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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musical nostalgia

I spent a chilly afternoon on Saturday last in the warm surrounds of the Concert Hall, at the 16th festival of youth orchestras. The event is presented by the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras, and I was delighted to be invited to the first half of the day in my capacity as Music Capital Scheme Manager for Music Network.

Two of the orchestras featured during the 3pm performance were previous recipients of the Music Capital Scheme; Sligo Academy of Music and Coole Music Youth Orchestra. It was pretty amazing to witness first hand the far reaching effects of the scheme, in the hands of young musicians. The Sligo Academy of Music purchased a heap of new instruments with their award, including bassoon, timpani and percussion. How many youth orchestras do you know that have a bassoon player, let alone their own bassoon?! The works they chose to perform in the NCH gave each performer a platform to show off their abilities on the new instruments. It was very clear why they requested funding for percussion as they have some stellar young drummers in the orchestra. One in particular (I don’t know which of the names listed!) was a steady rock behind the very young orchestra in a rendition of “I can’t get no (satisfaction)”. Brilliant!

The whole day was an intense exercise in nostalgia for me. My first ever time in the National Concert Hall was during a previous Festival of Youth Orchestras when I led the Tipperary Millennium Orchestra in our first year together. Very few experiences in my life at that point compared to walking out onto the stage of the NCH with the whole orchestra there waiting to get stuck into our chosen works, and friends and family in the audience. I had a huge lump in my throat when MC Seán Rocks introduced the leader of Fingal County Youth Orch – Aisling Lawson. I swear she was a carbon copy of my young self on the stage! Her solos were sweet and lyrical, and sang out through the overall orchestral sound. I was simultaneously delighted for her appearance on the stage of the NCH and proud of my young self for having been there once upon a time.

After the performance I had a brief chat with Seán about the nature of the event and we both recognised it’s importance for young orchestral players and felt the crazy energy of the day, with so many young people in the hall. We had a brief chat about the piece by Roger Doyle, commissioned by Greystones Youth Orch & Newpark School of Music String Orch. The work required no sheet music for the young players to bury their heads in and as a result they were more connected with the conductor than most youth orchs. Doyle seemed to me to understand the nuances of working with very young musicians and the piece explored their abilities to let go with their instruments and explore the huge variety of sounds they are able to create. Doyle spoke with Seán Rocks after the performance and mentioned that the title of the piece – Deep End – was a tribute to the orchestra’s ability and willingness to “give all to the work and dive right in”. It would be wonderful to see more composers writing for youth orchs and provide them with an inherent understanding of the compositional process and of the availability of new music in orchestral playing in Ireland, before their musical spirits are broken by the limits of the second level music syllabus.

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Big Up!

For the first time since I started blogging a few years ago I’ve been nominated for the Irish Blog Awards!!! I’m on the long list (emphasis on the word long in that sentence!) but am thrilled that even one person thought it was worth throwing my name in there!

Thank you!


(And I’ll use all the exclamation marks I want – I reckon they’re justified in this case!)

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Happy New Year (yeah, yeah, I know…)

I was right in my prediction that I wouldn’t get to another blog post before the new year. In fact, I’m only just getting to it now. So many things have happened in the last little while that I’m struggling to remember all of them. Here are a few short notes:

In the coming months I’m hoping to start contributing to new online cultural journal Vulgo. It’s run by two extremely experienced and competent friends and I can see if getting increasingly popular as more people get familiar with it. I’m going to be looking at new music features. (By the way, I adore the pic of green-eyed Laurie Anderson on the homepage this week!)

I’ve been invited to attend Iceland’s Dark Music Days next weekend in Iceland. It was a last minute invitation and I’m verrrry excited! I’ve never been to Iceland before and have heard so many good things about it. What I’ve noticed is that the only people who I know that have been to Iceland before are all artists and musicians. I think that bodes really well for both my visit and for Ireland/Iceland connections! Any suggestions for my trip are welcome!

I have never had any reason before to use bandcamp but just got a link sent to me by collective that I think performs under Matt Longo but I’m not 100% sure if that’s the name of the collective or the main singer. In any case, I really like the group and the description I was sent of their sound – “woozy, orchestrated music” – is perfect! I’m way to exhausted now to give any sort of articulate review but definitely check them out if you get a chance.

I’m doing my damnedest to keep an eye on my grammar, but I write these posts at the very end of the day, when I’ve finished all of the things I get paid (or I’m paying in the case of my Masters) to do. So please excuse me (Mum!) if I occasionally forget to dot my “t”‘s and cross my eyes…

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Christmas Post

I’m hoping I’ll have the time/presence of mind to do a post before the new year so this won’t be my last post of 2010. I’m making no promises on that front though.

I finished up the Music Network end-of-year frantic tidying last week so that I could concentrate on family and home things this week. I’ve been holding a deep secret for about three months now – MY BROTHER IS HOME FROM OZ FOR CHRISTMAS!! I was the only family member that knew, and he and I spent the last week surprising my three other sisters and my parents. It’s been pretty amazing. Enough tears to float the Ark!

So, onto business – there are too many of those epic end of year posts in blogging so I’m just going to do a regular one. Two bits of news that I wanted to share are:

Crash Ensemble just advertised the most incredible job. I know it’s been a desperate year for employment in Ireland but I saw two jobs that I had seriously coveted come up for grabs in the past few months. One was the position of Music Programmer in The Model, Sligo. The second is this position with Crash. Apart from those two, there were a heap of other jobs – full-time and part-time, contract and permanent – that I would have considered. The reason I didn’t apply for any is that I have a Plan (yes, with a capital letter) and I’m sticking to it. But seriously, that position with Crash is pretty “woah” for the right person. I know Frances will be a hard act to follow but it’s an enormous opportunity.

In other news, a few friends of mine are after launching a new online cultural magazine called Vulgo. I haven’t had a chance yet to ask them about the name but plan on doing so in the new year when I talk to them about the magazine. Until I do that, I’ve just been looking over the content and it seems a good mix of video, text, audio and photography. More on this in the new year but I for one will be watching with interest.

For now I’m taking full advantage of a break from classes and work and am off to watch Jamie Oliver’s Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

a x

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