Ceól na hÉireann

for violin and viola

Jack Van Zandt

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for violin and viola

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Composer Jack Van Zandt
Year of Composition 2020
Duration ca.18'

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-jvz1cnh1


I. Ceomhar Reel;
II. The Ballad of Béal na Bláth;
III. St Brendan’s Hornpipe
IV. Immigrant’s Hymn;
V. Poitín Jug Jig

I have lived a significant portion of my life in Ireland, which has one of the oldest and most distinctive traditional music cultures in the world. I am especially attracted to the ancient Irish step dance forms and vocal ballads that are widely popular to this day. Other aspects of Irish traditional music I like very much are the idiosyncratic fiddle method and ornamental techniques that are unique to Irish music.

Ceól na hÉireann, which is Irish for “music of Ireland,” is a suite of five original compositions utilizing these native forms and techniques as heard in Ireland and places in North America where Irish music culture has been transplanted, such as Appalachia and Quebec. The set of pieces grew out of my love of Ireland’s history and culture and the desire to make some music that is pure fun and more than a little different from what I usually do. The pieces are based directly on traditional forms, with a few modern twists.

On a historical note, Béal na Bláth (pronounced “bel nuh blah” and translating to “mouth of flowers” in English), is the tiny village in West Cork near the spot where Ireland’s great national hero and leader Michael Collins, who negotiated Irish independence from Britain, was tragically ambushed and assassinated in 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

St. Brendan (Hornpipe) “the Navigator” (or “the Voyager”) was a 6th Century Irish priest from what is known today as Tralee, County Kerry. According to legend, he sailed in a traditional currach boat west from Ireland in search of Tír na nÓg (or Paradise) and “discovered” North America nearly 1,000 years before Columbus.

Immigrant’s Hymn is modeled on the style of Appalachian singing by immigrants to that area from Ireland in the wake of the mid-19th century potato famine.

Ceomhar (Reel) is Irish for “foggy” and Poitín (Jug Jig) is Irish “moonshine” liquor.

Ceomhar pronounced “kyover”

Poitín pronounced “po-tcheen”

Ceól na hÉireann pronounced “kyoll n’air-ann”