Sinking my Teeth Into Music at NUIG With a Four Part Music Trail

Paul Roe Clarinet.jpg

Arriving with a 6 year old to this occasion of musical enchantment possibly wasn’t the best idea I have ever had even though he was as-good-as-gold throughout. It is scheduled to start in NUIG’s Marine Science building and so me and my boy, Konrad, use our pre-show time to explore the delightful museum that the ground floor houses. Housed in display cabinets, there are a multitude of skulls and skeletons of monkeys, alligators, and even a hippo. There are lizards and snakes preserved in jars of some kind of liquid, and various taxidermied animals that make for a marvellous sense of wonderment to the unspoilt innocence of childhood.

When the musical performers and other spectators arrive I learn, by way of announcement by the charmingly elegant curator of the event, Jane O’Leary, that the first performance, Paul Roe, is playing a clarinet piece by Ed Benett (a silly part of me that has watched far too much Only Fools and Horses wonders if he was related to Gordon) called Monster. My six year old laughs-out-loud at this and asks, “Did she just say Monster?”

“She did,” I say, then urge him, “but now you must be quiet during the performance.”

“Okay,” he assures me, but while I’m hopeful, I’m not entirely convinced.

I snap one or two photos of Mr Paul Roe but feel very self-conscious about the snapping sound the shutter makes and so decide to make videos of the performances instead. All is going well until my boy shakes my arm and asks, “Daddy?” Just in case he needs to go to the loo, I decide we need to step outside and I feel most apologetic for us having to manoeuvre our way out through the entranced looking spectators.

We are outside and I ask my wee gentleman, “Do you need to go to the toilet?”

“No,” he says, “let’s go back in.”

I explain that we can’t go back in because we might be disturbing people’s enjoyment by squeezing past them and they might not like that and that we may have disturbed them too much already.

“But people were smiling at me,” he protests, with a look of confusion, “and anyway, we could easily get back in by going through those two guys inside the door.” While his logic is sound, I manage to convince him that it’s better to stay outside.

The next part of the performance is  The Galway Contempo Quartet whose Twitter profile describes them as the ABBA of classical music. They are playing at the entrance to the James Hardiman library. Just to be sure that we don’t disturb the musicians or anyone else, I bring my boy up a flight of stairs to observe the show from the top of them which is about as far away as we can get and still see. All goes quite well on this occasion and I instruct my young gentleman to close his eyes and focus on the music.

On the way to the third part of the show, I attempt to strike up a conversation with another photographer in attendance who I had spoken to earlier and told that I was covering the event for my blog. I tell him that I only took one or two photos as I didn’t want to disturb the performance with the sound of my shutter snapping.

“I don’t have that problem,” he says.

“Why not?” I enquire.

“Because I’m being paid by the university to be here unlike you who is just doing a….freebie,” he says.

The third part of the show is in Aras na Gaeilge and involves the spoken word, by actress Grace Kiely, alongside Mr Roe who was part of the first show. At some point during this, my boy starts whispering that he’s hungry and wants to go and get something to eat. I assure him that we will go after this and think that it’s probably best to skip the fourth performance.

Outside, I say, “So, will we skip the next performance then?”

“No,” he insists, “let’s just go for a little bit at the start and then go.”

“We can’t do that,” I explain, “we either go for the full show or none of it.”

“No,” he insists, “let’s just go for a little bit.”

I decide that maybe he’s right and elect to stay at the very back of the room near the door of the venue of the fourth part of the show which is in a room in the old part of the college known as the Quadrangle. This is the second performance of the evening by The Galway Contempo Quartet and the piece is an excerpt from The Cranning.

On entering, my little charmer spots a basket of fruit and asks for an apple. I hand him one and he happily bites into it while I start making a video. Excellent, I think, that will satisfy his hunger and he’ll be quiet for a few minutes. He is quiet for approximately five minutes and then quietly cries “Daddy” and tugs at my shirt as a stream of blood trickles from his lips. Time to leave, I realise.

Outside I see his one of his baby rabbit teeth has become half-dislodged from biting into the apple, but he’s cheerful enough and I praise him for being a great boy throughout the performances.

“It was really good fun, wasn’t it?” he says, “especially the monkeys and stuff.”

I laugh and say, “You’re the best boy in the world!” and I mean it wholeheartedly.

As you can probably tell, my attention wasn’t entirely focused on the performances. But I hope to visit such shows by The Galway Music Residency again and next time I will fly solo so as to be able to give my full attention to them.

I believe it is music that one really needs to sink one’s teeth into.



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