Ardee Dances by Rachel Holstead

For Fiddle and Baroque Strings

Duration 17:00


Premiere: 25 November 2005.

Church of St Mary, Ardee, Co. Louth.


Gerry O’Connor (fiddle), Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin)

&  Irish Baroque Orchestra


Louth Co. Co. commissioned a piece of music written in the Baroque idiom which had its world premiere, performed by the Irish Baroque Orchestra with soloist Gerry O’Connor, during the Ardee Baroque Festival in late November 2005. A stipulation of the commission was that the piece should incorporate traditional Irish fiddle playing. This piece of music as part of the Per Cent for Art Scheme Relating to Sean O’Carroll Street Housing Phase II, Ardee



"The five movements of Ardee Dances follow the flow of the Ardee lanscapethrough the never ending cycle of ice-age, thaw and regrowth. Drawing on the languages of two contrasting styles of fiddling, each with it's own sense of time and place, the music moves from moments of stillness to wild dances. It's flow, like that of the landscape, is part of a larger dance which continues, unheard , long after the last note has sounded. The solo violin opens the work in a still prologue with hushed interjections from the ensemble and a tentative response from the fiddle at the close. The fiddle then leads the ensemble in the second and third movements, before the solo violin takes charge once again in the fourth. A meditative epilogue for fiddle and violin brings the work to a close."  Rachel Holstead , composer of Ardee Dances 



"Despite its clear-cut phrasing and the odd hint of a jig or a reel, this is essentially a cosmopolitan work that steers well clear of the portentous nationalism, derivative neo-classicalism or shallow commercialism that could so easliy have characterised it. In its slightly chromatic envoirnment both fiddler and period ensemble hold equal status as guests.... "

Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times Nov 30, 2005




Performed also


Nov. 29th, 2005  Church of Ireland, Roscarberry, West Cork

IBO ensemble as above 


24th March 2009 St Patrick's College , Dromcondra, Dublin

Recorded by the Contemporary Music Centre

Director Sarah Sexton & IBO  


27th April, 2016, Drogheda Arts Festival Highlanes Gallery 

Director Marja Gaynor Vln , Anita Vedres Vln, Aoife Ní Dhurnáin Vla, Aoife Nic Athlaoich Vcl, Malachy Robinson , Bass


4th May, 2016 The Bello, Portabello Dublin as part of re Kaleidiscope series 

Ensemble as above 





I am an Irish fiddle player, music producer and label owner of Lughnasa Music. Please check out on my projects page the various activities I am presently involved in;  these include performing, teaching, arranging and producing.


 A selection of CDs are available from the Store, including Lá Lugh, Skylark, Journeyman and all more recent projects on which I am working: Oirialla, Jig Away the Donkey and a live Duo album with longtime musical partner, Breton guitarist Gilles le Bigot .


The long awaited album Bilingua by Eithne Ní Uallacháin is now available at Gael Linn label. Please visit Eithne's website for lots of photos and details abouth Eithne's life and her music. 


Recent developments include the publication of Cathal McConnell's song collection "I Have Travelled this Country" and, in collaboration with Fintan Vallely, we have created a mixed media one hour concert presentation of Fintan's  "Companach", the definitive Encyclopedia of Irish Music.


I continue to play as guest musician with  the wonderful White Raven vocal trio  and the celebrated and highly successful veterans of the Irish folk music scene The Irish Rovers. Check out these activities under Projects. 


I also manage a business in Violin Restoration and Sales under O'Connor Violins.


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Taken whilst on tour in Germany with White Raven June 2013

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