Sylvia O’Brien’s Top Five Pieces for Voice and Piano from the CMC Library


Sylvia O’Brien in CMC’s library

Last week, the Contemporary Music Centre hosted Sylvia O’Brien (soprano) for a week long residency.

Sylvia O’Brien is a singer of contemporary repertoire and has collaborated with many Irish composers including Gerald Barry, Brian Irvine, Ian Wilson, Kevin O’Connell, Raymond Deane, and Seóirse Bodley, with whom she has performed on many occasions. Sylvia spent the week exploring our library collection of solo vocal music, and took the time to pick out some of her favourites from our catalogue. Here are five pieces she picked off from our extensive collection:

It was a hard task just to select five pieces as I discovered so much fantastic music this week in CMC’s library. Hopefully, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this selection but I have also mentioned a few others below.

1. David Harold Cox: Transience for Soprano (1992)

Text by John Irvine, this is a cycle of seven songs which can all be sung independent of the cycle. If you shine at the top of the stave and above, you will enjoy singing this piece

2. Kevin O’Connell: O to be a Dragon for Baritone (1998)

Dramatic song cycle using the full range and dynamic of the baritone voice with an extremely exciting and virtuosic piano part.

3. Garrett Sholdice: Three lieder after Franz Schubert for Soprano (2011)

In complete contrast to the previous selection this is a beautifully haunting piece, very sparse yet intense.

4. Seoirse Bodley: The Naked Flame for Mezzo-Soprano (1987)

Plenty to chose from in this marvellous song cycle. Explores the scope and colour of the mezzo range. Beautiful text by Michael O’Siadhail

5. Deirdre Gribbon: Mad Cow Sings for Tenor (1994)

This is a quirky piece, full of fun. For a tenor with extended height.

Other pieces I would like to highlight are John Gibson – Five songs, Bernadette Marmion – Music Sweet, Eibhlis Farrell – Songs of Death (mezzo), E.J.Moeran – Seven Poems by James Joyce, Philip Martin – Light Music, Gerard Victory – Cinque Chanson de Rimbaud (soprano), Philip Martin – Dejeuner du Matin, John F. Larchet – The Philosophy of Love, Joan Trimble – My Grief on the Sea.

And I could go on…

Quick tip: a lot of composers use the word ‘voice’ rather than soprano, tenor etc in the titles of their compositions, so if may be difficult to find music for your voice type when you are using the online catalogue. The library is open to the public Monday – Friday 9:30am – 5:30pm so be sure to come down and check out what’s here! All pieces can be found on our CMC Library website:

Huge thank you to Sylvia for sharing her favourite pieces for voice and piano from our library. You can hear Sylvia perform on 15 November as part of the Sundays at Noon Concert Series at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Dublin Song Series 2015 in association with classical links –  Sylvia O’Brien (soprano) Christopher Marwood (cello) and Michael McHale (piano.) More info here.

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