This new documentary about the life of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin founder of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, will air on RTÉ One later this Tuesday 20th of Dec on RTE One at 10.15 pm. Make sure you watch it and spread the word.
Lucky me was invited to a press screening ahead of the broadcast.
This beautifully scenic & artisic documentary of Professor Ó Súilleabháin was directed and produced by multi-award winning filmmaker Maggie Breathnach of Red Shoe Productions. The documentary, entitled 'Between Worlds' The Life of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin , explores the life and legacy of the pioneering Irish composer and academic.
Many of his friends and family speak about the man, his music and most importantly the meaning behind it.
All this interested me as 'between worlds' sounds a lot like the meaning of what is called 'bardo' in Tibetan Buddhism. Normally this is understood as the space time from the moment of death to rebirth made famous by Bardo Thodal or The Tibetan Book of The Dead.
However there are a number of 'bardos' in persons life. The famed Tibetan Lama Trungpa said the experience of bardo was experiencing 'the pit of hell and the peak of heaven in the same moment'.
For some during this experience there comes about a spiritual awakening.
Ó Súilleabháin passed in 2018 after a life filled with international developments as a composer. His unique Irish piano style joining classical, jazz and Irish traditional elements was pioneering, along with his creation of the incredible Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick where many students took an MA degree.
The documentary was all shot outside capturing for me the soundscape which Professor Ó Súilleabháin and all of us live in by virtue of living and breathing in the Celtic lands. The five elements are all represented earth, water, fire, wood and space thanks to the producer Breathnach insisting all interviews took place outside in nature from where much inspiration comes.
Professor Ó Súilleabháin said he liked being in the middle of the crossroads. This was the space that he liked to create from. In the middle, holding opposite forces together.
Leaving the screening of the documentary I could not help think to myself this was not a static place where he created and existed from. Shortly after the screening the image and notion of the labyrinth in mysticism came to me. As if the energies he worked with musically were found walking on internal labyrinth psycho-spiritually speaking.
So he may have been in the middle of an energetic compass at the focal point but the labyrinth actually rolls out of that and in Professor Ó Súilleabháin's case this is possibly the energetic space where he created from - beyond time and space - a sacred space.
You can see possibly what I mean at 23.00 mins into the video below which explores labyrinths.
The new documentary about the life of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin will air on RTÉ One later this Tuesday 20th of Dec on RTE One at 10.15 pm.
Make sure you sit the whole family down for a cinematic documentary of food for the soul, ceol agus deas.
There is talk that the documentary will go on a national tour of Arts Centres and internationally for screenings. You may also get a chance to see young Irish musicians perform before the screening and hear the voices and music of his sons and perhaps if you are lucky a poem or two.
Owen Ó Súilleabháin
20/12/2022 11:04:28 am
Beautifully put Ralph - that you so much for your thoughtful and insightful response to this piece of cinematic magic that Maggie put together. She'd love to read this - I'll send this on to her now - all the best and see you soon!
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Bestselling author Ralph Quinlan Forde BSc (Hons) MA is the writer and editor of the Mindful Beauty blog. His first book The Book of Tibetan Medicine went into 11 languages. His second Nutriwine has