Details of the diverse programme of events to celebrate the opening of Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, have been released.
In total, fifteen events spanning music, theatre, poetry, song, reading and talks will take place across four days (Friday 30 September – Monday 3 October) in the new arts and literary centre, all celebrating the poems, prose, theatre and life of Seamus Heaney, and involving leading poets, musicians and actors.
The weekend includes three specially commissioned pieces of music and theatre, beginning with a world premiere on Friday 30 September when a nine-piece ensemble of globally-renowned traditional musicians arrive in Bellaghy from Eastern Europe, America, Greece, Scotland, Japan and Ireland - cultures and countries that have been closely associated with Seamus Heaney’s life and work - to perform ‘Lifecycle’.
From one musical highlight to another on the same evening, the pre-eminent singer and songwriter, Paul Brady, gives a very special performance in the first of a series of concerts The Home Key which will take place across the opening year.
On Saturday evening (1 October), attention turns to drama for a re-telling of the gripping story of the larger-than-life Beowulf, as translated by Seamus Heaney, and presented by Tron Theatre group, with the award-winning Lynne Parker directing a cast of three women and featuring the original soundscape by Denis Clohessy.
Sunday evening brings a truly unique musical experience to audiences when internationally acclaimed cellist, Christina Poltéra, plays the famous 300-year-old cello ‘Mara’ for a performance of Bach’s first three cello suites.
The recital, entitled Bach to Broagh, will be intercut with readings of Seamus Heaney’s poems, including In Time, the last poem he wrote in August 2013, while listening to the music of Bach at the Proms.
The weekend’s inaugural poetry reading will bring together Michael Longley and Sinéad Morrissey, and two special discussions will see Tom Paulin, Christopher Reid and Julie O’Callaghan Remembering Seamus on Saturday 1 October, followed by Pater Fallon, Olivia O’Leary and John Horgan on Sunday 2 October.
Other weekend highlights include The Wild Dog Rose, combining the talents of The Chieftain’s Paddy Maloney and Tríona Marshall with the poet John Montague, and readings from All Through The Night, a new anthology of night poems and lullabies edited by Marie Heaney.
Readers will include Marie Heaney, Gerald Dawe and Michael Longley with performances by Bronagh Gallagher and Iaona Petcu Colan.
Closing the celebrations is a performance of The Burial at Thebes by the Magherafelt-based Off The Cuff Theatre Group, setting their production of Seamus Heaney’s play in a Northern Ireland city.
The celebratory opening weekend is also a prelude to the year-long artistic programme, ‘12 Months, 12 Books’, based on the 12 original volumes of Seamus Heaney’s poetry and beginning with Death of a Naturalist in October 2016, and finishing with Human Chain in September 2017.
The core feature of HomePlace is a permanent exhibition about the life and literature of Seamus Heaney, arranged over two floors and filled with personal stories and artefacts, dozens of family photographs, video recordings from friends, neighbours, world leaders, cultural figures, and the voice of the poet himself reading his own words. The exhibition is interactive using the latest touch screen, video and audio technology and includes a recreation of the poet’s Dublin study.
For full programme details and to book, call the Seamus Heaney HomePlace box office on 028 7938 7444 or visit www.seamusheaneyhome.com/whatson.