A new organisation based in Dublin hopes to promote regular concerts of chamber music. Many of the city’s professional musicians are active in the the Irish Chamber Music Society (ICMS), which will be launched with during a festival of chamber music over 9–12 June 2011.
The viola player Lisa Dowdall was prompted to form the society after returning from Switzerland, where she had lived for a period. ‘I was amazed to find so many professional musicians getting together to play chamber music in their homes,’ she wrote to The Journal of Music. This could have to do with musicians having more time in the absence of many professional engagements, suggests Dowdall, but it was ‘mainly because the artistic outlet chamber music gives to musicians is unrivaled by any other discipline’.
The aim of the ICMS is to assist musicians who enjoy playing chamber music to overcome the challenges of staging concerts for the public. ‘The real pity,’ writes Dowdall, ‘was that to put on one concert took so much work to organise with so little return that none of these groups were going to play in public on a regular basis. Every time one ensemble played a concert, there was no continuity of venue or audience, so each time was like starting from the beginning.’
While the society will largely consist of existing groups, it will also serve as a pool of musicians for members to draw from in order to form new ensembles, or to perform certain works.
The ICMS operates as a collective, with the musicians involved in the running of things ‘as much or as little as they like’; the society’s website, for example, was built by the trumpet player Lee Butler. In the future, however, the ICMS hopes to hire a manager to oversee the production of events, since at present all members volunteer their spare time to contribute to the organisation. Though it hopes be able generate much of its income from ticket sales, the ICMS is currently receives support from the Arts Council and RTÉ Lyric FM.
With its launch festival, the ICMS hopes to build a steady audience for chamber music in Dublin, but it also hopes to expand its activities throughout Ireland so that musicians can tour programmes around the country. As well as finding an audience for chamber music, it is hoped that the society will encourage more people to form chamber music groups of their own. ‘My biggest hope is that having a society like this which gives performance opportunities might encourage more people to … learn repertoire they have always wanted to play,’ says Dowdall.
The ICMS’ launch festival, which features, among many others, the Cashell Trio, William Dowdall (flute), Cora Venus Lunny (violin), Kate Ellis (cello) and the Callino Quartet, will take place in three Dublin venues – the National Concert Hall, the Sugar Club and the Freemasons’ Hall. Each concert is programmed by the participating musicians. ‘In true chamber music style, there is no hierarchy in this society,’ writes Dowdall.
Published on 1 June 2011