Tralee Artist To Premiere Latest Music ‘To The Sea’ Online

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Tralee musician Alma Kelliher aka Lux Alma.

A TRALEE native will premiere her latest music, commissioned by Siamsa Tíre, online on Thursday evening.

Alma Kelliher is a composer and sound designer who also makes music as the electro-folk solo act Lux Alma.

Confined to Dublin City for months on end, she found herself pining for home, where she had grown up with the awesome power of the Atlantic Ocean and the breath-taking beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way.

“I had the Irish Sea nearby but it’s not a patch on the wildness of the Atlantic,” says Alma. She took to looking at her home coast of Kerry on Google Maps.  “I followed it from south to north, wishing I could visit every inlet and bay,” she says.

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In the meantime, at home in Kerry, Siamsa Tíre, The National Folk Theatre of Ireland, had launched its Associate Artists Scheme, which was designed to financially support independent artists who had lost their livelihoods overnight.

“Siamsa Tíre is one of the few cultural centres in Ireland that has a team of artists on payroll, working full-time, all year round,” says Róisín McGarr, Executive Director of Siamsa Tíre.

“So, when the pandemic hit, it wasn’t just an operational and financial crisis, it was an existential one for our artists and the organisation. Who are we if we’re not continuously producing art that engages with the public? We launched our Associate Artists Scheme to meet our own need to restore our purpose and connect with other artists who found themselves in the same position.”

Alma is one of thirty-six artists working under this scheme.  She was commissioned to explore her idea of Irish folk culture.  When she was asked to develop a piece that spoke to what that meant to her, she had a ready answer.  Irish folk culture represented her roots, and her roots were at home on the coast of Kerry.

When lockdown lifted, she hightailed it back to the Atlantic and undertook her own journey along the Wild Atlantic Way.  “I stopped at every single one of those inlets I’d explored on Google Maps, 86 of them in all,” she says.

That’s not all Alma did. She made sound recordings at each stop of her coastal journey and set about making music from those recordings.  She has now woven them into a piece called To the Sea, a stirring track that combines the sounds of the seaside with vocals that tell of her love of the Atlantic.

Each instrument on this track is a sound from the seashore.  “The sea isn’t just the inspiration for this piece of music; it is the music,” says Alma.  “Every hit of a snare drum is a crashing wave in Rossbeigh.  Each kick drum is a thundering roll of the ocean at Coumeenole, and every synthesiser has a different sample of the Atlantic at its core.”

All of these sea sounds are folded in with Lux Alma’s trademark harmonies to create a unique piece of music which will soon be available as a digital seashell that we can all hold to our ears whenever we want to go To the Sea.

The piece of music is accompanied by an abstract music video created by renowned visual artist Paul Mahon.

He pieced together images Alma had filmed of the beaches of Kerry and combined them with footage of her running along that same coastline in a dress of coral-red tulle that was custom-made for Alma by fellow musician Constance Keane.

“It’s fantastic for Siamsa Tíre to have such a life-affirming project emerge from our Associate Artists Scheme, to have a piece of music that celebrates Alma’s home, the elemental beauty of the west of Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way, says Róisín McGarr.

To The Sea is being premiered on Siamsa Tíre’s Facebook at 8pm on Thursday, July 8.  From then on, it will be available on Spotify and other music streaming services and the video will be on YouTube for anyone who misses its original screening.

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