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Some Background Information On Orla Fallon

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 1:02 am    Post subject: Some Background Information On Orla Fallon Reply with quote

Orla has a saying: 'it's a long way from Knockananna to Carnegie Hall.' The singer and harpist from the tiny village in the South East of Ireland ought to know because she's made the journey. She's won the International Feis Ceoil and International Pan Celtic competitions twice and has toured extensively in Europe and the USA as a soloist performing her renditions of haunting Irish airs along with her own original compositions.

Orla credits her family, her grandmother in particular, for her love of music. 'She was passionate about Irish music, songs, dancing and stories. The whole Celtic Woman project realizes her dream for me because traditional music was all we ever talked about. When I used to sing classical things she didn't want to bother with them at all. When I got older and started to feel more about the traditional music and the songs, I knew where she was coming from. There's something very plaintive and haunting about the Irish melodies. I've always said that Irish music is like soul music. It's just about touching people.'

Aside from music, Orla's great passion was, and continues to be, horses. Her parents sent her to a boarding school in Dublin where, for the first three years, she was able to indulge both hobbies. At that point, her music teacher suggested that she purchase her own harp in order to be able to practice on weekends and vacations. Forced to make a choice, Orla sold her pony to buy the harp. Luck wasn't with her though and the money was stolen. To her relief, the sacrifice convinced her father that she was serious about her musical study and he purchased the harp for her.

Choosing the harp was a defining moment for the fledgling musician which was recognized by her music teacher. 'She always said that through the harp and through music I'd always meet lovely people and I have. It's brought me on so many journeys that I'd never have made but for it. Music has opened so many doors for me. It's a great adventure.'

That adventure has, so far, seen Orla performing for the Pope in the Vatican, the President of Ireland and in the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, DC. She has also recorded, performed and toured with groups such as Clannad, Anuna and Oboist David Agnew. Her debut CD 'The Water is Wide' has earned her critical acclaim and has led to many television and radio broadcasts, including UTV's Kelly Show and RTE's Open House. The album includes many of Ireland's best-loved songs such as 'She Moved Thru The Fair', 'Carrickfergus' and 'Down By The Sally Gardens'.

Most notably, Orla was chosen as one of the soloists in Celtic Woman, a project she refers to as 'the opportunity of a lifetime.' Orla was invited to join by producer Sharon Browne and musical director David Downes who praised her haunting voice and it was an opportunity she jumped at. Good thing too as the'Celtic Woman' CD reached number one on the Billboard World Music charts in America.. Orla then performed with the group on the NBC Today Show live from Rockefeller Center in 2005 and at the St Patrick's Day Governor's Breakfast at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City that same year.

Through the project she has also been able to realize another of her childhood dreams; playing at Carnegie Hall in New York. 'From the time I was very small and could appreciate music, my mother used to talk about Carnegie Hall and 'the honor and glory to play there' and we did it in 2005. I was really emotional the whole day. My parents and all the family came over and that was just glorious. To sing 'Inisfree' with the harp on that stage was brilliant.'

For Orla, one of the greatest joys of performing in 'Celtic Woman' is the reaction of the audiences. 'People seem to be genuinely moved by the music. I've always said that as a performer if you manage to move one person when you're performing, you've achieved something. The world is so hard and busy and it�s lovely to take time out and reflect and think and dream. Dreaming is important; it's what keeps me going.'

In her solo work, Orla prefers simple arrangements and singing in Gaelic. 'I think things sound better in Gaelic than they do in English. It's a glorious, spiritual language.' And she writes her instrumental music on the harp. 'I've tried it on the piano and it just doesn't work for me,' she laughs. 'Writing songs has to come naturally. I love the outdoors and gardening and I think of some of my lyrics when I'm outside walking. I'm a bit of a dreamer and am always daydreaming and songs most often come to me that way but melodies come when I'm sitting at the harp.'

Having fulfilled so many of her dreams, Orla has her sights set on singing on a movie soundtrack someday. 'When I was 16 and left school, I entered the Knockananna talent competition,' she remembers, 'I could only play one song on the harp but I won. There was great excitement and people were saying to me 'someday you'll go to America and play in Carnegie Hall but I never really thought that someday would come. And now it has.'

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