Northern Ireland Opera’s new series of ‘Northern Songs’ showcases landmarks across NI, from Marble Arch Caves to Ballintoy

Filming Northern Songs 2 at Enniskillen Castle

Northern Ireland Opera’s ‘Northern Songs’ Series 2 celebrates songs by composers from across the island of Ireland, performed in some of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful and historic locations.

Launched in May 2021, this series features six opera singers: sopranos Catherine Donnelly and Susie Gibbons, mezzo-soprano Margaret Bridge, tenors John Porter and Andrew Irwin and bass baritone David Howes, all winners or finalists of our annual Glenarm Festival of Voice. They have worked with Northern Ireland Opera to create eight spectacular short films directed by Marty Stalker and produced by Causeway Pictures.

Locations featured include Enniskillen Castle, Marble Arch Caves, Ballintoy Harbour, the OM Dark Sky Park, Beaghmore Stone Circles, the Ulster American Folk Park, Armagh Robinson Library, the Armagh Cider Company and Belfast’s Maritime Mile.  As well as art songs, this series also features contemporary songs by Neil Hannon of ‘The Divine Comedy’ and by Duke Special as well as a traditional duet in Irish arranged by composer Neil Martin.  All performances are accompanied by pianist Ruth McGinley and sound recorded by Andrew Simon McAllister.

Series 1 has been viewed widely and has been shared as part of the NI Bureau in Washington’s official St Patrick’s Day event, at the Melbourne Celtic Festival and at the recent NI Expo event for North America. For Series 2 we have developed the concept of Northern Songs further, with drone camerawork for every film providing dramatic and unusual perspectives on some of Northern Ireland’s iconic locations, and by including songs by contemporary composers of the calibre of Neil Hannon, Duke Special and Neil Martin we feel sure that this new series will inspire and showcase Northern Ireland to an even wider audience.

The Northern Songs concept was designed to show people across this island and beyond the wealth of culture, talent and world-class locations available to visit once the current public health crisis has abated and we hope those days are now much closer.

Tenor John Porter and mezzo Margaret Bridge filming Northern Songs series 2 at Ballintoy Harbour

You can watch series 2 of ‘Northern Songs’ each Thursday at 8pm on our YouTube channel, This Thursday’s film features tenor Andrew Irwin singing ‘The Bard of Armagh’ by Herbert Hughes, filmed in and around the Georgian Mall and the Armagh Robinson Library in County Armagh.

Jo Wright, Arts Development Officer for Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to see Northern Ireland Opera release a second series of Northern Songs, supported by National Lottery funding.  This is a truly special initiative which beautifully fuses vocal performances with scenic places across Northern Ireland. It breathes fresh life into some of our most-treasured songs, performed by some of our most talented singers and musicians.  We very much look forward to enjoying the second series of wonderful musical moments in the weeks and months ahead.”

Chris Patterson, Causeway Pictures said, “Causeway are really excited to continue our partnership with Northern Ireland Opera, Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland. Following on from series one, this new series showcases some of Northern Ireland’s premier tourism, locations coupled with some beautifully performed songs. We can’t wait to show them off.”

Shane Clarke, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Corporate Services, Policy and Northern Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland was delighted to support the production of Northern Ireland Opera’s YouTube videos – which showcase our talented musicians, as well as our wonderful scenery and world-class visitor attractions. In 2020, Tourism Ireland shared the videos from Series 1 of ‘Northern Songs’, as part of our global social campaign, #FillYourHeartWithIreland. This campaign has achieved excellent engagement with our fans and followers and has included a significant focus on culture, bringing online concerts and performances to our international audience at a time when it is not possible for people to travel here. In rolling out our #FillYourHeartWithIreland campaign, our aim is to bring the best of Northern Ireland onto people’s screens and to help ensure that Northern Ireland stays ‘front-of-mind’ with prospective visitors for future holidays.”

Naomi Waite, Tourism NI Marketing Director added: “We are delighted to once again support Northern Ireland Opera as they launch the second series of ‘Northern Songs’, bringing to life some of the most iconic sites across Northern Ireland through the exceptional talent of our local singers and composers. Series 1 has been a huge success, immersing viewers from across the world in the rich history, culture and awe-inspiring landscapes of Northern Ireland. We look forward to this next series and continued opportunities to support the arts community in Northern Ireland, like this project that truly tells the story of our giant spirit.”

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