Diarmaid and Grainne
City Cantabile Choir presentsan ancient Irish Legend, the story of Diarmaid and Grainne. This is the ancestor tale of both Lancelot and Guinevere and Tristan and Isolde from very early pre-Christian Irish lore. It is part of what is called the Fenian cycle of Myths which revolve around the Great Irish hero, Fionn Mac Cumhail ( pronounced: finn mcKool).
Fionn is the leader of a band of warriors much like the knights of the round table in Arthurian legend.The men of this band, called the Fianna, have taken great oaths to protect women, to renounce personal revenge and to pursue knowledge and physical prowess. (As a side note: the boy scouts of Ireland take their name from the Fianna. And "Finnegans Wake" has a hidden meaning: Finn again will wake. This refers to the hero Fionn MacCumhaill, who is thought by some not to be dead but will rise and again champion the Irish people.)
The age old struggle against English rule and oppression often found inspiration from these mythical tales.Students of Gaelic in Ireland today will read Diarmaid and Grainne as part of standard curriculum.
This story begins in Fionns old age as he is betrothed to the much younger Grainne, princess of Tara. Grainne instead falls for the younger irresistible Diarmaid, who she pleads with to spirit her away from her own wedding feast and save her from an unhappy match with the aging Fionn. An enraged Fionn pursues the young lovers, who are helped by Diarmaid's benefactor Angus Og, the god of Love. These are the best people in the land who become entangled in the drama of jealousy, heartbreak, and betrayal.
Frederick N. West who has traveled throughout Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Mann, has had a great passion for the ancient lore and music of Celtic culture, this being his own heritage. By witnessing the actual Book of Kells in Dublin, exploring the 5000 year old Newgrange site of the Winter solstice alignment of the rising sun,spending many a night in the pubs which are the musical meccas of Irish culture, and reading voluminously of Celtic legends and folklore,Mr. West has distilled a poignant and powerful musical score for Diarmaid and Grainne.
The orchestration for this work is unusual, calling for oboe, french horn, bass clarinet, and percussion. Also featured in the concert are the magnificent talents of Tom Creegan on Irish pipes and Dale Russ on fiddle as well as the soprano solo of Grainne sung by Katherine Hanson, praised for her clear perfect intonation and shimmering vocal tone, and full chorus. The show will begin with a set of Irish jigs and reels and the Irish musicians will play throughout the narrative of the tale.
The story is spoken by local actor Darragh Kennan as from the old tradition of the bard, with the addition of choruses which reinforce the beauty and tragedy of the tale.
A special appearance by Christian Swenson, who is widely acclaimed as an extraordinary physical theatre artist, will add an element of astonishment as Fion MacCumhail comes to life.
This piece was first performed as a work in progress 10 years ago and is now presented in the full version.
Green Lake United Methodist Church (View)
6415 1st Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98115