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National Concert Hall and Sounding the Feminists Announce Winners of its Female Commissioning Scheme on the Eve of International Women’s Day 2019

Media Release 7th March 2019

Today, Thursday 7th March 2019, on the eve of International Women’s Day, the National Concert Hall (NCH) together with Sounding the Feminists (STF) are delighted to announce winners of its Female Commissioning Scheme; namely Jennifer Walshe (established composer) and Claudia Schwab (emerging composer). The Scheme aims to provide opportunity to established and emerging composers to have their work commissioned and performed at the NCH.

The Female Commissioning Scheme is part of the a five-year partnership initiative with NCH and Sounding the Feminists, established in 2018 and supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under the Creative Ireland programme with co-funding confirmed in the form of €20,000 a year, over five years. That makes it a significant contribution to promoting the work by female musicians and composers. The performance dates for this year’s winning commissions will be announced at a later date.

Josepha Madigan, TD Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said: “I wish to congratulate both composers on their success in the Female Commissioning Scheme. I am proud that I was in a position to support the Scheme which is part of a five-year partnership initiative with NCH and Sounding the Feminists, established in 2018 and supported under the Creative Ireland programme. My Department’s support of €100,000 in funding over five years will make a significant contribution to promoting the work by female musicians and composers”.

Speaking of the initiative Maura McGrath, Chair of the National Concert Hall said: “Today’s announcement is a significant one. Last year we embarked on an ambitious curatorial and commissioning programme in a newly announced five-year initiate with Sounding the Feminists with support from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Creative Ireland programme to whom we are very grateful. I am delighted that today we are in a position to announce details of the winners of the commissioning scheme and to celebrate the- arts on International Women’s day eve with a concert of music by female composers of the baroque period, performed by Irish Baroque Orchestra as part of the Female Composer Series. The NCH together with STF will continue to develop and enhance opportunities for female composers and musicians in Ireland, across musical genres. This partnership initiative is key to delivering on that promise”.

Karen Power, Chair of Sounding the Feminists said: “Sounding the Feminists is thrilled, and our movement empowered, by the number of extraordinary voices of all ages and experience who came forward and applied for these commissions. Perhaps for us the biggest success lay in discovering a multitude of new and extremely high-quality voices across different music disciplines throughout our Island. Final selection was an extremely difficult but rewarding task and in the end it is vital to remember that this is just the 1st year of a 5-year opportunity…so keep writing. This 5- year partnership between STF and NCH is an essential one in instigating real and lasting change. This is not about simply presenting music by women, but is a movement towards lasting equality.”

Jennifer Walshe is a well-known respected and established composer. Her proposed composition and performance will see a work for ensemble and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for which she will collaborate with machine learning specialist Memo Akten. Akten proposes to train a neural network on a wide range of videos and recordings of Irish music as well as material from the National Folklore Collection. The piece allows Jennifer to confront the idea of what ‘Irish music’ is, raising critical questions about nationalism, representation and exclusion.

Claudia Schwab, from Sligo is a multi-award winning composer and musician who graduated with an MA in Ethnomusicology, UCC in 2013. Since then Claudia has written her own works and performed on numerous recordings and collaborated with a range of cross-genre artists both established and emerging. She released her debut album in 2014 followed by her second solo album ‘Attic Mornings’ in 2017. Her winning composition - ÓN SLIABH - VOM BERG - hopes to “add the female sound world of a contemporary Ireland in which diverse cultural backgrounds are realised as a potential for exciting new intercultural creations”.

The NCH and STF initiative sees the co-presentation of a Female Composer Series which seeks to reveal the work of female composers and highlight women who have been active but hidden as composers over the centuries, with reference to the context within which they were working. The second initiative is the Female Commissioning Scheme, winners of which we are delighted to announce today. The third strand sees both the NCH and STF focus on the diverse range of works of female artists working in today’s contemporary music space and it is envisaged the programme will see not only concerts but workshops, residencies and collaborations to further enhance creation and promotion of work by female artists. Details of this be announced in due course.

For further information please contact: Sinéad Doyle, Marketing & PR Manager, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. Sinead.Doyle@nch.ie Tel: 01 417 0057/ 0871775334 or Grace Tallon, Sounding the Feminists, gracemarytallon@gmail.com

Note to Editor
On the back of Female Commissioning Scheme award STF, with generous support from IMRO, are running a series of workshops targeting the emerging strand to assist in how to make a place for themselves in music. Further details: https://www.soundingthefeminists.com