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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Aonaracht – exploring opportunities that arise when traditional music is confronted with new ideas

Belfast harpist, composer and sound engineer Úna Monaghan

Through her music, Úna Monaghan explores the opportunities that arise when traditional folk music is confronted with new ideas, breaking all the rules.

A new feature length documentary follows the Belfast harpist, composer and sound engineer as she records her latest experimental album Aonaracht.

Aonaracht, on BBC Two Northern Ireland and BBC iPlayer on Sunday 11 February at 10pm, was made for BBC Gaeilge and TG4 by DoubleBand Films with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

Úna has spent a lifetime steering the course between science and art, examining the intersections between Irish traditional music, experimental music, improvisation and interactive technologies.

Influenced by the work of John Cage, Úna has made the form her own.

Aonaracht is one of her most ambitious projects to date and Úna must now convince other top traditional musicians to embrace the art form she is pioneering: recording an album of solo performances with electronics.

All this takes place while Úna is also embarking on another new project - motherhood.

The multiple meanings of Aonaracht (singularity, solitude), are layered throughout this film, from the solo pieces Úna composes for her artists to the laser-focus she brings to her compositions.

Yet they are also contrasted with the collaborative nature of the album and of Úna’s artistic partnership with sculptor Nóirín Nic Alastair, who happens to be her mother. As Úna prepares to welcome her first child into the world, the question arises – will motherhood accommodate her artistic ambition?

Aonaracht features contributions from some of the finest traditional musicians in Ireland, including Pauline Scanlon, Paddy Glackin, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Jack Talty, Saileog Ní Cheannabháin and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn.

This film examines the process of making an album from conception to completion, through the challenges, self-doubt and life changes along the way, exploring the conflict that arises between parenthood and artistic expression.

Aonaracht airs Sunday 11 February at 10pm on BBC Two Northern Ireland and BBC iPlayer.

This programme is part of Season of Arts, on BBC iPlayer and BBC Northern Ireland from Sunday 11 February.


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