Other Voices rolls out its grand Irish experiment to Berlin

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, New Jackson, Tom Adams and Soulé among well-received acts

First they took Manhattan and then Austin. Now, 15 years after starting in Dingle, Other Voices has finally had its Lou Reed moment to take Berlin.

On Thursday evening the acclaimed Irish concert series swapped St James's Church for the Riverside Studios, opposite the former Berlin Wall.

With a top-rate line-up of the contemporary Irish music scene, Other Voices impresario Philip King welcomed the Berlin visit as sending an important signal of Ireland's embrace of creativity as its unique selling point in the Brexit-Trump era.

“We feel the collision between the arts and sciences may offer us a competitive edge,” he said. “But investing in the arts in a traditional manner and looking for a definable outcome, like a tourism dividend, is not going to yield the holy grail of new intellectual property, whether it’s a film, song, play, piece of literature or new piece of digital kit.”


He called for greater spending on creative subjects in schools, to help create the creative class of tomorrow. Members of today's Irish creative class performing in the sweaty Riverside Studio space included the mesmerising Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, showing Berlin audiences where Irish traditional music can go, and David Kitt of the electronic music project New Jackson. Other well-received performers: the falsetto of Tom Adams, Talos and Balbriggan native Soulé.

“It’s so inspiring to be in Berlin. There’s such a buzz here,” said Soulé on her first visit to the German capital. “There’s been a lot happening in the Irish music scene of late so it’s humbling to be part of bringing it out here. We’ve had such support.”

The Berlin visit for Other Voices was part of the German capital's Tech Open Air interdisciplinary technology conference and was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Creative Ireland.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin