Vocal Chords

Vocal Chords is a five part music documentary series for The Lyric Feature on RTÉ lyric fm presented by one of Ireland’s most acclaimed sean-nós singers Iarla Ó Lionáird.  In a global exploration Iarla explores the question whether singing is mankind’s primary means of communication and why we sing in both times of joy and sorrow.  In a vocal landscape from the sean nós tradition in Ireland, to the Zulu Mbube music of South Africa. Iarla talks to outstanding performers like Peter Gabriel, Sinéad Ó’Connor and Maria Pomianowska to uncover the story behind song, singing and the  unique vocal styles of the world.  This series takes listeners on a rich audio experience  while addressing the simple but vital question, ‘What happens when you sing and why do we sing?’


The series features recordings and performances from the Warsaw Cross Culture Festival and the Oslo World Music Festival. Artists include South African singer Nomfusi, also known for her role playing Miriam Makeba in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, to Giba Ives, a member of the Brazilian body percussion group Barbatuques. Iarla visits Robert Hollingworth in the University of York which offers the only solo voice ensemble masters in the world. There we get an insight into the difference between solo and group performance and an introduction to Hollingworth’s vocal ensemble I Fagiolini.


The series initially ran in the Summer of 2015 and is being re-broadcast every Friday at 7pm from May 6th to June 3rd 2016. A second series of ‘Vocal Chords in Conversation with Iarla Ó Lionáird’ has been approved and goes into production later this year for broadcast on RTÉ lyric fm in 2017. Our ‘Singing Our Way Home’ episode of Vocal Chords has also been nominated for Best Radio Music Programme in this year’s Celtic Media Awards, which are being hosted in Dungarvan this year from the 20-22nd of April.
The series producer is Helen Shaw. The audio editor/producer is Amy Millar. Recordists are Robert Hope and Michael Gallen. Our thanks to the Dorota Kukieła and the Warsaw Cross Culture Festival and Anniken Gurijordet and the Oslo World Music Festival for their support. For more information you can view the press release here

Vocal Chords is an Athena Media Production for RTÉ lyric fm made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland


Vocal Chords: In Conversation with Peter Gabriel has won the silver award in the Best Music Special category of the New York Radio Festival.  You can read more about the award here.




How to listen?

You can listen to the series via:





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