The guys enjoy a year-round schedule of engagements from high-profile to low, including performing for the president of Ireland at Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin, national and international TV coverage, jingle recordings for radio stations including RTE, international competitions and festival performances. They are especially known for their antics every year at the RDS Horse Show.
Recent releases include the album ‘Hide and Seek’ ('Album of the Week', Aug 2015, lyric fm). Their varied style covers everything from classical music to traditional, pop and rock. Their arrangements are written in-house by Eoin, who puts the group’s unique stamp on everything they perform.
Irish vocal harmony quartet 4 in a Bar presents a programme of music from the native land. Musically, it takes in a little bit of everything, from Ireland's greatest classical composers to its most famous popular songwriters, old folk songs, brand new compositions, even a ceili band!
From the beginning, with the famous Dublin song Molly Malone — which turns out to be not as Irish as you might think — familiar songs are reimagined, and not all is as it appears.
We turn next to the songs of Thomas Moore (1779 - 1852), in arrangements by the Dublin-born Charles Stanford (1852 - 1924). Both men have had changing reputations over the years. Moore was a superstar in his time, and his lyrics came to define an image of Ireland, but his work fell sharply out of favour after his death. Stanford was widely respected in his own time but his dual Irish / unionist identity affected his reception in both countries.
W.B. Yeats wrote of similarly complicated loyalties in his poem An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, reflecting the thoughts of one of those many Irishmen who fought for the British army in the First World War. Sean Doherty, a native of Derry, has composed for us a thrilling new setting of that poem, just in time for the Yeats centenary.
One of the programme’s themes is what if? What if our most ancient music had been written in harmony, like other European early music? It may have turned out a little like the music of Michael McGlynn, who is represented here with his pieces O Pia Virgo and the world-famous Dúlamán. What if the traditional practice of “lilting” an air had come to include not only the tune, but also the accompanying instruments in the band? Then we might have had a uniquely Irish form of a cappella singing, imagined here in a spirited arrangement of the traditional jig Queen of the Rushes.
When the barbershop harmony craze took off in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century, quartets harmonised the popular American songs of the day. Barbershop didn’t arrive on our shores until the 1980s, but what if it made it over here sooner? Which Irish songs and ballads might you have heard outside the windows of the gruagóir as you strolled down O’Connell street in 1910? We have a couple of suggestions…
Molly Malone (Traditional air, arranged by Eoin Conway)
Six Irish Folksongs Op. 78 (C. V. Stanford)
- 1. Oh! Breathe Not His Name.
- 3. At the Mid-Hour of Night
- 4. The Sword of Erin
- 5. It is Not the Tear
The Last Rose of Summer (Thomas Moore. Trad. arr. E. Conway)
Dúlamán (Michael McGlynn)
O Pia Virgo (M. McGlynn)
Down by the Salley Gardens (W. B. Yeats. Trad. arr. E. Conway)
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death (W. B. Yeats. Music: Seán Doherty)
*Commissioned by 4 in a Bar, 2017.
Love's Old Sweet Song (J. L. Molloy)
Macushla (Josephine Rowe. Music: Dermot McMurrough)
Queen of the Rushes (trad. arr. E. Conway)
Nocturne no. 5, H37 (John Field, arr. E. Conway)
Moondance (Van Morrison, arr. Marshall Webb)
Stuck in a Moment (U2/Bono, arr. E. Conway)
The Parting Glass (trad. arr. E. Conway)