Vocal Chords is a multi award winning music documentary series made by Athena Media for RTÉ Lyric fm presented by one of Ireland’s most acclaimed sean-nós singers Iarla Ó Lionáird made with the funding support of the BAI and the TV licence fee.
In a sonic journey across the world Iarla and the production team, including Robert Hope and Michael Gallen, recorded the stories and journeys of vocal experiences from South Africa to Siberia. The series posed that eternal question of
‘Why do we sing, and what happens when we sing?’
The series has Gold three times at the New York Radio Festival – first in 2016 for the initial 5 part series, then in 2017 for the Paul Brady episode and in 2018 for the Peggy Seeger episode.
February 7th – Vocal Chords: Linda Buckley
Singer Iarla Ó Lionáird explores the global phenomenon of the human voice and asks, why do we sing and what happens when we do? His guest in this special edition is the Cork born composer and former Lyric composer in residence, Linda Buckley, who comes from a family of singers and says she sings as she composes.
Her work is both experimental and innovative like her recent collaboration ‘Antarctica’ with piper David Power in the Kilkenny Arts Festival and in this special edition of Vocal Chords Iarla and Linda discuss their own collaboration ‘O Iochtar Mara’ which was performed by Crash Ensemble at the Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival in Cork
February 14th – Vocals Chords: Glen Hansard
In this edition of Vocal Chords presenter Iarla Ó Lionáird meets modern troubadour Glen Hansard, a singer with a guitar, and a mission, in the tradition of Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan. Glen Hansard’s vocal journey began as a young teenager busking on the streets of Dublin but it has taken him to some of the biggest arenas in the world and an academy award for best song in the film Once.
That film was inspired by Glen’s own busking life and he also got to play the lead role. His film work began in The Commitments while he was fronting his band The Frames and since then he has worked with his idols Bob Dylan and the late Leonard Cohen, as well as sharing a stage with international performers like Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Glen talks with Iarla about a life dedicated to music and shares a song, Didn’t He Ramble, written after the death of his father.
February 21st – Vocal Chords: In Conversation with Peggy Seeger.
Iarla Ó Lionáird meets fellow singer and songwriter Peggy Seeger, and shares a conversation that ranges from Donald Trump’s America to the story behind the song ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, written for Peggy by the man who later became her husband, the iconic singer and writer, Ewan McColl.
Seeger’s roots are in American folk music. Her parents were composers and song collectors, her brothers Pete and Mike Seeger were also singers, and she spent over 30 years collaborating with McColl who died in 1989. Peggy’s now 85 and still singing, writing and performing.
February 28th : Vocal Chords: Iarla Ó Lionáird and Veronica Dunne
Iarla’s guest in this edition of Vocal Chords is the singer and vocal coach Veronica Dunne who celebrated her 90th birthday in 2017. In this extended interview at her home she traces her life in song back to her childhood, when singing competed with horses for her attention. Following her debut as Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme at Covent Gardenin 1952, she went to Rome to study and train as a bel canto opera singer.
During her in Rome and in London at the Royal Opera, she met the stars of her age, including Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland. From the early 1960s Dunne turned from singing and performance to teaching and across the last fifty five years she has been the force behind a generation of vocal talent including Ann Murray, Celine Byrne and more recently Tara Erraught. Veronica Dunne also established the celebrated Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition.