As much a phenomenon

where great art is found
joy and hope abound in life’s
expressive dancing

Absolutely astonishing! – I’m just back from a 25th Anniversary live screening of Riverdance (link) – ‘as much a phenomenon as a show.’ Thirty-something years ago I was spellbound by the intense connection between Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean dancing on ice at the Birmingham NEC to Ravel’s Bolero. I remember being well-nigh overwhelmed, deeply touched by such communion and trust between two persons.

Riverdance, today, is an extravaganza. A most exquisite, generous and magical celebration of Irish life, love, history, mystery, joy and pain. Hauntingly beautiful Uilleann pipes, accordion, drums, fiddle, harp, song and whistles. Electrifying, foot-tapping, synchronised Irish (and American and Russian) dancing. Utterly gorgeous costume and staging. Wow! the arts can teach us a thing or two about community, connection, and the rewards of discipline: ‘like any athlete, we think of ourselves as striving in our sport to be the very best that we can be.’

I am deeply delighted. And humbled. And – because such art exists among humankind – also profoundly hopeful.


Caoineadh Cú Chulainn, Bill Whelan
Uilleann Pipes, Tara Howley

This is lament (link) and love for an entire culture: a piece about mourning Cú Chulainn, a warrior hero and demigod in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore. The underlying ‘drone’ of orchestral harmonies that are gradually heard here, like ‘dawn’ behind and around the lone (in this case, female) Uilleann piper, may bring tears to your eyes. Our lives are surrounded and supported by ‘other’ sounds – the cantus firmus, the enduring melody