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The Senator George J.Mitchell Institute
for Global Peace, Security and Justice

MWB Derry Londonderry

Ursula Burns - Music and Conflict

Ursula Burns Reflects on her Music and Northern Ireland's Arts Scene

Ursula Burns is a harpist and pianist with a speciality in theatrical comedic performance. During the interview she plays two pieces: on the harp, ‘Being Born’; and on the piano, ‘Summer Dress’ (which has not previously been recorded).

On 2nd February 2018 at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast, the ‘Take Back the City – Post-Ceasefire Songs’ event was hosted by music journalist Stuart Bailie as part of the 4 Corners Festival. The event brought together four songwriters from Northern Ireland to play their music and discuss how their songwriting has been affected by a changing political landscape. This event resonated strongly with research themes of the ‘Sounding Conflict: from Resistance to Reconciliation’ project. 

Dr Jim Donaghey spoke in more detail with two of the event’s participants, Ursula Burns  and Tony Wright. The interviews incorporate two songs by each of these songwriters, bringing their musicality directly into the discussion of their creative practice in a post-conflict context.  In this excerpt, Ursula shares her reflections on growing up in West Belfast during the Troubles and the post-conflict arts scene in the city.


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