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Clare Champion Review

Maurice Takes On Brian Boru

Brian Boru: The High King Of Tara sees Maurice Lennon embarking on his most ambitious project to date. A musical portrait of the tenth century Clareman, Lennon's suite captures the passion, the terror, sheer villainy and epic heroism of the times with the ease audiences have come to expect from this most understated of fiddlers and composers.

Though he is a native of Sligo, Maurice Lennon spent a number of years in Ennis and was a longtime member of Stockton's Wing, a phenomenally successful band in the eighties. Music, of course, is in his blood for he is nephew of Charlie Lennon and flag-bearer for the tradition in Leitrim.

He began playing traditional music at the age of thirteen and, four years later, was senior All-Ireland Champion, following in the footsteps of such great players as Clareman, Seamus Connolly, Brendan McGlinchy and Liz Carroll. His successors to the title included Desi Donnelly, Eileen Ivers and another Clareman, Martin Hayes.

As a co-founder of Stockton's Wing, he shared the stage with such world-renowned artists as Frank Sinatra, Stephane Grapelli and Michael Jackson. Since departing the band, he has concentrated on developing his first love of composing music and writing lyrics. His recent compositions have featured on Daniel O'Donnell's Greatest Hits album and were performed by the Nova Scotia Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Louisiana choir.

His most successful composition to date, 'If Ever You Were Mine', has been recorded by Cherish the Ladies and Natalie McMaster. Working with such diverse producers as Bill Whelan, John Ryan, Shaun Davey, P.J. Curtis, Steve Cooney and now with Donal Lunny, Maurice is setting his sights on working as a producer in his own right.

Performance is still an integral part of Maurice's music. In recent years, he has performed as a special guest musician with singer Sean Keane, with whom he toured Ireland and the world. In the summer of 2001, he was approached by the Ragus group from the Aran Islands to produce their new album and become the musical advisor. This music developed into a successful live show which had a two month sell-out in Dublin's premier venue. Vicar Street.

As for his new work, historical accuracy is a lynchpin of Brian Boru, painstakingly retracing key events such as the burning of Boruma, a ring fort on the west bank of the Shannon near present day Killaloe, and the gathering of the Dal gCais.

In addition to Maurice Lennon, the players on this album include Máirtín O'Connor on accordion and Anthony Drennan on guitar. Donal Lunny rows in with bouzouki, bodhrán, guitar, keyboards and vocals while Brian Lennon is on flute and whistle and Sean Keane looks after the vocals.

editor@clarechampion.ie