Commissioned by Galway European Capital of Culture in partnership with Saolta Arts
Viriditas is a song cycle composed by acclaimed Irish artist and singer Ceara Conway in response to an extended process of engagement at Galway University Hospitals. Including newly composed contemporary songs and traditional European healing songs and rhythms from Georgia and Italy, Viriditas takes the listener on a journey through songs inspired by conversations with staff and patients, and recordings of hospital equipment, plants, and the tools of sound healers.
Named after the Latin term meaning greening power and life force, Viriditas opens with How are you?, a mesmerising embodiment of the voice of care. Guiding us through the Kartvelian, Irish, and English languages, it explores practices of healing, wellbeing, and the effects of systems on the spirit and health of those living and working within them. From Georgia, Iavnana, Batonebi and Mravalzhamieri interweave with songs in Irish that celebrate the medicinal properties of plants and lament on the current threat to their extinction. The traditional Irish names and curative qualities of Ireland’s wildflowers are eulogised in the poem Plant Chant, while the music of plants plays accompaniment in Vox Plantae. Set against nature, Viriditas also considers the adverse effects of hospital noise on healing and growth, incorporating samples of hospital tea trolleys, a Doppler fetal monitor, and hazard bins in the rhythmical White Noise. The artist’s playful arrangements continue with the cycle’s up-tempo finale An Damhan Alla agus an Mhíoltóg, performed with award winning musician Francesco Turrisi , melding the traditional Irish folk song with the tarantella style of Italian folk music historically used to heal the bite of a spider.
Previewed as a series of intimate performances by Ceara Conway with Anna Mullarkey through the wards and waiting rooms of Galway’s public hospitals, Viriditas is available as a limited edition CD and online for everyone at Saolta Arts.