Limerick Early Music Festival – An unforgettable journey across music and time

Vanessa Paloma Elbaz, Zaki Chaabi, and Mustafa El Meknassi, will perform Moroccan Nuba and Gharnati.

LIMERICK Early Music Festival takes place from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23 March with this year’s theme being ‘Journeys’, be it pilgrims to holy places, an epic trip a young Bach took to see a favourite musician or the music which arose from encounters between cultures across Spain and North Africa. 

Across three days, leading international exponents of Early Music will bring Limerick City concertgoers on an extraordinary musical adventure for the ears, the imagination, and the soul.

A taste of the Festival comes with Renaissance Music in Costume at The Milk Market, Limerick city centre Saturday 23 March from 10am to 12 noon. The sounds of the recorder, pipe-and-tabor, and early and traditional folk instruments, played by Ukrainian multi-instrumentalists Vsevolod Sadovyj and Snezhana Rybal’skaya, will swirl amidst the stalls of the Saturday morning market to accompany costume-clad lads and lasses. 

A different kind of journey will be commemorated at 8pm on Friday March 22 in Journeying With Bach at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. 

In 1705, a 20-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach walked 250 miles to see a performance by Dietrich Buxtehude, the renowned organist of Lubeck. This concert, which has by now become an annual tradition on LEMF’s billing, will see Ancór, St Mary’s Cathedral Choir, Sagittarius Hiberniensis, and LEMF orchestra and vocal soloists perform music by Buxtehude and Heinrich Schütz, along with two Bach cantatas.

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Limerick Early Music Festival concludes on Saturday 23 March at 8pm with The Fragrant Garden: from al-Andalus to North Africa in Saint Joseph’s Church, O’Connell Street.

Music and poetry from al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) continue to be played in cities throughout North Africa, having been conserved and transmitted through the centuries by Jewish and Muslim musicians who were expelled from Spain in the 1400s.

Limerick audiences will be transported to this golden age of Arabo-Andalusian culture, with Vanessa Paloma Elbaz, Zaki Chaabi, and Mustafa El Meknassi, performing Moroccan Nuba and Gharnati songs and Sephardi Andalusian liturgical poems and song—a fitting end for this three-day adventure across the diversity of Early Music.