Cursíolta: Sow Seeds, Grow Music

seeds“I don’t think opportunities happen to you, I believe you make your own opportunities and those opportunities lead to things happening for you,” says Emma O’Reilly, proprietor of Cursíolta, the newest and most vibrant musical initiative in Irish music.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and English at Trinity College in 2010, Emma O’Reilly (pictured right) took the decision to not be involved in music for a while and give herself time to relax. That lasted less than a month as her drive and passion for music had her organising shows and realising a concept that had grown legs back in 2008.

“I wanted to put on a concert in the National Concert Hall. When I came across their application form it asked for an organisation name and I thought it just made sense, that if I was going to be putting on gigs and making things happen I might as well be building on a name rather than just doing a series of disconnected events and that’s really were Cursíolta came into it.”

As a musician in her own right Emma is a classically trained singer and pianist as well as an accomplished guitarist, songwriter and all-round musical rubik’s cube. But it is her relentless ambition, selflessness, inclusive attitude and ‘outside the box’ thinking that will surely see Cursíolta make rapid strides in the coming years.

“With Cursíolta we try to put on as many events as we can. I say ‘we’ because I see everything outside of my own music as being Cursíolta business. We’ve had one choral concert, we organised a flashmob for International Women’s Day, a gig in Twisted Pepper and two in Wall and Keogh Tea Rooms recently which we’re hoping to make regular events. I also help a few artists with PR for free, getting their events up online and it’s all done under the Cursíolta banner. I think that by getting musicians out to gig more you create the networks that you’d like to be part of and through that Cursíolta will hopefully become stronger and create opportunities all on its own.”

In an ever changing musical world that is saturated with celebrity and nostalgia, today’s emerging musicians find that well-beaten paths to recognition may not be the avenues best suited for them. A lot of younger artists struggle to find live settings to suit their music and for the most part open mic nights and pub appearances are far from inspiring, which leaves today’s artists solely in charge of where they play and, as many will tell you, finding gigs can be difficult. But with the seeds currently being sown by Emma O’Reilly through Cursíolta, and many other grassroots collectives around the city, that is set to change.

“I don’t know if a lot of people know how to search for gigs, especially ones that suit them. Pub culture is heavily associated with gigging, but it’s not always the best environment for certain types of music. I think that’s why a lot of artists would be interested in the gigs we put on, because I like to keep them intimate, low key and in smaller venues.

“I believe there is a huge amount of room for these kinds of gigs. With Wall and Keogh they gave us the space for free and asked that admission be free. That really opens it up to the public: some people brought their kids, and being under age wasn’t an issue, it costs nothing and it’s a quieter setting. The pub can be an intimidating place for musicians. It can also be a lot of fun, but for lower key songwriters it’s often a nightmare because no one there is obligated to listen. With us, the artists really enjoy the setting; we video them playing a really chilled acoustic performance and they can then use that to promote their music, which I hope is an extra incentive for them to come on board with Cursíolta.”

With an ethos built around enhancing the artist as opposed to selling tickets, Cursíolta is setting a concrete precedent for burgeoning musicians wanting to develop artistically in a setting that will allow them to flourish. And with a driven 24 year old at the helm with the musical bit between her teeth there is little that can get in the way of this fresh approach to new live music.

“As an artist you can really gain from these types of gigs and it can spur you on to keep creating music. With Cursíolta that’s what I want to do; I want to give artists that experience and see them grow from that to realise their potential.”

By Joe McKenna