Ómos do Frankie Kennedy

‘Omós do Frankie Kennedy’ for Flute and Guitar (2006) – 10’

Programme Note

Frankie Kennedy was one of Ireland’s finest traditional flautists. He was a founder member of the internationally acclaimed group Altan and performed with them up until his untimely death in 1994. Following his death, Altan and some of their colleagues instigated an annual music festival in his honour, the Frankie Kennedy Winter School.

I first attended this festival in 2001 and attended almost each one until the last one in 2014. I can safely say that without this festival my own musical path would be a very different one. The festival helped cultivate the passion I now have for traditional Irish music, so in many respects even though I never met Frankie Kennedy or heard him play live, I owe a lot to him.

So with this piece for flute and guitar I hope to do my part in paying tribute to one of the greatest musicians Ireland has produced and to the legacy he left us in the shape of his recordings with Altan and for the Frankie Kennedy Winter School in Bunbeg, Donegal.

One only has to listen to his haunting recording of the Tommy Peoples air ‘An Feochán’ to realise what a unique talent he was. Indeed it is this performance which convinced me that in order to pay tribute to him I should not try to imitate him. So this piece really sounds nothing like him or his group Altan. Rather I pay tribute to him by creating a virtuoso showpiece for concert flute with guitar accompaniment which often uses the rhythm of his name as inspiration rather than his style of playing.

There is a strong jazz influence on the piece, particularly in the guitar accompaniment and towards the end it gets very jazzy with some improvisation encouraged. Overall it is intended to be a tribute to Frankie Kennedy, a great musician who gave so much joy to all who knew or heard him.

The piece is a continuous suite in 6 movements all based on traditional Irish music forms;

I. Air; II. Strathspey; III. Slide; IV. Slip Jig; V. Reel No1; VI. Reel No2

All the music is newly composed, so there are no traditional melodies in the piece.

The piece was premiered by Aisling Agnew and I in Cabinteely Park House, Dublin, 2006. 

It has been recorded by Eimear McGeown and I on the album Shadowplay.


Premiered by Aisling Agnew (flute) and Dave Flynn
(guitar). June 2006, Cabinteely Park House, Dublin.