Photo: Courtesy of John Soffe Photography

AN Earagail Arts Festival & Regional Cultural Centre commission premiered in Donegal this summer is to be performed in India next week.

A new music commission in partnership with India’s leading folk festival, Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival), connecting the hills of Donegal with the deserts of Rajasthan, Citadels of the Sun was a major highlight of this year’s Earagail Arts Festival.

Now the project, featuring the Carrigart multi-instrumentalist Sarah E Cullen (Donegal fiddle, keys, vocals), Paul Cutliffe (uilleann pipes, whistles) and led by musical director and bouzouki player Martin Coyle (Basork) travels to India, with the support of Culture Ireland.

Performing on the opening night at the Mehrangarh Fort, on Friday 11th October, the Irish musicians will be joined by their Rajasthani musical collaborators Asin Khan (sarangi player and vocialist of the Langa community) and Sawai Khan (percussionist and vocalist from the Manganiyar community)

Artistic Director & CEO of Earagail Arts Festival, Mr Paul Brown said: “Investing in new work which connects artists from Donegal to the rest of the world has always played a very important part in the festival’s remit.

“A part of the success of EAF in recent years has been the commissioning of collaborative projects such as Fidil with the late Senegalese kora player Solo Cissokho, and The Henry Girls with West Virginia’s The Fox Hunt.

“Such projects celebrate cultural diversity in connecting artists from Donegal to others from around the world and have gone on to tour internationally.

“As ambassadors for Donegal and Ireland abroad they play a huge part in bringing Donegal to new global audiences and potential new tourist visitors, breaking down cultural and social barriers between communities here in Ireland and importantly creating career development opportunities for the Irish artists involved.

“The inspiration for this project has come about over 3 years planning and was inspired by the Mehrangarh Fort in India’s famed blue city of Jodhpur. I met the festival director Divya Bhatia in Glasgow a number of years ago to discuss a project that would connect the music of Donegal and Rajasthan.

“Having visited Jodhpur as a guest of the festival, I was inspired by the symmetry and synergy between Rajasthani and Irish folk music, particularly through the themes in the songs and the acoustic instrumentation. Learning about the Mehrangarh fort I also found a connection to Donegal’s own iconic citadel of the sun – An Grianán Aileach, as places both so rich in history but also in spiritual importance to the people of their respective localities. “

“Unlike some other collaborations this commission is an entirely new composition of 5 movements, following the trajectory of the sun and each one is inspired by the folklore of Ireland and India.”

“The support of the Arts Council, Donegal County Council and our partners the Regional Cultural Centre, Culture Ireland, Failte Ireland, all our funders, sponsors and most of all – the people of Donegal – is central to the ongoing success of these unique projects.

“Citadels of The Sun is a coming together of diverse but connected voices, uniting Irish and Indian culture, the result of which is a sound that transcends and braves new territories in music.”