Interview with Simon Morgan – Thomas Moore Reawakened – NCH
Thomas Moore Reawakened – Wednesday 21st February, 8.00pm at the National Concert Hall
When did the idea for this event start? Who put it all together?
The idea came almost 10 years ago when I found a book of Thomas Moore songs “Moore’s Melodies” and lost an afternoon playing through and singing them on piano. I had known them from singing them as a kid and from my grandparents singing them but had always seen them as “classical music” songs until that day, when I sang through them and realised they would work in other styles. I was quite involved with jazz and Irish music at the time so got together some music friends from different styles and we spent a day exploring and making demos. From that day to this, it’s been one of those “labour of love” projects that has always been at back of my mind and I’ve worked on it whenever I’ve had free time. As I explored doing them in various styles, it’s taken some time to find a “sound” that ties all the songs together, but finally, after a decade I hope I’ve cracked it!
Tell me about ‘the Moorings’? Do you exist as a band or is it just for this night?
The Moorings does now exist as a band. It consists of Karl Nesbitt, who is an amazingly talented multi-instrumentalist (flute, bazouki, and bodhran); I first worked with Karl when we both were guests with the wonderful internationally renowned fiddler, Mairead Nesbitt, and the Hong Kong City Chamber Orchestra, where I performed some of Moore’s Melodies with full orchestral arrangements by Gavin Murphy. The other member is Drazen Derek, a virtuosic guitarist in styles from jazz to classical; he has played with everyone from Ravi Shankar to The Chieftains, and I have worked with him a lot in the jazz world over the past decade. The evening of the concert will be our first major concert , though we will also perform on the 18th February in The amazing White Horse in Ballincollig, Cork, and have a number of dates coming up after the concert. We have also recorded an album of the Moore’s Melodies which will be launched in April..watch this space!
It’s an impressive line-up of performers. Will the line up on stage be constantly changing on the night?
For the most part, all artists will collaborate together on the night, and we will try and make it more like an informal old drawing room like environment where musicians stay on stage but come in and out on different songs; for the rest of the time artists will sit back and enjoy the concert rather than leaving the stage. There will be feature moments for the likes of Eddi Reader, Lisa Lambe, Eleanor Mc Evoy, and The Key Notes, where we will invite them on stage to join the rest of the musicians…and the hope is that, at the end of the concert, all musicians and singers will be on stage for a big sing song!
How many musicians can we expect on stage with the singers?
We have 7 musicians on stage, Karl Nesbitt and Drazen Derek, as mentioned above, and an embarrassment of musical riches in Martin Tourish (of Altan) on piano accordion, Cormac de Barra (legendary harpist) on harp, Dave Fleming (formerly van Morrison band) on bass. Nigel linden (amazing multi-genre talent) on piano, Myles Drennan (massively respected jazz player) on drums/percussion.
Thomas Moore was a remarkable character in history. Do you think he has been forgotten in some respects?
Certainly in the last 30 years or so, Thomas Moore has gone from being an ever present and central figure in the Irish musical subconscious, to a figure on the sidelines, mostly remembered by our parents and grandparents. For someone whose songs helped catapult John Mc Cormack to stardom, and have been covered by everyone from Bing Crosby to Nina Simone, he is someone who has faded a little bit, though his lyrics certainly stand the test of time, and songs like “come send round the wine” and “sail on” have messages that are so relevant to today. The melody of his song “believe me if all those endearing young charms” was so well known that it formed the basis of a repeated gag in early bugs bunny cartoons, so really it’s time for a renaissance!
What’s next for yourself? How far ahead do you plan?
In the next few months the focus will be on The Moorings and Thomas Moore -Reawakened and we will be releasing an album of the songs in April. In the meantime I’m involved in a few other musical projects, including a nationwide tour with the trumpeter Niall O’Sullivan (entitled “My Funny Valentine”) and concerts at the National Concert Hall in the show “The Golden voices of Hollywood”, and “Will you Remember”(the Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Mc Donald story produced and performed by soprano Sandra Oman). Also, I will be back in the NCH with a Ballet/Opera collaboration called Prima Donna, in April which should be fun!
As a musician, it can be hard to plan too far in advance. There will always be some concerts or short tours that are 7/8 months ahead, but from week to week different events will turn up with only couple of weeks notice. To live in one place as a musician means having your finger in a few musical pies, so every week is different and I’m very fortunate to be able to work across a number of musical genres from classical to jazz and trad.
THOMAS MOORE – REAWAKENED
A Host Of Irish and International Stars Set To Celebrate Thomas Moore
For One Night Only at the National Concert Hall on Wednesday 21 February 2018
With performances from Simon Morgan, Karl Nesbitt, Drazen Derek, Lisa Lambe, The Key Notes, Eddi Reader, Martin Tourish, Dave Fleming
A host of Irish and International artists are coming together for one night only to celebrate the wordsmith and bard Thomas Moore and the old Irish airs he rejuvenated. THOMAS MOORE – REAWAKENED will be an unforgettable night of music at the National Concert Hall on February 21st 2018.
Staying true to the words of Thomas Moore, The Moorings have reimagined Moore’s Melodies with beautiful simple arrangements interspersed with Salsa, Jazz, and Eastern European influences, reflecting a modern international Ireland.
The Moorings are acclaimed musicians Simon Morgan, Karl Nesbitt, and Drazen Derek who will be joined by renowned artists Eddi Reader, Martin Tourish, Lisa Lambe, Dave Fleming, Nigel Linden and The Key Notes.
Don’t miss this unique gathering of musicians as the perform Oft In The Stilly Night, Oh! Breathe Not His Name, Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms, and many other favourites will be interspersed with Melodies rarely, if ever heard, in the past century.
Venue: National Concert Hall, Dublin
Date: 21 February 2018
Room: Main Stage
Prices: €32, €26.50, €20.50, €15 (Choir Balcony)
Concessions: €28, €23.55, €18.15, €13 (Choir Balcony)