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Galway Independent


Music at the heart of GIAF

Wednesday, 12th July, 2017 10:12am

One of the biggest names in music headlines the Big Top at the Galway International Arts Festival this year and his show is set to be one of the most memorable gigs in recent times.

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys will arrive in Galway with his 15-piece band, who will perform his legendary album Pet Sounds in its entirety, along with a greatest hits show of Beach Boys songs.

Speaking ahead of his European concerts, Brian Wilson said, “It’s really been a trip to sit here and think about releasing Pet Sounds 50 years ago. I love performing this album with my band and look forward to playing it for fans all across the world. The response from everyone has been amazing and that’s why we decided to come back and play Pet Sounds for one last time."

Galway International Arts Festival CEO John Crumlish said, “This is a dream gig for the festival. To have one of the greatest albums of all time performed live from start to finish by its creator at our 40th will be such a treat and will provide for a truly great festival evening."

In addition to the Beach Boys legend, other acts including Gavin James, Passenger, The Coronas, Jenny Greene with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra also take to the Absolut Big Top stage and there’s another opportunity to see the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at A Night at the Proms, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo in two fully-seated concerts at the Absolut Big Top.

A Night at the Proms

Under the baton of David Brophy, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra returns to the spectacular setting of the Absolut Big Top for A Night at the Proms, a much–loved music celebration around the world. A Pan American celebration of some of the finest and most colourful orchestral music from the American continent, from Rhapsody in Blue to Lambada via Fanfare for the Common Man and West Side Story. The concert also includes the World Premiere of a piano concerto Concierto en Blanco e Negro by Grammy Award–winning composer Claudia Montero.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The joyous and uplifting musical voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, referred to by Nelson Mandela as ‘South Africa’s cultural ambassadors’ marry the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their Zulu traditions to the sounds and sentiments of gospel music. The result is a musical and spiritual alchemy that has touched a worldwide audience ever since Paul Simon first introduced them to the world on his Graceland album. Awarded the prestigious Grammy Award on four previous occasions, Walking In The Footsteps Of Our Fathers, the band’s 35th album was nominated for Best World Music Album 2016 marking the group’s 17th Grammy nomination.

Songhee Pansori Lab

An award–winning singer who trained in the traditional Korean pansori vocal style, Songhee finds inspiration in Flamenco, the sounds of the Roma, and Korean shamanic music locally known as Gut. Songhee has broadened her traditional repertoire to include Korean contemporary music and reggae and now in her own unique style belts out soaring melodies, vivid trills, and moving narratives to deliver a very visual show with powerful percussion. She is an extraordinary voice and now a world music star.


Re–defining folk music, Lankum, this Dublin quartet has been drawing critical acclaim and new audiences since their ground–breaking appearance on BBC’s influential Later with Jools Holland. Fiddle, concertina, uilleann pipes, guitar and stunning vocal harmonies are the hallmark of Lankum [formerly known as Lynched].The release of their debut album Cold Old Fire was hailed by The Guardian as ‘The most exciting album of traditional Irish song in decades’.

Galway acts

A host of Galway acts are also getting to support the headline acts at this year’s festival. These include Daithí for Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra; Tracy Bruen for Lisa Hannigan; My Fellow Sponges for the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys; Anna Mullarkey for Wallis Bird; Steve Bennett for the West Cork Ukelele Orchestra; Elaine Mai for JFDR; Shuffle for The Soul Rebels and Grounds for Invasion for Overhead, The Albatross.

Connecting artists and


This year sees the 40th year of the festival and music has always been one of the backbones of the event, ever since its inception. Paul says, “Galway International Arts Festival has connected artists and audiences for four decades, creating many magical memories and making a huge impact on our lives. We are very grateful to all of the artists we have been privileged to have as our guests and collaborators, and to our audiences who have been so open and embracing to their talents and imagination.”

This year’s Galway International Arts Festival runs from 17 – 30 July. As well as the Big Top, other music events take place in the Róisín Dubh, Electric, Monroe’s Live and St Nicholas’ Church.

For the full music line-up see

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