2023 Festival Programme

Welcome to the 3rd

Limerick Early Music Festival!

(Click here to jump to the concert listings.)

This year’s theme, Woods so Wild, is a journey through the musical forest of plucked instruments: guitar, lute, harp, and harpsichord, as well as our continued dedication to vocal music.

Roots grow strong and wide across early music’s forest floor. Several of our weekend’s offerings show the geographical and chronological breadth of what can be considered early music: works for lute from early Renaissance Poland, Romantic-era solo guitar music, and music for harpsichords as early as the Medieval period. These unique instruments bring the wood of forest-bound trees to life. LEMF’s opening concert Roots and Branches: The Bach Family Tree with local choral partners Ancór and Sagittarius Hiberniensis solidifies a now-annual tradition of Bach cantatas.

These early musical roots nourish the branches of contemporary musical repertoire, such as what LEMF audiences will enjoy at the lunchtime concerts Fantangled and Dialogues. These musical fruits are fed by that vital sap that rises up through the great, strong trunk of the historically informed tree. The flowers of this tree often cross-pollinate with other traditions, such as Irish music, to which our final concert featuring music of the early Irish harpers bears witness.

Over three days, LEMF 2023 features a diverse line-up of local, national, and international artists who bring you music and dance from varied styles, traditions, and time periods. As a first for LEMF, the programme will feature works composed by musicians close to home and further afield. We are especially excited to welcome several composers who will be present for the Irish premieres of their works! 

For LEMF 2023—after a fully online first festival and a hybrid second year—we will be holding an entirely in-person festival. We realise that this means some of our most dedicated supporters may not be able to see and hear our artists during the same week as the festival. We value our long-distance supporters and those unable to travel to us, and rest assured: we will be doing our best to bring you the best of LEMF 2023 in the weeks and months to follow! Please contact us if you have any questions about our online presence.

Finally, we are excited to continue our relationship with St Mary’s Cathedral for our opening concert Friday night. We are thrilled to embark upon a new relationship with Belltable, which will be home for all events Saturday and Sunday, and whose foyer will be the LEMF festival hub throughout the weekend.

We invite you to wander with us in these 
Woods so Wild!

A quote from the Hebrew psalm in the harpsichord motto: “Thus shall all the trees of the forest rejoice (Ps. 96:12)”

Yonit Kosovske & Vlad Smishkewych
festival directors

Please Note:
All events are GMT+0 (Dublin/London)

€120 regular/€90 concession
How does it work? Simply click the ‘Buy Tickets’ link below, and select a ticket and seat for each LEMF event (all must be the same ticket type). When you check out, the discount is automatically applied before payment. You’ll receive a separate ticket for each event. It’s that simple!

8pm St. Mary’s Cathedral

ROOTS & BRANCHES: The Bach Family Tree

Ancór Choir, Sagittarius Hiberniensis Choir, St Mary’s Cathedral Choir, LEMF Orchestra

Directed by Peter Barley & Cecilia Madden

Although we often place Johann Sebastian Bach at the pinnacle of the Bach musical family tree, he inherited a long line of musical tradition that spanned back to the early 17th century. In this concert, three of Limerick’s finest vocal ensembles — Ancór, Sagittarius Hiberniensis, and St Mary’s Cathedral Choir — combine forces onstage to present several works of this admirable lineage. They are joined by LEMF’s Festival Orchestra and led by Cecilia Madden and Peter Barley. These ensembles will present cantatas by JS Bach intertwined with sonorous motets by several of his forebears, including Johann (the “Erfurt”) Bach, Johann Christoph, and Johann Michael Bach.

1 pm Belltable Arts Centre

FANTANGLED: Baroque & Contemporary Dance Music

Bogdan Sofei, violin
Yovanna Torres Blanco, dance
Rachel Factor, Asako Hirabayashi & Yonit Kosovske, harpsichords
Vlad Smishkewych, castanets

Works for harpsichord by contemporary composers Asako Hirabayashi, Edwin McLean, and Sheli Nan explore the affinity between modern melody and historic dance forms in a programme that proves that dance is never far from the surface in new or early music. The Ibero-American fandango and tango— which owe a debt of ancestry to dances and ceremonies brought to Europe and the Americas by enslaved people from Africa—share the spotlight in this concert. Also included are Scherzo and Street Music by the award-winning Hirabayashi, who appears as a special guest performing several of her own pieces. Three virtuoso harpsichordists are joined onstage by the ConTempo Quartet’s renowned violinist Bogdan Sofei and award-winning dancer Yovanna Torres Blanco. The performance is crowned by two audience favourites: a new arrangement for two harpsichords by Malachy Robinson of Astor Piazzola’s Libertango and Boccherini’s Fandango as the concert finale.

4pm Belltable Arts Centre

POLONICA: Lute Music with Polish Connections (c1600)

Michał Gondko, lute

In addition to the works attributed to the lutenists active at the Royal Polish court in the late sixteenth century, there is a substantial repertoire of compositions identified as ‘Polish dances’ or ‘Polish songs’ which have been preserved in numerous sources of late Renaissance lute music. Characterized by an irresistible melodic charm and a straightforward harmonic and rhythmic texture, such musical polonica spread throughout Europe, achieving what might have been the widest distribution of musical ‘Polishness’ before Chopin.

8pm Belltable Arts Centre

TOY STORY: Keyboard music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Corina Marti, harpsichord and clavisimbalum

Long before keyboards were used to help humans interact with electronic devices, they were being used to harness the power of wind and strings to create sound. So effective was this way of making music, and so long was its history and development, that some of the arguably greatest works ever to be composed were conceived for (or upon) keyboard instruments. Nowadays, the magnificence of the post-1600 canonic works—such as Bach’s Preludes and Fugues, Beethoven’s Sonatas, or Chopin’s Preludes—tend to overshadow what comes before, but there was a rich history of repertoire and wide range of instruments predating what we are familiar with today. In this programme, Corina Marti explores a wealth of early European keyboard music and provides a magical glimpse into a highly virtuosic world, playing upon a metal-strung medieval clavisimbalum and an early Baroque Italian harpsichord inspired by the 17th century.

1pm Belltable Arts Centre

DIALOGUES: Creative Conversations Between Old and New


Fiona Linnane, director
Triona Walsh, soprano
Valerie Gunning, violin
Roisin McMullin, viola
Markus Kraeber, saxophones/clarinets
Darren Murphy, guitar
Aoife Chawke, piano & harpsichord

Limerick New Music Ensemble (formerly CoMA Limerick) presents a programme of new and existing works reflecting on early music and its relationship with the contemporary canon. Taking its name from Vincenzo Galilei’s 16th-century treatise Dialogo della musica antica et della moderna, (‘Dialogue regarding ancient and modern music’), this concert will premiere new pieces composed by members of the ensemble in collaboration with H.I.P.S.T.E.R. and the Limerick Early Music Festival, exploring aspects of early music. Directed by Fiona Linnane and featuring guest artist Yonit Kosovske on harpsichord, the ensemble will bring their usual blend of eclecticism, whimsy and musical diversity for their inaugural LEMF performance.

2pm Belltable Arts Centre Foyer


Asako Hirabayashi, Fiona Linnane, Edwin McLean, and members of LNME 


Audience members are warmly invited to the Belltable foyer to meet composers Asako Hirabayashi, Edwin McLean, Fiona Linnane, and members of LNME immediately following the concert DIALOGUES: Creative Conversations Between Old and New.

4pm Belltable Arts Centre


Enrica Savigni, historical guitar

This recital for the 19th-century guitar presents musical works from the first half of the nineteenth century written by the most influential composers for the instrument. The programme is a journey through the mastery of Fernando Sor, the brilliant virtuosity of Mauro Giuliani, and the Romantic inspirations of Johann Kaspar Mertz. Enrica Savigni will perform on an original Anton Stauffer Viennese guitar (1831) and an Hijos de Gonzalez Spanish guitar (1870).

8pm Belltable Arts Centre

CEOL ÁRSA CLÁIRSÍ – Tunes of the Irish Harpers

Siobhán Armstrong, historical harps
Cormac Breatnach, whistles
Steve Cooney, guitars
Eamon Sweeney, chitarra battente/bandora

Our third Limerick Early Music Festival closes with a very special concert of music and poetry featuring some of Ireland’s most respected musicians in Traditional Irish and Early Music styles. The evening’s music will consist of beautiful and haunting tunes by Irish Harpers from the 17th and 18th centuries, taken from original sources and played on historical and modern instruments—early Irish harp, lute, bandora, guitars, and Susato whistle—recreating the historic sound world of the Irish Baroque era and blending it sensitively with traditional instruments.

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