In 2013, Derry-Londonderry became the UK City of Culture - the first time the title has been held anywhere outside of England. As we find out – the walls are alive with the sound of music...so what's happened so far:
Peace One Day Concert
It’s April 2012. Along with Jude Law, Jeremy Gilley came to Derry-Londonderry to host the Peace One Day Concert. Jeremy took his first look around the concert’s venue, Ebrington Square, and liked what he saw. “You could not be in a better location!” He’s got a point. Ebrington, though, did not begin life as a concert venue: up until 10 years ago this was an army barracks. The Peace One Day Concert was the first day of its new life as a live venue.
It's February 13th and Other Voices defines the intimate concert. No bells and whistles were needed, just good acoustics and perfect voices combining to create a magical musical television program. Sinead O’Connor, Florence and the Machine, Jose Gonzalez, Jarvis Cocker, Snow Patrol... The big names came, they saw and they sang. Beautifully. Until February 2013, aside from a trip to New York, Other Voices has never been planned for anywhere outside Dingle. That all changed at Derry-Londonderry in 2013.
The Fleadh Cheoil
August 2013 and it's the Fleadh Cheoil, otherwise known as the Olympics of traditional Irish music. It competitive, it’s hard fought. Most of all, it’s fun. Stages were erected mid-street, kids strain under the weight of bodhrans, fiddles and flutes and Irish dancing erupts on the sidewalk. A look down the list of Fleadh Cheoil since 1951 is telling: the event has never taken place in Northern Ireland.
Those who know Derry~Londonderry’s musical pedigree weren't surprised to see music take centre stage for the city’s year as UK City of Culture. The list of Derry-Londonderry’s musical sons and daughters is a healthy one: Fergal Sharkey and the Undertones, singer-songwriter Phil Coulter, Girls Aloud's Nadine Coyle and Glee star Damian McGinty. The famous tear-jerker Danny Boy is also known as The Londonderry Air thanks to the place of its provenance. Music isn’t just in the air here, it’s in the blood.
Johnny McDaid, songwriter for groups such as Northern Ireland music maestros, Snow Patrol, is a Derry-Londonderry local, and proud of it. According to Johnny:
"Derry is on the edge of the water, the edge of the country, and on the edge of Europe. City of Culture puts Derry where it deserves to be for its moment: at the centre, where a light can shine on the well of talent, creativity and spirit it is home to.”
And it's not over yet...