The third annual Gracelands festival is taking place on Saturday night in Mimetic House in Leitrim. An eclectic programme of events kicks off at 5pm with a boat trip onto the Lake Isle of Inisfree with a reading by Bea McMahon and then all decamp to the beautiful location in the wilds of Leitrim for an evening’s programme of visual, film, performance and sound art.

At this point I should mention a DOI as I assisted Curator Vaari Claffey with the music programme. Vaari and I had a number of conversations about the nature of curatorial approach to avant garde festivals. I was quite vocal in my criticism of visual arts curators curating often dated and inappropriate sound art pieces that seem to work in one context but completely miss the opportunity to present work actually being created right now. So, with that in mind, and based on the principal of engaging the audience as much as possible in the work, I spoke to a number of performers who I felt would work in that context.

John Godfrey, composer, lecturer and Artistic Director of the Quiet Music Ensemble will present a spatial work engaging with the unique landscape around the house, titled Happy Slugs. In Godfrey’s particular style the sound changes with the listener – “the ‘action’ in this music happens where the sounds interact, so in fact you can hear very different things depending on where you are”.

Composer Dylan Rynhart’s work is one of the most engaging concepts I’ve heard in a long time. After hearing an interview on national radio, which had a deep personal resonance for him, Rynhart got the recording of the interview and notated it for a solo instrument (viola at the time). The performer performs the work, then has the opportunity to listen to the original interview, and after that performs the work again, with the emotional element of the interview now a distinct part of the replaying.

In addition to these works, accordion player and composer Martin Tourish will present a piece he has been working on for a while, called Exegesis. Tourish has been doing a lot of work in recent years deconstructing the traditional form and reinterpreting it within the context of today’s performance.

So, given that this is my first contribution to curating I’m a little concerned about the overall fit of the pieces into the context of the festival, but given the standard of the performers it should be an excellent event! Check out the schedule for full info on all the work in the festival! (And yup, that’s me in the short hair and red batman backpack!!!)

About aisling

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