 5 years have won many plaudits from both music fans and critics. Mel Mercier, it’s chief programmer, spoke with Ronan Leonard ahead of the first ever Fuaim Festival which will be held between Friday 21 and Sunday 23 March

Firstly Mel explained the concept behind Fuaim, “it’s a music in the community initiative and I think it is probably the flagship outreach project of UCC. It has been very successful in bringing people onto the campus that ordinarily would not have a reason to visit the university. It’s a big part of UCC’s intention to build what we call the ‘creative campus’ and remove the boundaries between the city and the campus; music and the arts really are an effective way to do that. We provide a programme of mostly free lunch time and evening concerts, workshops and talks; they are open to anybody who wants to come along. Up to this point in time there have been around 200 events and the audience has grown with it too, invariably each concert is full.”

Mel went on to explain how the festival will also be marking two different anniversaries, “we are celebrating many of the success of the last five years with concerts from a range of world-class artists, many of whom are graduates of UCC such as {award winner?] Julie Feeney, who won the Choice Music Prize in 2006, and Philip King (creator of Other Voices) who will be bringing his legendary group Scullion.”

Mel continued “it will also feature the 20th anniversary concert of the UCC Gamelan ensemble. We have developed a large repertoire and have also been composing our own music for the Gamelan; that music is not drawn particularly from the Indonesian sound but rather is influenced by a lot more contemporary genre. Over the years we have collaborated with many different musicians, dancers and poets. On the night we’ll be playing a few pieces with Colin Dunne, a modern dancer; we’ve written two new songs with Duke Special; and also we’ll be debuting what I think will be the first ever fusion of Indonesian sounds and Irish Sean Nós singing, with Iarla O’Lionáird, who has been the traditional artist in residence in UCC; and also the much loved West Cork Ukulele Orchestra which led is by Kevin McNally, who is also a long standing member of UCC Gamelan Orchestra”



Ronan Leonard’s Top 5 Tips of the Fuaim Programme, (but he insists you make up your own mind!)

Some of the best current traditional musicians students and dancers in a joint
concert of new compositions and arrangements of old tunes. Some of the music featured will include arrangements by Seán Ó Riada and tunes retrieved from wax cylinders in UCC’s archives.

Friday 21 March 1.10 pm – Aula Maxima, UCC – Free

The FUAIM Futures Festival Club

Friday shall feature some cutting edge electronic music by acts such as Irene and Linda Buckley; the debut of CAVE (the Cork Audio Visual Ensemble) and also current and past students of UCC.

Saturday shall have be a late night session of world music, and original and classic pop, it promises to be a night of “inventive fusion, tightly knit vocal harmonies, and sophisticated rhythms.”

Friday 21 March & Sat 22 March – 11pm, Half Moon Theatre – €10

Vanburgh String Quartet & Guests

RTE’s resident string quartet will be joined Mícheál Ó Súilleabhan, the founder of the Irish World Music Academy of Music, and Niall Vallely, a founder member of Nomos and one of the preeminent concertina players in the country. The concert will also feature the premiere performance of the winning composition in the UCC String Quartet Competition 2013–14.

Saturday 22 March – 1.10pm – Triskel Arts Centre – Free

The Cork Gamelan Ensemble & Guests

See main text

Saturday 22 March – 8pm – Cork Opera House – €25/20

UCC Choir with John Spillane

One of the most memorable collaborations in the Fuaim series, John Spillane and the UCC Choir return to present choral arrangements of some of John’s most
popular songs, such as ‘The Ballad of Patrick Murphy’, ‘All The Ways You Wander’ and ‘The Mad Woman of Cork’.

Sunday 23 March – 1pm – Cork Opera House Foyer – Free

The full programme can be found as


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