Multi-talented Derry/Londonderry musician Marty Coyle will work with artists in India over the next few years to explore and unite the music of Rajasthan and Ireland.
Together with Paul Brown, Festival Director, Earagail Arts Festival, the city’s former musician in residence will work alongside musicians from the Jodphur Rajasthan International Folk (RIFF) Festival to create a new touring show – Citadels of the Sun – having secured funding through the British Council.
The project, which will bring together 60 minutes of music, is based on narrative around two forts - An Grianan of Aileach in Donegal and Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India, uniting a fusion of Irish and Rajasthani folk music, while showcasing the best of both musical styles. It will feature an impressive array of musicians, using instruments including the Irish Bouzouki, Donegal Fiddle, and tin whistle, alongside the Sarangi (Indian string instrument) and Dholak (a two-headed drum).
Speaking about the Citadel of the Sun, Marty said: “I was pretty nervous taking on this project at the start, as it’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also been the most rewarding. I had never worked with Rajasthani musicians before, but we clicked immediately and now get on well – they’re like family.
“Our main challenge is how can we mix the two styles of music and make them work – one is kind of regimented and works within a western structure, and the other is so free - so that is the challenge compositionally. Rajasthani music is very much to do with emotion, feel and time of day, it’s quite intense and it’s almost like they are bearing their soul.”
Marty’s project is funded through The British Council’s India-Northern Ireland Connections Through Culture grant scheme, which over three years, supports artistic collaboration and exchange between creative professionals and arts organisations in Northern Ireland and India. His project builds on previous work between Earagail Arts Festival and the Jodphur RIFF festival in 2019.
Marty said: “The collaboration began over 18 months ago, through Paul from Earagail Arts and Divya Bhatia, the Director of RIFF festival, with live performances both in Donegal and Rajasthan. This funding by the British Council has allowed us to develop the collaboration further – with this first year around research and development – looking into both styles of music - while years two and three will concentrate on production and festivals touring. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, we haven’t been able to spend any time out there, but we hope to be able to tour the show at some point, and also get into the studio and get a record together. We have been lucky in that we work well remotely, and for now, can just send music back and forth.”
This project is one of five from across Northern Ireland to receive funding through the British Council’s India-Northern Ireland Connections Through Culture grant scheme. They are joined by Derry’s electronic music festival, Celtronic, who have partnered with New Delhi online radio station Boxout.fm to create new music and showcase up-and-coming electronic artists.
Speaking about the fund, Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland said: “We are delighted to have two Derry/Londonderry organisations represented in our new India-Northern Ireland Connections Through Culture scheme. We received some amazing applications and are excited to see the development and outcome of the successful projects. We aim through these grants to strengthen the creative sector between India and Northern Ireland and look forward to helping organisations in both countries connect, create and collaborate over the coming years.”
India-Northern Ireland Connection Through Culture Grants continue the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Northern Ireland visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook or Instagram.