A group of Mayo musicians, singers and dancers who travelled to New York last week to premiere the Fainne Oir orchestral and contemporary dance work created by Castlebar composer and Musical Director, Kathy Fahey, are now enjoying the fruits of their labour as rave reviews for the production both nationally and internationally roll in.
The 70-strong cast first performed the work in front of a 1,200 strong audience at the Irish premier of Fainne Oir in the TF Royal Theatre on Friday September 20, which concluded with a standing ovation at the end of the show. Six days later, having travelled to New York, the group again premiered the work, this time before an American audience at the Symphony Space Theatre on Broadway. Once more the 800-capacity venue enjoyed a full house and the audience rose to their feet at the Finale to show their appreciation.
Fainne Oir is now effectively on tour as theatre houses and showbiz agents right around the globe express an interest in having the show travel to various destinations. First up is the University of Limerick on Saturday October 26 next, where Fainne Oir choreographer Ciara Sexton is based. Fainne Oir is also tipped to play at Cork Opera House while calls have been made for a second show in New York, a UK city tour as well as a trip to an exotic location in India!
In a full-page spread in the October 2 edition of the Irish Echo - the largest circulation Irish American weekly newspaper with a 50-state subscription base, theatre reviewer Kevin Phoenix heaped lavish praise on Kathy Fahey for her 'ambitious music score' and 'compelling interpretation of the Irish-American story', describing Mayo Concert Orchestra's performance of the work as 'phenomenal'.
Phoenix wrote: "On last Thursday evening a delighted audience saw the US premier of Fáinne Óir - a new theatrical experience hailing from County Mayo at the Peter Norton Theatre in Symphony space. This production, a unique hybrid of music, dance and dramatic recitation (narration by Sarah Maria Lafferty ), is the recent creation of composer Kathy Fahey, who along with co-producer Mike Hannon, brought to the New York stage for one performance a timeless story of the Irish-American experience five generations in the making."
The reviewer continued: "The ambitious music score, performed phenomenally by the Mayo Concert Orchestra, was as complex in its blend of Irish and traditional and contemporary classical modes as it was a tremendous treat to hear. Fahey’s synthesis of ancient Celtic, conjured by choral group Voxfusion and the traditional reminiscences, played richly by Diarmuid Moynihan, Stephen Doherty and David Doocey, melded so radiantly with the modern orchestra in a way that perfectly encapsulated the sound of Ireland in the 21st Century.
"The darling factor that literally had audience members jumping out of their seats was the dance: a hypnotic halfway between Irish dance and contemporary ballet choreographed and starring renaissance artist of 'Riverdance" fame, Ciara Sexton, exceeding all expectations."
Phoenix also praised the Fainne Oir artwork provided by artist Padraig McCaul, who is also a saxophonist with the orchestra, as being 'abstract and curiously cubist' and bringing 'an intriguing modernist perspective' to the Irish-American story."
He concluded: "This show is sure to tug your heartstrings and wrap you around its finger like a fáinne óir."
Meanwhile, journalist Paul O'Malley in the Western People described the show's Irish premier at the TF Royal Theatre as a 'Stunning debut' that captitvated the audience and drew a standing ovation from the full house, with a grateful Kathy Fahey quoted as saying it was 'like a Mayo match' with Mayo people out in their droves to support 'one of their own'.
Fainne Oir plays at UL on Saturday October 26. See www.fainneoir.com for more.