Trasna Triumph in Shanghai
The TRASNA ensemble, established in 2009 as a UCC School of Music response to the developing intercultural landscape of Cork. has just arrived home from a successful trip to EXPO in Shanghai where the ensemble represented UCC, Cork City and Ireland.
The ensemble performed for the first time in February 2010 in the Pavilion, Carey’s Lane Cork, where the huge potential of the group was evident. TRASNA went on to headline the closing event of the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures where they collaborated with a Moroccan Gnawa ensemble, traditional Irish music Powerhouse Guidewires, virtuoso Basque Txalaparta duo Ttukunak and dancer Colin Dunne.
For the trip to Shanghai, the ensemble was joined by several leading Irish performers, including Julie Feeney and Iarla Ó Lionáird and some exciting young UCC student traditional Irish musicians, Caitlin Nic Gabhann and Tara Breen. The combined members of TRASNA and the Cork Music Collective were, Mel Mercier, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Paul O’Donnell, Niwel Tsumbu, Dylan Gully, Mary Hickson, Eamonn Cagney, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Danny McCarthy, Mick O’Shea, Michelle Mulcahy, Niall Vallely, Kate Ellis, Tara Breen, Caitlín Nic Gabhann, John Godfrey and Julie Feeney.
During the week-long visit to Shanghai, TRASNA and the Cork Music Collective performed in the Irish Pavilion. The group also participated in a unique collaborative performance with the famous Chinese musician, Xiaohui Ma, (who plays the two-stringed Chinese fiddle on the soundtrack of the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) in the Australian Pavilion. In addition, the group will performed a concert with traditional musicians from Shanghai University and presented several workshops in local Shanghai schools.
In the Media
Extract from Shanghai Expo Website
Bringing Ireland and China together … in Australia - By Zachary Franklin/China-Files 2010-09-13
Chance performance at Expo blends cultures, giving visitors truly different experience.
With the threat of rain looming in the skies and the musicians opting to use the stage at the Australia pavilion, the additional element of performing in “Aussie” territory brought a unique cultural experience to the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
Originally scheduled to perform at the Ireland pavilion Sept. 9, contemporary Irish band Trasna joined China’s Ma Xiaohui, most recognized for her duet alongside Yo-Yo Ma for the soundtrack to the 2000 film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” in what was to be a fusion of music cultures.
The event turned into a collision of sound against the backdrop of the Australia pavilion, with more than 20 performers collaborating at the evening concert.
“It’s very unique to be doing something like this,” said Ma before the concert. “And to think that just because of the weather we’re now here at the Australia pavilion, and I’m seeing a whole new pavilion and musical setting. At first, we were a bit stressed about moving venues, but I’m happy right now. We’re all enjoying this very much.”
With the elevated stage located by the exit hall of the Australia pavilion, visitors were given an extra treat before leaving, a chance to sample the sounds of Ma’s traditional Chinese music – Ma plays the “erhu,” a string instrument that looks like a violin – alongside the array of musical sounds from Trasna, which included a pianist, tambourine player, harpist and cellist, to name a few.
“The group Trasna is about inter-culture music collaboration,” said Mel Mercier, head of the School of Music and Theater at University College Cork in Ireland. “It is perfect for us to be performing with one of China’s highest regarded musicians at the Expo. This is real world music.”
Part of Trasna’s appeal is the group’s ability to, according to singer and pianist Liam Ó Maonlaí, “take the mystery out of music,” and perform in a way that allows listeners to hear their own culture in Trasna’s songs.
“China is so rich in culture, and they have a strong connection with the past,” said Maonlaí before the concert. “We’ve performed several times at the Expo, and visitor’s response is always one of recognition. If you bring culture to people with culture, they will respond.”
Click Here for images of the performances