NCH Presents

After Beethoven Series

Wednesdays 11th & 18th May 2022
Wednesdays 1st, 8th & 15th June 2022

Buy Tickets

This special composer-led series sees leading Irish composers Ann Cleare, Anselm McDonnell, Garrett Sholdice, Ian Wilson and Jane O’Leary respond to Beethoven’s creative legacy. Each concert features a new commission by the composer presented in a concert of their own curation.

Presented by NCH
Funded by the OPW’s Percent For Art Scheme and NCH

Ian Wilson

Programme by Ian Wilson -“Sonatas”

Wednesday 11th May, 7.30pm

Dušica Mladenović, violin
Hugh Tinney, piano

“A quarter million miles from the moon”, Deirdre McKay (vn & pno, 7’)
“Sonata for violin and piano”, Ljubica Marić (vn & pno, 24’)
“Sonnatura”, Ian Wilson (vn & pno, 20’ WP)
“Sonata for violin and piano”, Bernd Alois Zimmermann (vn & pno, 17’)
Composer’s response
Ian Wilson – 
My programme centres on the violin & piano sonata, a format developed by Beethoven from the rather lighter works by his predecessors into something that really works as a dramatic form and an equal pairing of instruments. The programme focuses on mid-20th-century sonatas by Serbian composer Ljubica Marić and German composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann and a new work of my own which seeks a novel way to deal with the essence of sonata form. My piece, “Sonnatura”, took inspiration from the nature element in Beethoven’s work (especially evident in his “Pastoral” Symphony) and the “circle” works by artist Richard Long.

Ian Wilson has composed over 200 works in many different genres which have been performed and broadcast on six continents. He is a member of Aosdána, Ireland’s national association of creative artists, and his music is published by G. Ricordi & Co. Ltd and Universal Edition. 

Pianist Hugh Tinney has made a major contribution to Irish concert life for over forty years, in multiple solo recital series, chamber music series, and frequent concerto appearances.  He has played chamber music with many distinguished individuals and groups. He has recorded solo, chamber and concerto repertoire for several CD labels.

Dušica Mladenović is active as a soloist and chamber musician in Serbia and throughout Europe and is a permanent member of the acclaimed Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra. She has premiered works by Ian Wilson, Dejan Despić, Mirjana Živković, Dušan Radić and many other Serbian composers.


Programme by Anselm McDonnell -“Irish Airs”

WEdnesday 18th May, 7.30pm

Elizabeth Hilliard, soprano 
and The Degani Trio
Alan Smale, violin
Rachel Quinn, piano 
Annette Cleary, cello

Philip Martin: The Maids of Mitchelstown Fancy
Elaine Agnew: April Awake   
Piers Hellawell: Up by the Roots
Jessica Meyer: The Last Rose
Anselm McDonnell: Common Places 
Ryan Molloy: Clearances III
Gráinne Mulvey: Eternity is Now
Joan Trimble: Phantasy Trio 

Common Places sets a poem of the same title by Northern Irish pastor and writer Andrew Roycroft. It is a text which reflects on the beauty of ordinary human situations and events: a topic that resonates even more with me given how these experiences have been changed in recent years. As the text encourages us to look at events anew, the music reiterates a group of ideas from different perspectives to highlight new aspects of them each time they are heard. (Anselm McDonnell)

Anselm McDonnell is an Irish/Welsh composer based in Belfast. He has written over seventy works for a variety of ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, CRASH Ensemble, Chamber Choir Ireland, BBC Singers, Ulster Orchestra, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. His debut album Light of Shore was released in 2021.

Irish Soprano Elizabeth Hilliard is an exceptional singer and is widely regarded as an imaginative and dramatic interpreter of new music. She has worked in close collaboration with composers including Gráinne Mulvey, Jennifer Walshe, Christopher Fox and David Bremner and champions Irish art, music and composers, achieving recognition in the US and UK as well as her native country. 

The Degani Piano Trio is made up of award-winning musicians: violinist Alan Smale (violin); pianist Rachel Quinn, and; cellist Annette Cleary. Alongside recording work of composers such as Haydn, Chopin, Brahms and Piazzolla, they have innovatively collaborated with theatrical and visual artists in live concert settings.

Rachel Quinn has performed critically acclaimed concertos by composers such Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt with Irish and International orchestras. A recording artist in her own right, Rachel has also spearheaded the Degani Piano Trio’s innovative collaborations with renowned theatrical and visual artists, Barry McGovern, Donna Anita Nikolaisen and Kim Sharkey.

Alan Smale is founder of The Degani Ensemble. For 20 years he was Leader of the RTE NSO. He is a great exponent of Irish contemporary music and has recorded concertos by Raymond Deane, Frank Corcoran, James Wilson and Jerome de Bromhead. Alan plays on a superb Venetian violin made by Eugenio Degani in 1896.

Annette Cleary has performed as soloist with the NSO and acted as jury member for International Competitions. Her tutors have included Coral Bognuda, Paul Tortelier, and Antonio Janigro. Annette was a prizewinner at the Barchet International Cello Competition. She currently teaches at the Royal Irish Academy of Music where she recently received her Doctorate.

Anselm McDonnell

Ann Cleare

Programme by Ann Cleare -“Infinity”

Wednesday 1st June, 7.30pm


Enno Poppe Haare for solo violin
Rebecca Saunders  The Underside of Green for clarinet, violin, piano
Judith Ring whispering the turmoil down for clarinet & electronics
Seán Ó Dálaigh Piano Trio
Simon Mawhinney Solo Fingers 2 for solo piano
Ann Cleare Fossil Light for clarinet, violin, cello, piano 
Galina Ustvolskaya Duo for violin and piano

Composer’s response
Ann Cleare -
In his late works, Beethoven realised a striking balance between necessity and freedom, regenerating musical ideas to such a degree that the material becomes almost infinite in its possibilities. Sudden modulations and unforeseen dissonances suggest an attempt to break away, to cross the borders of traditional harmony and rhythm, towards a more expansive form, perhaps what could be heard as a picture of musical infinity.
This programme from Irish, German, British, and Russian composers connect works of the recent past to the developing modernist vision of Beethoven in his late works, particularly the bold, contrasting, driving motifs of these pieces, and their ability to endlessly regenerate into an infinity of musical textures. 

“At night, when watching in wonder the sky with that multitude of luminous bodies called suns or planets which forever circle in their orbits, my soul rises towards those distant stars, towards the prime source from which all that is created draws its origin… But when on occasion I try to give musical form to my excited emotions, I feel terribly disappointed: I fling my blotted sheet of paper with anger to the floor deeply convinced that no mortal man will ever be able to depict in sounds, words or colours the heavenly images that rose before his excited imagination at this moment” - Beethoven

Since its formation in 1990, Ensemble Musikfabrik has had the reputation of being one of the leading ensembles for contemporary music. Following the literal meaning of its name, Ensemble Musikfabrik is particularly dedicated to artistic innovation. New, unknown, and often personally commissioned works in unusual media are typical of their productions. 


Programme by Garrett Sholdice -“Resonances”

WEdnesday 8th June, 7.30pm

Kate Ellis, cello
Isabelle O’Connell, piano

Naomi Pinnock – passing. vanishing for solo cello (2020) 
commissioned by Garrett Sholdice with funds provided by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon
Ludwig van Beethoven – ‘Adagio con molto sentimento d'affetto’ from Sonata No. 5, Op. 102, No. 2 for cello and piano (1815)
Andrew Hamilton – O.A.I.R. for solo piano (2012)
Eva-Maria Houben – Nur ein klang (5) for cello and piano (2009)
Benedict Schlepper-Connolly – *New Work* for solo cello (2022)
Garrett Sholdice – Circling, tracing for cello and piano (2020)

Composer’s response
Garrett Sholdice - 

Circling, tracing for cello and piano is concerned with various kinds of cycles, various kinds of repetition. The materials are fragmentary, husks. The music is, ultimately, static, forever engaged in the observance of a private ritual. Personal, tactile memories haunt these bars, too, perhaps: certain passages of Beethoven resonating up through the keys of my piano; playing slowly, out-of-time, holding each chord in my hand.

Kate Ellis is a versatile musician dedicated to the performance and exploration of all new music. She is cellist and Artistic Director of Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s leading new music group, a member of Martin Hayes’ Common Ground Ensemble, Francesco Turrissi’s Taquin experiments, Yurodny, Ergodos Musicians and the electro-folk group Fovea Hex.

Since her New York debut recital at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in 2002, Dublin-born pianist Isabelle O’Connell has developed an international career that has taken her across four continents. Isabelle has a reputation for being a dynamic interpreter and energetic advocate of music by 20th and 21st century composers, regularly commissioning and premiering new works.

Garrett Sholdice
Jane O'Leary

Programme by Jane O’Leary-“Bagatelles”

Wednesday 15th June, 7.30pm

Xenia Pestova Bennett, piano
Paul Roe, clarinet/bass clarinet
Elaine Clark, violin
Martin Johnson, cello

Elizabeth Lutyens: 5 Bagatelles (1962)
Beethoven: 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126 (1823-24)  piano solo
interspersed with 
Jane O’Leary: Five Bagatelles  (2013)   piano solo

Beethoven - 1. Andante con moto
Jane O'Leary - 1.  gently
Beethoven  - 2. Allegro
Jane O'Leary - 2.  light, sparkling
Beethoven  - 3. Andante
Jane O'Leary - 3.   as if in a dream…softly
Beethoven  - 4.  Presto
Jane O'Leary - 4.   curious, hesitant
Beethoven  - 5.  Quasi Allegretto
Jane O'Leary - 5.   gently, as if muted
Beethoven - 6.  Presto

Ed Bennett: Breath (2006)
Webern: Four Pieces for violin and piano (1910) Op. 7
Webern: Three Little Pieces for cello and piano (1914) Op. 11
Judith Ring: fine feathers far below the blue floor (2011)
Greg Caffrey: Carter Fragment (2011) 
Jane O’Leary: as the wind often does… (world premiere)

This special composer-led series sees leading Irish composers Ann Cleare, Anselm McDonnell, Garrett Sholdice, Ian Wilson and Jane O’Leary respond to Beethoven’s creative legacy. Each concert features a new commission by the composer presented in a concert of their own curation.
Composer’s response
Jane O’Leary -

We focus on Beethoven’s daring in writing small pieces, which he called Bagatelles. While the title implies that these are trivial works; they are in fact personal and probing and helped lead the way towards a variety of different formats used by composers subsequently. One of the most significant composers who adopted this concise form of expression was Anton Webern, whose short pieces for violin and cello are featured. Beethoven’s miniatures provide inspiration for the Bagatelles of Elizabeth Lutyens (1962) and myself (2013). Ed Bennett’s concise trio Breath began life with a reflection on Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio, while both Judith Ring and Greg Caffrey share with Beethoven an attention to detail and motivic obsession. My new work is an exploration of motivic gesture directly derived from the Rondo of his Piano Sonata Op. 10, no. 3, and the title is an extract from one of Beethoven’s letters.

Dedicated to the creation of new music and passionate about sharing it with listeners, Jane O’Leary has enjoyed composing music for soloists, ensembles, choirs and orchestras – often reflecting the landscape surrounding her. Jane has honed her skills through performances with specialist new music ensemble Concorde for over 40 years – exploring sound and listening from within.
Established in 1976 to fill a gap in opportunities in Ireland for listening to new music, Concorde was Ireland’s first new music ensemble, and continues to nurture the creation of new work in collaboration with composers, promoters and listeners.  Over 250 world premieres have been given and more than 100 Irish composers are represented in Concorde’s performances.