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Review: An evening to treasure as leading stars shine

By Simon Fallaha

Out of darkness came light, and from the sullen, sodden and unexpectedly wintry outdoors entered an eager audience ready to appreciate tuneful vivacity and versatility in Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

They were primed for a night to remember, an occasion of titanic proportions to coincide with the arrival of the popular holiday.

The variety of artists eagerly entertained in tandem with the strength of the sound behind them, emanating clearly from the professional, dependable and adaptable Ulster Orchestra, conducted by David Brophy.

Armagh's Conor Mallon impressively exhibited his uilleann piping skills alongside acclaimed Belfast musician Neil Martin.

Fittingly, Duke Special's performance alternated between melancholic and cheerful, while the chapel-esque air and operatic pitch of Derry's Codetta choir brought with it a collection of powerful harmonies and mellow melodies.

Most notable of all was Strabane's Paul Brady. Given vibrant and multi-layered backing by a five-piece band and the orchestra, the seasoned musician's vocals soared.

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