RETURNING for its second outing, the upcoming Right Here, Right Now Festival aims to shine a light on local and national music, reimagining some very well known names and giving a bigger stage to some lesser known ones.
Taking place entirely within the confines of Cork Opera House over the June bank holiday weekend, the festival celebrates and showcases all that is good in Cork: music, culture and people.
Last year's inaugural edition put emerging acts like Jack O'Rourke and Anna Mitchell front and centre of proceedings and this year's festival takes things even one step further.
A specially curated headline concert on Saturday, June 2 will see the Frank & Walters, Marlene Enright and Ye Vagabonds perform on stage with the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra in a specially curated reimagining of their well-known works.
The following day, on June 3, the auditorium will be transformed into an intimate, 200 person venue with Iarla O Lionard, Steve Cooney and Greenshine performing at lunch time and Wallis Bird, John Blek, Jack O'Rourke and Anna Mitchell performing later that evening.
Ska stars the Service will bring things to a close at the official closing party later that night.
There is also a host of talks scheduled to take place under the #CorkLovesMusic banner.
For organisers Eibhlín Gleeson, CEO of Cork Opera House, and Edel Curtin of Coughlan's on Douglas Street, the festival represents a long-held ambition to showcase the very best that the city has to offer on the biggest stage.
Many of the acts involved would not normally have the opportunity to play venues of this size, while the Opera House is also lending its in-house concert orchestra to the artists to offer a different perspective on some well-known music.
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At its core, the festival remains a celebration of music, as Eibhlín explained.
She said: "Last year, in its first year, the festival arrived at a particular moment in time for Cork music. There was a number of artists who had released albums and who were really punching above their weight in terms of the success they were having with it.
"I felt that, as the CEO of Cork Opera House, it is important that we are accessible to those artists and all artists in the city. It is not often that we get to interact with artists in this particular genre because of the size of our stage and the limits that imposes."
Eibhlín reached out to Edel Curtin and her team at Coughlan's on Douglas Street. The intimate music venue has become etched in the framework of Cork's music scene in just a few short years, carving out a role for itself as an essential venue for newer and smaller acts looking to perform in front of audiences.
Eiblín continued: "Coughlan's are working at grassroots level with artists, curating and creating their own festival. They have established themselves as the backbone of music in Cork so with our venue and their ethos and expertise, we thought that we could make something really special happen."
In addition, the Opera House was able to provide its in-house concert orchestra for the performances. Established in October 2015, the orchestra is a key part of the in-house productions at the venue and will be used to reimagine well-known hits for the Frank & Walters, as well adding new dimensions to the Choice Prize-nominated album from Marlene Enright and the critically-lauded work of Ye Vagabonds.
Edel said it was a huge opportunity for Coughlan's and the acts they have supported over the years.
"We had spoken casually about it previously and then Eibhlín contacted directly about being involved in the programming. We were delighted. We love Coughlan's but it is such a small venue.
"We would love to see many of our acts on bigger stages - they deserve a bigger audience and a bigger stage - so it was amazing to be able to approach those acts and offer them that.
"It is a dream for a lot of musicians to play with a full orchestra and it is one that is seldom realised. So many musicians, when recording albums, can hear the orchestration in their heads but it never gets to be translated out so it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Last year's acts, including Anna Mitchell and Jack O'Rourke, were introduced to broader audiences because of their involvement in the festival.
With the full weight of the Opera House and the Arts Council behind them, the acts are now being marketed further afield, all of which is leading to bigger audiences.
It was a personal goal for Eibhlín when she took over at the helm of the Opera House in 2015 to open up the venue to more and more people - and this is part of that outreach. It doesn't end with Right Here, Right Now, though, she added.
"There is never a shortage of ambitions and objectives," she said.
"This festival is close to my heart - I am a musician myself - so it speaks to my roots. There is plenty of ambitious programming to come and, for Cork Opera House, it is a case of building on what is there already and continuing to support artsts in whatever way we can, as well as thinking about how accessible this builging is for people in Cork.
"It is really important that people feel that they have ownership of this place and that is important with everything we do, from Right Here, Right Now to the Wizard of Oz."
Tickets for Right Here, Right Now are on sale now, including a full day pass for all the Sunday events.
See www.corkoperahouse.ie or contact 021 427 0022 for full information.