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Eoin O Riabhaigh

I’ve been very fortunate to be invited, on two occasions, to play with the Xenia Ensemble in beautiful Turin and beyond. As an Irish piper, unaccustomed to exploring contemporary classical music, joining a quartet of such talented players and to play music with which I was so unfamiliar, was a daunting prospect indeed. When I first received Sean Doherty’s score I had serious misgivings as to my ability to contribute anything musical to this fine work, and considered withdrawing from the project with the remaining modicum of pride.

However, I soon found that these fears subsided greatly when I started rehearsals in Turin with the quartet. They were unbelievably professional in their approach, and each one a consummate musician.

For a traditional piper accustomed to playing with guitars and bouzoukis, having a quartet like Xenia play behind my melody line was extraordinary. The buzz is barely describable.

The performances were very well received and climaxed with the evening in the Egyptian Museum, which was truly unforgettable. Audiences were really appreciative and welcoming, and I think pleasantly surprised to hear the pipes/strings combination.

Turin is a wonderful, hospitable city with which I have fallen in love. Amazing pizza, pasta and piano players in the train station! One of its treasures must surely be the Xenia Ensemble and I very much look forward to returning to Turin soon.

Eoin O Riabhaigh, Uilleann piper