All about Kavan

Twenty five-year-old UCD student Kavan Donohoe has already accumulated a very impressive CV in traditional Irish music, and on the harp in particular.

  He started playing the instrument at the tender age of seven at the Granard Harp School under Kim Fleming, before moving on to study with Michael, Fionnuala and Aonghus Rooney from Scotstown, Co Monaghan.

  He has also been steadily honing his skills on the uilleann pipes, tin whistle, low whistle and guitar for some time now, becoming highly proficient in each of these instruments.

  Kavan won the O’Carolan International Harp Festival in Keadue, Co Roscommon at the age of 16, and has been the winner at the Granard Traditional Junior Harp Festival on several occasions. In 2009 he won the Grace Nugent Cup at the Granard Harp Festival, while he was also the Under-18 winner at the Ulster Fleadh in July 2010.

  He has performed on television shows such as Blas Ceoil (BBC 2), The Fleadh Cheoil (RTÉ 1) and Mass on Sunday (RTE), and has also featured on RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, RTÉ 2fm, BBC Radio Ulster and Shannonside/Northern Sound — with a spot on Ryan Tubridy’s RTÉ Radio 1 being one of the highlights.

  Familiar to festivals at home and across the UK and Europe, Kavan has turned heads at the Shetland Festival, the County Sessions at the Button Factory, Dublin, the Corofin Trad festival, Féile Oriel in Monaghan and the Cavan’s homegrown Nyah Festival. He has also played at festivals in France, Italy and Switzerland, and across the pond at the Catskills Irish Arts Week in upstate New York.

   In the summer of 2008 he worked with acclaimed Belfast composer Brian Irvine in a Moving on Music project, while another highlight of his career to date was a solo performance for the Prince of Wales in Northern Ireland.

  Kavan was an award winner at the highly competitive Meitheal Summer School in Limerick in 2008, the year in which he was also the recipient of a Cavan Co Council Arts Act grant towards his EPK (electronic press kit) media pack.

  He has played support for prominent artists like fiddler Zoë Conway and singers Seán Ó Sé and Andy Irvine among others, and appeared at fourteen venues in the Macalla na hÉireann: 2009 Comhaltas Concert Tour of Ireland.

  A member of the Seachtain Na h'Eigse All-Ireland Fleadh committee, Kavan regularly works on tune arrangements with the Cavan Town CCE youth branch, thereby demonstrating a desire to pass his skills on to even younger musicians.

  His influences include Michael Rooney, Niall Vallely, Laoise Kelly, John McSherry, Cormac Breatnach and Donal Lunny.

  His recording career dates back to 2001, where he played on A Call from The Musical Heart of Cavan. His playing also features on and Martin Donohoe’s 2006 CD Blúiríní Blasta (Tasty Touches).

  But it is this new offering, recorded at Fintan McManus’s Railway Road Studios in Belturbet, Co Cavan — it had to be Cavan! — that marks Kavan’s arrival as a force to be reckoned with on the traditional music scene.