I asked Isabel Neuenfeldt, Dearbhla Mc Taggart and Joe Kelly questions ahead of the world – premiere of “Danny Boys Ghost” performed by Berlin’s famous artist:
“Ready for More”
Q. The 25th Flax – Mill Yard – Fest will see a unique fusion on stage: A 16 year old Irish Harpist from Dungiven meets a very profiled singer/songwriter/accordionist from Berlin. Is this going to work?
Definitely! We are contrasting in our style, play very different instruments and come from totally different backgrounds – I think these differences are going to complement each other on stage. We’ll be doing ‘our own pieces’ separately but the joint playing should be the highlights of the set.
Oh yes, that’s going to work, I am very confident. I had the chance to get to know the ‘harpist from Dungiven’ last year. Practising together is only possible ‘through your minds’, given the distance we live apart. Music is about vibrations, not only the notes, also the words, the energy that transports them – there’s a lot more in that than just the physical work, the craft so to speak. We both deal with our craft; practise every day, the rest is possible despite the distance. The song that landed with me – and with Dearbhla is actually about that.
Q. You met here in the Roe Valley last year – what did you like about one another, what are you going to do together on stage?
Isabel is an amazing person – she has a very happy personality and is ever so easy to get on with. Add that to the fact that she is a brilliant musician – you have to love her.
We haven’t worked out the exact programme for the stage but will do that over the next couple of weeks. She is very experienced and I will gladly haver her ‘take the lead’ during the performance.
Dearbhla is the same age as my daughter and plays the most Irish of all instruments in a very inspiring way. She listens intensely when she’s playing with someone else and is ready for the ‘more’ all the time. This ‘more than’ can happen in music, especially when musicians meet. I feel that the new or next generation is more open for the ‘more’ and it is great joy to meet on this level – to meet Dearbhla musically and in general!
I don’t know our programme yet, am excited and full of ideas. The song which landed with us – I have a notion it isn’t the only piece of music we are going to ‘bring to life’ together.
Q. The 25th Yard Fest will be big and many who have been there will return. The audience has been spoiled over a quarter of a century – many of the greats of Irish and other music were performing on stage. Do you think it is hard to live up to that?
I don’t think so – all you can do is your best. I feel I have got much more comfortable on stage and I practise a lot. Being there with Isabel is very special and you can be sure we will give it all for the audience.
I am not usually nervous before a gig. Last year when I performed at the Yard – Fest I was as excited as ever I can remember, I will be like that again this year. It is a great honour to be asked to perform there – the excitement last year strengthened my stage – presence and helped me very much. To make it short for you: I am waiting totally relaxed for this new excitement!
Q. Rumours have it that Joe Kelly’s “Danny Boy’s Ghost” will be in your programme. Can you confirm that and if so – what do you make of the piece?
I’ll leave the confirming to Isabel (smiles).
It is a very good piece of music, both as far as the lyrics are concerned and the melody. It’s a really haunting tune, when you start playing it, you feel as if you are in the story.
I often sing for dead people *, for ghosts you may say. “Danny Boy’s Ghost” stands symbolic for many human beings who are no longer there, who have gone forever.
*Isabel Neuenfeldt is famous for her concerts at large funerals and memorial services. She has special programmes for such events.
At funeral concerts my attempt is to bring the person, his or her vibrations, back to life for a moment by singing their favourite songs.
The song, “Danny Boy’s Ghost” is based on, has been sung many times the world over – so much pain and so much hope has been put into it – hope which continues to exist beyond the life of people. Songs like this one which are sung by many people and for many years are charged, “loaded up” with the emotions which have been sung into them. It’s good to sing them over and again – they have healing – power I believe.
Danny Boy, whose ghost Joe has dedicated the song to, makes his lover come back from her long sleep, called by the vibrations of the pipes. That’s exactly how I would define the power of music. The wonderful piece is a tribute, a toast to the strength of songs, their ability to open doors beyond space And time. I don’t think it is coincidental for the song to land at my doorstep – I will have it with me, bring it back home to the Limavady area.”