Northern Ireland

‘Master musician’ sessions among unique events for Belfast TradFest

(PA) (PA)

Master musician sessions will be among the unique events people can take part in at this year’s Belfast TradFest.

The “listening sessions”, as they’re called, reflect the Ceili house tradition where musicians and admirers gather at the home of a master musician to watch them practice their craft.

The sessions offer budding talents the chance to see their favourite performers play for the first hour, before the floor is opened for all to participate.

The fifth Belfast TradFest takes place over eight days from July 23-30, and features music events taking place in some of the city’s best-known traditional pubs.

All sessions are free admission and last two hours.

Traditional musicians such as Joanie Madden, Neil Martin, Mary Bergin, Brid Harper, Gerry ‘Banjo’ O’Connor, Siobhan Peoples, John Doyle, Paul ‘The Brother’ Maguire, Francis McIlduff and Maeve O’Donnell and Joshua Burnside are all billed as part of the event.

Belfast TradFest artistic director Donal O’Connor said the Session Trail, which is being sponsored by McConnell’s Irish Whisky this year, will take place in 15 Belfast pubs.

“Many of these bars such as Madden’s Bar, The Garrick, Kelly’s Cellars & The Sunflower support traditional music week in, week out and we’re delighted to support them and the other bars on the session trail, where we have programmed some of the finest traditional musicians on the planet for over sixty free sessions,” he said.

Belfast Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy said: “I can’t wait to see our beautiful Unesco city of music come alive with traditional music and dance in the last week of July, celebrating Belfast’s undeniable talent.

“It’s fantastic that the Belfast TradFest McConnell’s Irish Whisky Session Trail will be making these artforms even more accessible to new audiences – both Belfast residents, and our many welcome summer visitors – offering free sessions with some of the best contemporary talent.”

The event is funded by Belfast City Council, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Destination CQ and in partnership with Ulster University.