Irish works feature in the international line-up of the 2015 West Cork Chamber Music Festival

The 2015 West Cork Chamber Music Festival begins on Friday, with over a week of concerts, masterclasses and talks taking VBQ-homepage-111214place in Bantry. In its 20th year, the festival boasts a strong line-up of Irish and international acts, with a strong contemporary music presence and a number of world and Irish premieres. It also features the premiere of works by the four winning composers of the West Cork Chamber Music Composition Competition and the Young Composers’ Forum.

The festival opens with a concert in Bantry House (now sold out), with the Cremona Quartet playing Mozart, Barry Douglas playing Schubert, and the Vanbrugh Quartet performing a string quartet by Sean Doherty, commissioned by Vanbrugh as part of the Crossings project and premiered earlier this year.

“My String Quartet No. 3 ‘The Devil’s Dream’ was commissioned by the Vanbrugh Quartet as part of their Crossings project—a collaboration between artists from backgrounds of classical and Irish traditional music. I was introduced to music through the fiddle tradition of my native Donegal. The tradition is distinctive in Ireland: not like the languid lilt of the Clare style nor the light patter of the Galway style, the Donegal style looks outwards, across the sea, for its closest kin—to Scotland and to Nova Scotia. Aggressive, driving, and un-ornamented, the tunes are as stark as the bogland, the bowing as jagged as the cliffs. A leading of exponent of this tradition was my teacher, the fiddle player James Byrne and this string quartet is loosely based on two tunes that I learned from his playing: An Londubh and The Devil’s Dream. This quartet was written in his memory.” –Seán Doherty

Other premieres by Irish composers include Alina Ibragimova playing Ian Wilson’s Sonáin Béaloidis for solo violin (29 Jun, 8pm, St Brendan’s Church), while Tabakova’s Such Different Paths (30 Jun, 4pm, St. Brendan’s Church) and Fagerlund’s Transient Light (30 Jun, 8pm, Bantry House) are among the international works receiving Irish premieres.

The four winning composers of the 2015 Composition Competition for Young Composers are Robert Coleman, Peter Leavy, Finola Merivale and Amy Rooney. These four composers works were chosen from an annual call for submissions of works for string quartet, to be performed and workshopped throughout the festival. Coleman’s work Monster will receive its premiere by the Arioso Quartet; Leavy’s Kintsukuroi by the Lir Quartet; Merivale’s The Language of the Mountains is Rain by Sonora Quartet; and Rooney’s Viscosity for String Quartet by the Vuillaume Quartet. All concerts are afternoon events taking place at St. Brendan’s Hall, and see the young composers’ works paired with music by Beethoven, Debussy, Schubert, and Barber. The composers will also take part in the Young Composers’ Forum directed by Finnish composer Sebastian Fagerlund on 27 June.

For more information and full programme, see

New Music Digest: 22 – 29 June

10514469_1120981414583670_3427189605910252695_nEvents This Week:

The Quiet Music Ensemble present an evening of music throughout all the rooms and spaces of Freemasons’ Hall on Molesworth St, including music by Pauline Oliveros, Jennifer Walshe and John Godfrey.

  • 25 Jun, 6.30pm, Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth St., Dublin
  • More

The RTÉ ConTempo Quartet with William Dowdall perform Donnacha Dennehy‘s pushpulling as part of their ‘Father & Sons’ concert series

  • 26 Jun, 1pm, The Granary Library, Limerick
  • 28 Jun, 1pm, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin
  • More

Derek Ball‘s crowdfunded song cycle The Way We Are receives its premiere, performed by David Bremner and Elizabeth Hilliard

  • 26 Jun, 6.30pm, Royal Irish Academy of Music, Westland Row, Dublin
  • More

The West Cork Chamber Music Festival opens on Friday with a concert featuring a new string quartet by Sean Doherty performed by the Vanbrugh Quartet

  • 26 Jun, 8pm, Bantry House, Bantry, Cork
  • More

The RTÉ NSO‘s Beethoven summer series continues with a performance of David Fennessy‘s Prologue (Silver are the Tears of the Moon)

  • 26 Jun, 8pm, National Concert Hall, Dublin
  • More

A symposium and concert titled Breaking the Sound Barrier: New Paths in Extended Techniques takes place in Middlesex University, with presentations and performances from composer Benjamin Dwyer and composer/performer Nick Roth

  • 23 Jun, 9am – 8.30pm, Middlesex University School of Media and Performing Arts, London

Breifne Holohan launches his debut album of works for electric guitar and electroacoustic music, Eastern Passageswith a concert in Drogheda

  • 26 Jun, 8pm, Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda
  • More


Quiet Music Ensemble perform Jennifer Walshe’s Dordán at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Centre

Quiet Music Ensemble perform a programme of five new works in Dublin on 25 June

The programme, entitled The Mysteries Beyond Matter, takes place at the Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 from 6.30-10.30pm on 25 June (admission €20/12).

The programme features five major works created for the group, two of which are world premieres.

Pauline Oliveros’ The Mystery Beyond Matter processes sound of the instrumentalists which is diffused throughout the building via a multichannel sound system. The work invites the audience to move through the building to experience the soundscape, with each audience member creating their own unique listening experience.

Irish composer Jennifer Walshe features in the programme with her work Dordán, drawing on the fictitious Irish outsider artists Pádraig Mac Giolla Mhuire and Caoimhín Breathnach, telling the story of Pádraig’s life and the invention of early Irish Minimalism. Originally premiered at the 2013 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the work receives its Irish premiere.

Formed in 2008, Quiet Music Ensemble is Ireland’s only professional ensemble dedicated to Experimental and improvised music. The group recently released a CD, also called The Mysteries Beyond Matter, on the Farpoint Recording label.


Pauline Oliveros The Mystery Beyond Matter (world premiere of the multichannel version)

Jennifer Walshe Dordán (Irish premiere)

Martin Iddon in’ei (world premiere)

Christopher Fox Qui/nt/et

John Godfrey hand tinted

Kevin O’Connell on his new setting of the Latin Mass

Kevin O’Connell and Director of the Palestrina Choir Blánaid Murphy talk about his new setting of the Latin Mass for the choir.

The Mass receives its first performance at 11am mass at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Dublin on 21 June 2015.

More on the mass here.

RTÉ NSO series featuring Irish symphonic works paired with Beethoven concertos takes place during June and July

nso beethThe RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra present a series of Beethoven piano concertos programmed beside works by Irish composers, as well as specially-chosen significant orchestral works. The concerts will take place every Friday at the National Concert Hall, and will feature a variety of Irish solo performers.

The series kicks off on 12 June with Beethoven’s first Piano Concerto paired with John Kinsella’s Cúchulainn and Ferdia – Duel at the Ford, and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. The Kinsella work was commissioned by RTÉ in 2008 to mark the orchestra’s 60th anniversary, and is a dramatic work drawing on the Irish legend. The soloist for this concert will be contemporary music performer Isabelle O’Connell.

Following this will be a programme featuring Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 with Ian Wilson’s Man-o’-War, in association with the Royal Irish Academy of Music’s Beethoven Project, and will feature as soloist RIAM alumni Maria McGarry. The third week of the series features an Irish premiere in David Fennessy’s Prologue (Silver are the Tears of the Moon), a work which is inspired by Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo. This piece will be paired with Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, and performed by pianist Peter Tuite and featuring the New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor Courtney Lewis.

The penultimate concert (3 July) features Michael McHale performing the Beethoven Concerto No. 4 alongside Copland’s Symphony No. 3 and Seoirse Bodley’s 1975 traditional music-inspired work A small white cloud drifts over Ireland. The series wraps up with another RTÉ commission, Raymond Deane’s Samara (2005), whose title is a reference to the winged seed of certain trees. This final concert will be performed by Hugh Tinney, a regular performer of Deane’s music, and will also feature Sibelius Symphony No. 7 and the final Beethoven Concerto, ‘The Emperor’ Concerto.

Tickets are available for each event individually at the National Concert Hall Box Office at; discounted series package tickets are also available for purchase.

Three upcoming performances from Ian Wilson

Composer Ian Wilson has a number of performances of works over the next couple of months, beginning with the improvising duo crOw – Wilson on electronics with saxophonist Cathal Roche.

The duo will perform a series of four free concerts at Cork Midsummer Festival in a project titled ‘Sounding The City’. Each concert will take place at a different venue where the players will respond to the architectural and acoustic properties: the venues include the National Sculpture Factory (12 Jun, 5pm), the Atrium at Cork City Hall (13 Jun, 5pm), the Sky Garden at Fitzgerald’s Park (14 Jun, 3pm), and Gulpd Cafe at Triskel Arts Centre (14 Jun, 9pm). All events are free entry. For more information click here

A second festival will feature a premiere of a work by Wilson later in the month: the West Cork Chamber Music Festival will include Alina Ibragimova playing his new solo violin sonata Sonaid Béaloidis. The work has three movements and lasts 15 minutes, and is based on different types of Irish songs and dances. The concert takes place on 29 June at 8pm at St. Brendan’s Church. Tickets are available from here.

Finally in July, a new acoustic theatre work titled im Geheimen (trans. ‘in secret’) will be performed at the Deutsches Mygiene-Museum in Dresden by Elole Trio. im Geheimen is a work of music theatre without text composed for piano trio, based on the 16th century composer Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa. There will also be an interactive tour of the museum, and the concert is supported by Klangnetz Dresden, the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony, the city of Dresden, Office of Culture and Monument Protection and the Dresden Art and Culture Foundation Ostsächsische Sparkasse Dresden. More information here.

Listen at Wellington features performances from Irish composers Judith Ring, Anna Murray and others

listenThe Listen at Wellington concert series continues on Friday, 19 June with an event that features jazz, spoken word, songs and electronic music with Irish composers and musicians, curated by composer/performer Dylan Rynhart.

Laura Hyland features as a performer in this month’s concert with her project Clang Sayne, a collaborative group that explores the boundaries between song and improvisation and also features composer Judith Ring. Also on the bill is singer/songwriter/violinist Abigail Smith with her band, performing songs from their recent album Fall Into Silence.

A new string quartet formed by Kate Ellis with Aoife Ní Bhríain, Lisa Dowdall and Cora Venus Lunny will present a tribute to Terry Riley to mark the American composer Terry Riley’s 80th birthday weekend. Composer Anna Murray will give a live performance of her improvised ambient electronic music project Rndr, with visual projections, of which she released an EP in 2013, and broadcaster Billy Ó’hAnluain will present a spoken word set.

Listen at Wellington takes place at 7pm on Friday 19 June at the Wellington Bar on Baggot St. Tickets cost €10 and are available on the door. For more information on the programme and series see

A song cycle by Derek Ball will be performed by Elizabeth Hilliard and David Bremner on 26 June

Entitled The Way We Are, the 90 minute work is part of Derek Ball’s triptych of works commemorating the soprano Eileen Donlon.

The cycle consists of 16 songs, each one a villanelle setting, which is a 19-line form with a pair of alternating refrain lines. The poems are by 7 contemporary poets known to the composer, most of them Irish: Maurice Harmon, Anne Makower, Neil Colyer, Paddy Bushe, Gregory Rosenstock, Mary O’Donnell, and Richard Berengarten.

The performance features Elizabeth Hilliard (soprano) and David Bremner (piano), and takes place at the Katherine Brennan Hall of the Royal Irish Academy of Music at 6.30pm on 26 June.

Here’s an interview recorded recently with Derek Ball about the song cycle, and his career as a composer.

A new album featuring the music of Paul McGuire has been released

Sleep Spindles is the debut full-length album of Dublin-born, London-based composer Paul McGuire.

Released on the Slip label, the album features three of the composer’s most recent works – cello work Tampered performerd by Céline Papion, a work for twelve guitars, Marshesand the title track for percussion, performed by the composer.

From the label’s press release:

McGuire’s fastidious pieces wrench the fizzes, crackles, and hums of acoustic instruments into towering swarms of sound. Sleep Spindles collects three of his most focussed, guttural works to date. On ‘Tampered’, the minute squeaks of Céline Papion’s cello are gathered in solid hunks; the microtonal guitar drones of ‘Marshes’ are part seduction, part dread; and ‘Sleep Spindles’ gleans an earthy poise from the skins of a simple percussion set-up.

Sleep Spindles makes the nanoscopic speak with exquisite force, and carves out a defiant zone between the luxurious washes of ambient maestros like Tim Hecker, and the more rarified noise compositions of Helmut Lachenmann. Sleep Spindles is available from June in a limited 300 CD run, with artwork by Dori Deng.

The album is available as a limited edition CD or digital download from Bandcamp.

Listen to an interview recorded with Paul McGuire about the CD.

A new choral work by Kevin O’Connell for the Palestrina Choir receives its premiere on 21 June

Kevin O’Connell’s latest large-scale choral commission, a setting of the Mass for choir and organ in Latin, will be premiered as part of the Liturgy, at the Solemn Latin Mass in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin on Sunday 21 June 2015 at 11.00am. The setting is intricate and challenging, carefully crafted in its complexity to suit the ensemble of talented boy choristers and professional adult male singers of the Palestrina Choir.

Contemporary commissions for serious choral settings of the Mass have become something of a rarity and this new setting joins a number of significant settings, including those by James MacMillan, Lennox Berkeley, Flor Peeters, Edward Rubbra, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Benjamin Britten.

‘I am really delighted both that the choir will sing this new piece in the context for which it was composed and that the Arts Council has supported this commission. I believe this will be a significant event for both Irish contemporary music in general and Irish Sacred Music composition in particular.’ Blanaid Murphy, Choral Director


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