Art in Action is a three-day arts and crafts festival held every June Bank Holiday Weekend. Top artists and craftspeople from many different disciplines are invited to set up studios, stalls and workshops to demonstrate their work and skills live. Over a hundred craft, fine, liberal and performing artists demonstrate and sell their art to the public. An extensive range of children and adult art classes are also available, all set in the lovely house and grounds of Townley Hall near Drogheda in County Louth, Ireland. Art in Action is affiliated to the John Scottus School.
Art in Action is organised and staffed by the School of Philosophy, an educational charity in Dublin (CHY 5791). Everyone who contributes to the organisation and staffing of the event does so entirely on a voluntary basis and without payment of any kind. This is at the core of the ethos of Art in Action and contributes to its unique atmosphere – about which both visitors and artists frequently comment.
A music session in full swing at Martin Doyle’s stand during Art in Action 2010.
Ludwig von Beethoven and Elizabeth Petcu – hearing loose a challenge, but not an impairment.
And what of the Elizabeth Petcu / Ludwig von Beethoven connection? Well, there appear to be common threads running through both lives. Sure they don’t share the same age, address, flute maker or historical gravitas, but they do share a passion for music – the universal language. Ludwig composed his own music of course, and Elizabeth has performed many of these creations over the span of her professional career.
They also share a similar adversity. Elizabeth Petcu suffers from a condition known as otosclerosis, which is the most common cause of progressive deafness in young adults. Some consider otosclerosis to be the most likely cause of Beethoven’s deafness. Whatever the case, it is well documented that Beethoven went on composing despite near complete deafness. In Elizabeth’s case too, when her hearing impediment forced her into retirement from the RTE, she has kept up with her practice and performs wherever she can with an enduring energy, cheerfulness and enthusiasm that is fuelled by a great love for sharing her gift of music with others. Composers must compose, performers must perform. Audiences, large or small, receive the fruit of this wonderful synthesis.
For over 25 years Elizabeth served as the principal flautist with Ireland’s RTÉ Concert Orchestra until a hearing problem (otosclerosis) sidelined her career. This from Elizabeth’s web site:
Irish flute player Elizabeth Petcu seeks new ways of exploring and presenting music and her debut solo album Just Me captures in essence Elizabeth’s true authentic sound through a brilliant interpretation of her favourite repertoire.
Particularly innovative is the use of the keyless wooden Irish flute for the Telemann pieces (tracks 3 and 4). The Liam Bates composition, Moth Manoeuvres (track 12), was commissioned by Helen Gaynor for her art exhibition in May 2007 — a project that was part-funded by the Wexford County Council Arts Department and the Arts Council. Elizabeth premiered Moth Manoeuvres at Newtownbarry House in Bunclody, County Wexford. Just Me also includes the music of Karg-Elert, Bach, Debussy and others.
Elizabeth Petcu playing a Martin Doyle simple system wooden (Irish) flute.
Arminta Wallace has recently published an article for the Irish times about Martin Doyle’s good friend Elizabeth Petcu who resides in the coastal town of Bray in the County Wicklow. For over 25 years Elizabeth served as the principal flautist with Ireland’s RTÉ Concert Orchestra until a hearing problem (otosclerosis) sidelined her career. Despite this impediment, Elizabeth has gone on to record a solo flute music album, Just Me, and has formed the inspirational music ensemble Rune with Martin Doyle (flutes) and Deborah Armstrong (piano). Here are two excerpts from Arminta Wallace’s article:
The ability to hear plays such a crucial role in making music that it’s almost impossible to imagine how a professional musician feels when they’ve been diagnosed with a condition called otosclerosis, or progressive deafness. “I’m in good company, apparently,” says the flautist Elizabeth Petcu with a wry smile. “Beethoven is thought to have had it as well.” […] Petcu formed a trio with the pianist Deborah Armstrong and the traditional flutemaker and player Martin Doyle. They call themselves RUNE, and they take an innovative approach to live performance; their concerts blend visual imagery, poetry and prose with various different kinds of music, from baroque to improvisation via the slow air. “I wanted to keep playing. But I didn’t want to do the very conventional, formal kind of classical recital,” she says. “So what we do is, we pick a theme and tie the music together with words and the beautiful visual imagery of Martin’s photographs.
Martin Doyle (flute maker), Desi Wilkinson (flute player) and Elizabeth Petcu (essayist).
In 2002, as the final semester essay undertaken to gain her Masters Degree in Music, Martin Doyle’s good friend Elizabeth Petcu wrote ‘A Phenomenological Study into the Experiences of a Flute Maker/Player Dyad’. With her kind permission, this essay has been reproduced on Martin Doyle Flutes.
This phenomenological study is an interesting and illumining insight into the relationship between a flute maker, Martin Doyle, and a flute player – in this case the renowned Irish traditional musician and music scholar, Desi Wilkinson.
The following are excerpts from Elizabeth’s essay.
From the introduction:
Discovering a flute maker’s workshop in my local town a few years ago enabled me to combine my lifelong fascination for woodwork and wood turning with my love of flutes and flute playing. Under the allure of the atmosphere in the workshop and listening to the philosophising of the maker, caused me to be curious about the “ingredients” contained in the instruments. I wondered if the experiences of the maker, as he worked, could be converted into a more tangible form. The phenomenological approach, also recently discovered, suggested itself as being a possible way to reveal the powerful, unspoken psychological processes and energies which I could palpably feel in the workshop.
Just added to Martin Doyle Flutes: three music samples from Elizabeth Petcu’s debut solo flute album, Just Me. Elizabeth Petcu is a good friend of Martin Doyle’s who lives in Bray, County Wicklow. They also constitute two thirds of the music trio Rune.
The fourteen tracks that comprise Just Me were recorded at the acoustically exceptional Calary Church near Roundwood in County Wicklow and the album is a lovely interpretation of Elizabeth’s favourite repertoire.
Elizabeth recorded Just Me on a Muramatsu concert flute fitted with a wooden headjoint and a keyless simple system Irish flute. Both the wooden headjoint and the Irish flute were made by Martin Doyle. The three tracks that have been added to Martin Doyle’s website are those that Elizabeth recorded using her Martin Doyle keyless Irish flute.
Elizabeth Petcu playing a Martin Doyle flute.
The two Telemann tracks are particularly worth noting as they were technically challenging in that Elizabeth decided to perform them on her Martin Doyle keyless simple system flute – just six open holes with lots of half-holing and cross fingering – quite an accomplishment! Throughout this album, Elizabeth Petcu exhibits her capacity as a mature flute player of great technical capacity that is coupled to a heart-felt passion and sensitivity for her selection. Just MeDebussy, Telemann, Bozza, Bach, Ibert, Honegger, Bates and Karg-Elert – with a traditional Irish air as a fitting finale.