Great Music in Irish Houses Renamed as Dublin International Chamber Music Festival

Soprano Elizabeth Hilliard will give the world premiere of Gráinne Mulvey's 'Great Women' on 18 June; she is pictured here in Kilmainham Gaol Museum to launch the festival and new name. (Photo: Mark Stedman)

Great Music in Irish Houses Renamed as Dublin International Chamber Music Festival

2021 event will be streamed from 17 to 21 June and includes the premiere of Gráinne Mulvey's 'Great Women' and David Fennessy's new guitar concerto performed by Sean Shibe and the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

It was announced last week (27 May) that the annual Great Music in Irish Houses Festival has been renamed as the Dublin International Chamber Music Festival.

The event is Ireland’s oldest chamber music festival. It was founded in 1970 by David Laing and took place in historic houses and buildings around the country for five decades. The festival was originally titled Music in Great Irish Houses. 

Commenting on the change of name, Executive Director Laurie Cearr said:

The festival has flourished over the last half century, subtly changing its name nine years ago to Great Music in Irish Houses to allow for a more diverse platform for performances. Its now international reputation for creative programming, espousal of international artists and promotion of Irish musicians, allied to the fact that the majority of its venues are now in and around the capital, makes a strong case for it to be renamed once again.

The Dublin International Chamber Music Festival’s Artistic Director is Ciara Higgins and this year the event will be streamed online from 17 to 21 June. It opens with a concert by Finghin Collins from Farmleigh House performing an hour-long recital of music evoking the sounds and colours of morning, afternoon, evening and night. Featured composers include Schubert, Gerald Barry, Amy Beach and Clara Schumann.

On Friday 18 June from St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle, soprano Elizabeth Hilliard will give the world premiere of Gráinne Mulvey’s Great Women, which has been commissioned by the festival with Arts Council support. The work is a celebration of women activists who have shaped modern Ireland and sets words by Countess Markievicz, Rosie Hackett, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. The performance will be preceded by an online launch of a CD of the work.

On Saturday, cellist William Butt will give a solo concert from Rathfarnham Castle featuring Rautavaara’s Sonata for Cello Solo and Bach’s Cello Suite No 1. The Carducci Quartet and tenor Robin Tritschler will perform works by British-American composer Rebecca Clarke (Poem for String Quartet) and Beethoven (String Quartet No 1) as well as British composer Edmund Rubbra’s song cycle Amoretti on Sunday 20 June in a performance from St Jude-on-the-Hill church in Hampstead.

On Monday 21 June, Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe and the Irish Chamber Orchestra will give the world premiere of David Fennessy’s new guitar concerto Rosewoods. The work was commissioned by both the orchestra and festival to celebrate their 50th anniversaries last year, but was unable to be performed due to the pandemic. Works by Malcolm Arnold, Errolyn Wallen and Grieg will also feature in the concert, which will come from Castletown House, where the festival originally began.

The Dublin International Chamber Music Festival will also feature ‘Musical Postcards’ from artists who live abroad and could not join the festival this year. These include violist Rosalind Ventris in London performing Elisabeth Lutyens’ Echo of the Wind, Amanda Feery’s Boreal and Thea Musgrave’s In the Still of the Night; clarinetist Carol McGonnell in Berlin playing works by Béla Kovács; and pianist Philippe Cassard in Paris performing Debussy and Ravel.

The Postcards performance and the Elizabeth Hilliard concert are free to view. Tickets for the concert events are €10 or €5 (students/unwaged).

For further details and booking, visit

Published on 1 June 2021

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