By: Matthew Halpin, Presidential Scholar, Tenor Saxophonist, Composer and Bandleader. See Ireland Gets the Presidential Treatment for more on the Matt Halpin Group Tour of Ireland.
The past two weeks have been extremely busy for all of us, and hugely successful too. The four Dublin performances were all packed and very well received. The workshop and the two performances in Sligo also had really good numbers, especially for a Sunday and Monday night. The Headford workshop was tied in with a summer school that’s was going on at the time so there were about 30 students between the ages of 8 and 18, many of which came to the performance that night with parents and siblings. So, again the room was filled to capacity! The workshop at the Berklee International Network partner Newpark Music Centre in Dublin was attended by several of the degree students and a number of younger students who had heard about it either on the internet or from their teachers.
Also, we made it up to Belfast to record in the BBC radio studios live and to do some interviews. These recordings have been broadcast several times on BBC Northern Ireland as well as on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3. These stations are available throughout England and Ireland.
We also played what I believe to be the first Jazz gig on Achill Island ever!
Making this tour happen, having it covered in newspapers, on radio and on the internet has been and will continue to be a brilliant thing for me. I have gained tremendous experience in the past few months and have gained skills and contacts that will stand to me for years to come. I’m so glad that this tour has affected such a huge number of
people around Ireland in positive ways, not only those who saw and enjoyed the music or those that came to the workshops but the musicians around the country who have been put off touring because of the amount of effort and risks involved. For them to see that it’s possible may just reignite or fuel some of the musical activity around the country.
I am extremely pleased with how the entire trip has materialized. I’m thinking back to the negative and deterring conversations that I had with venues, promoters and local musicians while putting together this tour. Most of which were valid warnings and opinions based on the current economic climate in Ireland. I’ve learned a lot about the value of persistence and the incredible support of the great friends and musicians I have around the country and abroad. This has been a full time tour for the lads, with the amount of playing time, travel and sightseeing we’ve managed to pack in. Each of us have had our moments of exhaustion along the trip but I’ve been impressed every time at how without even saying anything the others pick up the slack, whether it’s musically, physically moving gear, or just keeping each other in good humor. These four guys (guitarist Mike Bono, pianist Christian Li, bassist Jared Henderson and drummer Roberto Gianquinto) have been a pleasure to travel
with. After this experience, I’ll never underestimate the importance of organizing a tour with people you really like and can have a good laugh with. It’s an honor to have been able to show them some where I come from, have them meet my family and friends, bring them to some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet (in my
opinion) and to share the warmth and hospitality of the Irish culture with them.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Berklee College of Music, to Jason Camelio and the Office of International Programs, also to Damien Bracken and the Office of Admissions. Your support has been invaluable to us! Also to my parents, who have been unbelievably supportive of me and all of the mad projects that I land on them. To Eddie Lee, managing director of the Sligo Jazz Project, Ronan Guilfoyle head of the jazz department at the Berklee International Network partner Mewpark Music Centre, and to Matthew Berrill at Presentation School in Headford for hosting us for workshops and their help in coordinating venues and accommodation. Also to Linley Hamilton and BBC Radio Northern Ireland for the fantastic recording session and experience we had up there.
Thank you all!!