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Composing the Island

An exciting new centenary project, Composing the Island: A century of music in Ireland 1916-2016 , has been launched by Heather Humphreys, Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht. Over three weeks in September (7th – 25th), Composing the Island will present 29 concerts of orchestral, choral, instrumental, song and chamber music by Irish composers written between 1916 and 2016.

The generous support of Bord na Móna has enabled RTÉ and the National Concert Hall to give this musical story the attention it deserves as a major cultural flagship for the Ireland 2016 centenary programme.

How this music developed, and the times and circumstances in which it was written will unfold over 3 weeks of concerts which will include 6 major orchestral concerts performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Over the course of the festival, almost 200 works by some 90 different Irish composers will be performed and recorded for broadcast; with additional concerts of choral, chamber, song, mixed ensembles and instrumental music recitals, alongside a series of supporting talks, related events and an accompanying published book.

Many of Ireland’s leading performers will take part. They include Crash Ensemble, Chamber Choir Ireland, Concorde, Vanbrugh Quartet, Fidelio Trio, Hugh Tinney, and Robin Tritschler and, given the vital role played by the army musicians during the early years of the state, a performance will be given by the Band of the Defence Forces School of Music.

Highlights include
  • The earliest orchestral piece, an Irish Rhapsody from 1914 by Charles Villiers Stanford, friend of Brahms and Offenbach, teacher of Vaughan Williams and Holst.
  • The newest orchestral composition, c, commissioned by RTÉ especially for Composing the Island from Birmingham-based Dubliner Andrew Hamilton, whose teachers include Kevin Volans, will premiere at the festival.
  • A new work by Ian Wilson, exploring the human, personal aspects of 1916 through the last words of the captured leaders of the Rising.
  • Additional world premieres by Ronan Guilfoyle, Philip Hammond, Stephen McNeff and Eoghan Desmond.
  • A century of choral music with Chamber Choir Ireland.
  • Two recitals of The Irish Song Book with Robin Tritschler and Rachel Kelly.
  • The groundbreaking string quartet by Frederick May, one of the most individual statements from an Irish composer in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Other significant chamber music from across the century played by the Vanbrugh and RTÉ Contempo quartets and Fidelio Trio.
  • Striking recent orchestral works including Donnacha Dennehy’s Crane with its title reflecting that symbol of the construction boom of Celtic Tiger Ireland; and Stephen Gardner’s NEVER…NEVER…NEVER drawing its title from a famous Ian Paisley speech protesting against the signing of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.
  • Recitals by leading Irish pianists Hugh Tinney and Michael McHale.
  • ‘Here and Now’: 21st century music in the Crash Ensemble new music marathon.
  • RTÉ Cór na nÓg presenting music written especially for children’s voices since 1980
  • Festival finale with the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in a choral concert that brings Composing the Island back full circle, with two works from the 1920s by now largely forgotten figures, Norman Hay and Rhoda Coghill.

View the Composing the Island Brochure

Bord na Mona    Supporting the Arts Ireland 2016    The Irish Times