I think we all know…

… it’s been over for a while now.

Seriously though, over the last few months, between love:live music and my Masters and other projects, I haven’t had any time whatsoever to even think about blogging. I know there’s a proliferation of blogs in Ireland, and there couldn’t possibly be enough readers to justify the amount of time spent pondering, writing and rewriting posts, but the there’s something about putting ideas down on paper (metaphorically…) with the thought that someone, somewhere might read it, that pushes you to write well for that one person. I like being pushed to write well (nerd! I know!).

Next week I take the ferry to Cherbourg and head from there to Brussels, where I plan on spending a significant amount of time for the foreseeable future. After ten years on and off living in Dublin city it’s just about time for a change. There are a number of factors in Ireland too that are pushing for a change. Work has been amazing here and I’m continuing to work on some incredible projects, but in the time I’m not working on Irish projects I want to explore Europe and see what it has to offer. I’ve already made connections with people who have a lot to offer, not just me, but Ireland too, through projects so I want to push that for the next while.

I’m also thinking a lot about where I would be best placed to start my family (I know, big words but I’m that age!!) and I honestly feel like for me, right now, Ireland is not that country. And I’ll be very honest, reading opinion and interview pieces in media over the last six months, and with all the amazing pieces of theatre and art that have been made addressing the issue of leaving Ireland, I have a rising feeling of guilt at “abandoning my country”. (I’ve found it so distracting that I’m actually going to write my thesis on the undertones of nationalism in much of the discourse surrounding contemporary Irish emigration.) But I’m going to focus on what is best for me and make the decision to head somewhere where the cost of rent or buying a house or day to day living costs or childcare isn’t crippling. And where there’s a very real opportunity to save some money, instead of just surviving from paycheck to paycheck. So many of my friends are in similar situations – just about getting from one month to the next, paying back college loans and huge rent on apartments that are insufficient for their needs. Afraid to think of what will be needed in the future because we’re nowhere near ready for what it might bring. There has to be another way to live past mere day to day survival.

So, anyway all that personal guff aside, this will be my last post on this blog. Considering it was based around plugging and attending new music events in Dublin for the main part, there’s no sense in continuing when I can’t make it to all the relevant events. There is a gap here though; one that I was trying to address with this blog but which I could never hope to fill. There is a desperate lack of a platform for preview/review/comment on any form of contemporary music in Ireland. The Journal of Music (formerly JMI) used to be the first stop for that kind of coverage, but with their international focus there’s little space for a comprehensive overview of Irish events. And while it’s great to get a global perspective on new music we’re missing the home news. I’d love to see some of the brilliant writers who have, or still do, occasionally write about new music, getting together for a more comprehensive, frequent critique of new music in Ireland, also listing upcoming events and reviewing past ones. I know that the CMC are working hard on solidifying the new music community in Ireland and perhaps one of the steps down the road is a central point for writing specifically dedicated to new music in Ireland. In the meantime there are some great existing places to go for your new music feed! The Journal of Music is still the first place to look for coverage of Ireland-related issues. And writers such as John McLachlan (for whom I have always had massive respect as a writer) and Barra O Séaghdha (my computer won’t let me put the fada on the O!) means that the journal represents some of the best writing on new music. Also, relatively new cultural journal Vulgo is also a great place to go for occasional writing on new music and I do my best to contribute to that myself but, like I said, time has not been my friend! So until there’s a catch all for new music writing in Ireland, get your fill there! 

So, thank you all so much for reading when you found the time and for all the feedback I’ve received over the last few years. I’m toying with the idea of starting a Tumblr blog to map my Belgian journey in pictures, but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll scale back on online activities for a few months and see where that leaves me when Autumn rolls around. I’m not going far and will be over and back between the two countries and I promise to not be a stranger! 

ais x

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Quiet Music Ensemble performance

The QME perform their first event of 2011 next week at the National Concert Hall as guests of the Irish Composers Collective. QME Artistic Director John Godfrey will give a brief talk before the gig so drop in early to hear John talk about the ensemble’s work.

The QME perform new works by Alyson Barber, Solfa Carlile, Patrick Connolly, Susan Geaney, Aristides Llaneza and Adam McCartney.

Wed 27 April – 8.30pm (pre-concert talk at 8.15pm)

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April update

What’s going on!?

A very good friend of mine, and very competent marketing lady, has just started her own company with a like-minded friend, promoting events on this green isle. Her first gig is Sibín Festival taking place on Sat 30th April. An underground music festival with a hugely eclectic line-up, I’m not even going to attempt to list all the types of music; check it out for yourselves – facebook page!

The annual acknowledgement of Handel’s Messiah first performance in Dublin is coming up Temple Bar Cultural Trust are celebrating with “Handel” A Little More Culture on 13th April. There are a few great free activities over the course of the day and all the info is on the TBCT website or on the facebook page.

As I’m sure anyone who knows me is aware at this stage, Friday is love:live music – National Music Day! whee. Which is why I’ve been so quiet. Well, that and my masters, and other projects, and, and, and… Today we reached 150 events across the country and people are still registering. It’s a huge undertaking and I’m so glad I am with Music Network and able to be a part of it. So, have a look at the website, and if you have a tv, catch me on Imeall on TG4 tomorrow night (Thurs 07 April) at 10pm talking about the event!

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The 5th May is the deadline for Arts Council Touring applications, for projects taking place between 31st August 2011 and 31st June 2012. There will be NO further awards for touring during that time so if you know anyone who is planning a tour any stage over the next 18 months please tell them to watch this deadline!

All of the information is on the Arts Council site – http://www.artscouncil.ie/en/news/news.aspx?article=2b7c8a02-68c9-4ba7-9520-f1cc57e6a15c (the insert link button isn’t working for me!!)


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Sligo New Music Festival

I just don’t have any time at the moment to write here. I’m totally consumed by love:live music during the day (8th April people – what are you doing that day?!!!) and my Masters at night, so the next two months are going to be absolutely dead here I’m afraid. But please don’t go too far 😉

However, I wanted to do a quick post on something that’s kinda important to me. This year is Ian Wilson’s last year as Artistic Director of the Sligo New Music Festival. I have a long-standing relationship with the SNMF, and as a consequence of that, with Ian. I cut my teeth on new music, and on festival management, under the watchful eye of Aoife Flynn, when she was General Manager of The Model. It was an intense and steep learning curve as I learned the ins and outs of working with various artists, learning how to market new music, how to prepare press material, managing budgets, coordinating logistics of artists coming in and out of the country, and ultimately, how wonderful new music can be when everything goes right.

This year’s festival runs from 15 – 17 April in The Model and features two Australian guests; Oren Ambarchi and Genevieve Lacey. The two have never played in public together previously but are embarking on an ambitious programme with Wilson; a programme which includes a new large scale work by Ian for for improvising saxophonist and improvising string quartet. The SNMF always surprised me for being a high point on the Irish new music calendar in a far corner of the country. And, having programmed and managed events in Cork, Tipperary and Sligo I will be the first to say that not all the great new music in the country takes place in Dublin, but it was always reassuring to see the programme for the SNMF and know that there is artistic work of very high quality being presented across the island.

I’m sure there are many reasons for Ian’s decision to make this festival his last, including the fact that after eight years at the helm, there are surely other projects, just as ambitious, that require his attention. But for me, the new music festival formed a cornerstone in the developing reputation of The Model as a place for contemporary work of the highest quality. I’m sure everyone in the county will be sorry to see Ian end his relationship with the space and I sincerely hope the Model will continue with it’s contemporary music programming.

ok, back to the books…

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This Week

A quick post with a few links for this week:

On a non-musical note, I’ve been crafting again! These are some red heart garlands – I’ve made some green ones for an ‘alternative’ Paddies’ Day party I’m heading to in Brussels!

I probably already mentioned it, but I’m hoping to spend much of the week at Sensorium experimental music festival. Check out the website!

Tuesday will be a busy one for me as we launch love:live music in the Culture Box in Temple Bar! Four weeks and counting to the big day!! There are a couple of new features I’m working on at the moment for the website and hope to have them up and running this week!

Spatial MC have a gig on Wednesday night in the NCH, featuring violinist Darragh Morgan. He’s a mesmerising performer and I’m really looking forward to that gig. It’s a part of Wednesdays for New Music. If you haven’t already heard of it, it’s a drive, with the backing of the CMC, to make Wednesday night the night for new music in Dublin. For the first time there is a coordinated effort by programmes to take a strategic approach to programming new music as a sector. The other programmers are Kaleidoscope, CMC themselves, and ICC.

Here’s a sweet end to a Sunday evening for all you 80’s babies, like me! Via my good friend Niamh!

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Quick Links II

Another really brief post on a few things that popped up on my radar this week:

The Arts Council are hosting information clinics for their Project Awards all week, starting this morning in Dublin. More info on clinics across the country here.

ConTempo Quartert are performing new works by Dave Flynn, on 12 March in Galway. It sounds really gorgeous, with performances by Breanndán Begley and Mick O’Brien. If you’re anywhere near Galway I’d seriously recommending heading over to hear a host of new work by Flynn.

I already wrote a piece on Vulgo about Sensorium coming up next week in Dublin, but wanted to highlight this workshop performance of The Jimmy Rig Slip Jig by George Higgs. Tues 08 March, downstairs in Project for €3 – no, I didn’t make a mistake! €3! “a machine of song” according to Higgs’ press release. I’ll be there!

Last note – me and my skin & blister were both shortlisted for the Irish Blog Awards! Wheeeeeee!!!

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Quick Links

Here are a few wee links to start your week! There is no rhyme or rhythm to these – they’re totally random things that popped up on my radar the last few weeks.

A really sweet example from Clare string group Swinging Strings of using a blog for non-professional youth orchestras/groups/bands!

Interesting new BA in music performance to be made available in Dublin through Brighton & Bristol Institute of Mordern Music – via State Magazine

My piece in Vulgo on upcoming Sensorium, kicking off on 07 March in Project Arts Centre

This is my first time trying to embed a video, so prepare for experimental mistakes! I spotted this on Always Read the Small Print blog during last week and think it’s a brilliantly made portfolio piece from Eoghan Kidney – amazing!


DIT Student Composers TONIGHT at Peppercanister Church at 7.30pm

SSTN have a new album launch coming up this Thursday in The Joinery. Preview the album by Gland & Conduit on Soundcloud. The press release calls it a “an experiment in free form sound design, electroacoustic composition and brain-cleansing noise.” Nice!!

Experimental music evening coming up this Friday evening (25 Feb) at the CFCP, Dublin. Monika and the team are all about nurturing experimental forms.

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Bits & Pieces

Before too much times passes I just want to make a quick note of a few things!

First, to say goodbye to Frances Mitchell of Crash Ensemble fame. Under Frances’ watchful eye Crash went from strength to strength. She is a force majeur in arts management, brilliantly balancing the tightrope of funding cuts, bringing new music to Irish audiences and a need to increase international profile of the Ensemble. I was introduced to Frances a few years ago by Gareth Costello, very late one evening after a successful Living Music Festival event, and I was immediately struck by her energy and vision. I’m sure Frances will be desperately missed by everyone in Crash, although she’s not gone very far – the 46A is a short bus ride out to UCD!

The other thing I wanted to flag before it gets too close are the CMC’s Nights of New Music. The first such night is coming up on 23 Feb and all the action will take place in and around the Kevin Barry Room in the National Concert Hall. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a big fan of the CMC’s and this is another step in their visible support for new music in Ireland. The project is a clever sharing of resources and audiences as the CMC join forces with the Irish Composers Collective (ICC) and the NCH to provide a nicely packaged whole evening of new music! The first evening is curated by Ergodos and kicks off at 6pm with a performance of new music by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, Garrett Scholdice and Jonathan Nangle. After the concert there will a break to take in some wine and tapas at the NCH before the ICC performance, with a pre-concert talk at 8pm*. I’m gonna be there, hope to see some of you!

Just in case you didn’t know – the CMC tweet!

* Update: Elizabeth Hilliard will not be giving the pre-concert talk as I said before, but will absolutely be preforming in the 8.30pm concert! Sorry Elizabeth for making you jump!!

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My life seems full of coincidences and serendipities. Most of the time these coincidences are surprising, and occasionally really wonderful. The last few weeks have been a case in point of how small coincidences can have a substantial effect on your life.

In October 2010 I completed a week-long comparative study with a contemporary music project based in Copenhagen, called RE:NEW MUSIC. The week coincided with Nordic Music Days, which was being hosted by the Danish Composers Society that year (this wasn’t so much a coincidence as very good planning on the behalf of the RE:NEW MUSIC Project Manager!). It meant that when I wasn’t working on the project, I got to attend the Nordic Music Days events and meet with composers and performers from across the Nordic countries. One of these, Icelandic composer and performer, Pétur Jónasson, and I spent some time hanging out at the performances and talks. Pétur is wonderful company; charming, knowledgeable, with a wry sense of humour and we were good friends by the end of the week. I went home exhausted after a brilliant week, with a new-found love for Icelandic people.

About a month ago I met with Deirdre Mulrooney of Vulgo Magazine. Deirdre and I had worked together a few years ago and had stayed in touch on and off since. We chatted over the new publication and Deirdre asked if I was interested in contributing. I’m doing my best to improve my writing skills and this stuck me as a perfect opportunity to do just that with a public platform. We threw a few ideas around and I was thinking about writing about Nordic Music Days – Iceland are the 2011 hosts of the event and it will take place in October in Reykjavik. I was mad for a trip to see this fabled country and this could be an ideal piece for Vulgo, albeit quite a distance in the future. I left Deirdre, happy with our conversation, and went off to get some more work done, when an email landed from Pétur asking me would I like to attend Dark Music Days (Iceland’s own new music festival) the following weekend!!!!! Yes, yes, yes please!!!

So I popped off to Reykjavik for the last week in January and had a whopper trip (which I divulged last week in Vulgo – links at the end of this post!). It was an incredible trip, and convinced me that the connection with the Icelandic people I met to date was a very real connection, not a figment of my imagination. On return Deirdre sent me a message about a fundraiser taking place for a new project called i-to-i. The project is an exploration of the synergies between Ireland and Iceland and will comprise of a series of salons, exchanges, residencies and hopefully resulting in a series of collaborative project. The project is the brainchild of Kathy Scott, who has been to Iceland a number of times, and the first exchange under the name of the project will take place in Dublin on the weekend of 24-27Feb. The website is coming in the next few days and I would sincerely urge anyone with a vague interest in Iceland to check it out.

Everyone I’ve spoken to in the last few months who have previously made trips to Iceland say the same – the energy, atmosphere, inherent creativity of the place bury deep inside you and stays there long after you leave the country. There is a sympathetic psyche between Irish and Icelandic people and at this chaotic stage in the evolution of our society, we should chase any connections that can bring about a more creative approach to all aspects of our lives.

[One last, mental coincidence? – As I write this I’m listening to the John Kelly Ensemble and he just started the programme on a sunny Monday afternoon with Sigur Rós… (Although maybe that’s not entirely surprising as he MC’d the fundraiser last night and Iceland is probably stuck in his head!) ]

My pieces for Vulgo! Dark Music Days 1 on Vulgo – Dark Music Days 2 on Vulgo – Dark Music Days 3 on Vulgo

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