Gig of the Week: MusicTown 2018

Dublin festival features concerts, workshops, masterclasses and creative partnerships

Motor City might be Detroit, but MusicTown is most definitely Dublin – or at least it will be until Sunday, April 22nd. From now until then, a stream of music events that run the gamut from classical to trad, from spoken word to rock, from opera to audio-visual will flow from south of the Liffey to north.

Now in its fourth year, the event was founded by Dublin City Council and has been programmed by Aiken Promotions, whose Leagues O'Toole acts as this year's creative director. O'Toole is an experienced hand, not only as an informed promoter/booker but also as a lover of what he terms "the open playing-field" of music, "where actors, writers, visual artists, literally anyone can get involved".

With this in mind, MusicTown 2018 rolls along on the wheels of community and alliance, bringing in a vast array of concerts, workshops, masterclasses and creative partnerships across an equally wide range of musical disciplines, including contemporary classical, choral, opera, folk, traditional, rock, spoken word, hip-hop, alternative, ambient and electronic. There is something for everyone, and – unusually for catch-all events such as these – genuine highlights from start to finish.

Classical and opera fare includes My First Concert, which sees very young musicians undertake their debut concert performance (Sunday, April 15th, Royal Irish Academy of Music, noon, adm free, booking required); Brenda Hurley Masterclass (Wednesday, April 18th, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 10am, adm free, booking required); The Still Point of the Turning World (Wednesday, April 18th, Assembly Rooms, Irish Georgian Society, 7pm, €20), which sees the Ficino Ensemble perform Beethoven's String Quartet No 15 op132 to the accompaniment of Olwen Fouéré's reading of TS Eliot's Four Quartets; and Mozart's The Opera Director (Saturday, April 21st, Gaiety Theatre, 3pm, adm free, booking required).


Somewhat more contemporary shows in the folk/traditional/rock areas include A Night of Musical Stories, with Katie Kim and Lankum's Radie Peat (tonight, Saturday, April 14th, Pepper Canister Church, 8pm, €15); The Unthanks, with the Orchestra of Ireland (Tuesday, April 17th/Wednesday, April 18th, Abbey Theatre, 7.30pm, €32); Little Green Cars in collaboration with UK visual artist Andrew Vickery (Thursday, April 19th, Abbey Theatre, 7.30pm, €30); Lisa O'Neill in collaboration with writer Pat McCabe, Cass McCombs and Ian Lynch of Lankum (Friday, April 20th, Abbey Theatre, 7.30pm, €30); and co-headliners John Sheahan and Colm Mac Con Iomaire (Saturday, April 21st, Abbey Theatre, 7.30pm, €30, special guests to be announced).

Other must-see events include London-based composer/producer Louis Carnell, aka Visionist, whose work in the audio-visual area (accompanied here by Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Maia) is regarded as both disturbing and original (tonight, Saturday, April 14th, Chocolate Factory, 8pm, €15); Issa Vibe (Tuesday, April 17th, Workman's Club, 7pm, €10), a comprehensive spoken word/hip-hop showcase featuring Loud Motive, Felispeaks, Jyellowl, Sahsa Terfous, and Dagogo Hart.

Are You a Button Man? (Wednesday, April 18th, The Sugar Club, 8pm, €10) features interviews conducted by historian Donal Fallon with retired Dublin dockers as well as music from Lisa O'Neill and fiddle player Danny Diamond; and Béal (Saturday, April 21st, The Ireland Institute, 8.30pm, €12) is an evening of poetry and traditional Irish music, co-presented by Stephen James Smith and Macdara Yeates.

In keeping with its "open playing-field" approach, MusicTown 2018 concludes with a free event on Sunday, April 22nd. Presented by the Dublin Choral Foundation, the Teddybear's Picnic features youngsters and adults choral singing from the start point of Wolfe Tone Square (at noon) to the end point of South King Street.

See for further information about the events mentioned as well as more MusicTown shows.