Lovers of harmonies and the incredible instrument that is the human voice will find a musical Mecca in Nun’s Island Theatre on Friday 11 December, as Coda play their first concert there. Oranmore-born Leonard Kelly is a founder member of this all-male, seven-strong group who are becoming something of a phenomenon nationwide as their richly-harmonised approach to vocal performance reaches an ever-growing audience.
Leonard’s own musical background dates right back to early childhood piano lessons, but he abandoned the keyboard in favour of singing many moons ago. “For whatever reason, singing was the area that really appealed to me and I’ve been involved in choirs and performance since my late teens”.
Indeed the founder member of Coda has plenty of experience of the Galway stage having performed in the 80s with both Taibhdhearc na Gailimhe and the Patrician Musical Society. His teaching career brought him north to Mayo where he settled in Westport and continued singing, this time with Cór Mhaigh Eo.
Formed four years ago from Cór Mhaigh Eo members, Coda revel in experimenting with their voices, performing seven-part harmonies in eclectic mix of musical styles, including Celtic and North American music, traditional and contemporary folk songs and original compositions.
Popular songs from sources as diverse as Clannad, Tom Waits, Van Morrison and The Beatles get the special Coda treatment too.
The group’s repertoire comprises both a capella arrangements and songs with instrumental accompaniment (guitar, mandolin, banjo, whistle, flute, fiddle ) as well as traditional Irish music. The group take a creative approach to developing their arrangements, enjoying the fluidity of improvisation; writing it down is the last step in the evolution.
A closer look at the members of Coda, casts some light upon the remarkable musical resources within the group. Dr Brian Lennon, perhaps the best known, is a member of the Lennon family from Leitrim, who are soaked in traditional Irish music. Declan Askin, a teacher by profession, is making a name for himself as a songwriter of note. Perhaps less known is that fellow group member Conal O’Domhnaill’s illustrious siblings include Maireád and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Mícheál O’Domhnaill of the legendary group, The Bothy Band.
Earlier this year one of Coda’s YouTube videos took on a life of its own and. A timely online article from the San Francisco Globe and the video game Assassins Creed triggered 350,000 hits on the stirring sea shanty ‘Leave her Johnny’.
Coda will perform in The Nuns Island Theatre, Galway on Friday December 11th at 8pm. Tickets are €12 and are available at the Galway Arts Centre. www. galwayartscentre.ie