Latest Awards and Commissions (June 2020)

Aideen Barry has been commissioned to create a new work inspired by the Edward Bunting harp music collection.

Latest Awards and Commissions (June 2020)

A round-up of recent awards and commissions with news from Crash Ensemble, New Ross Piano Festival, the Irish Traditional Music Archive and Music Network, the Department for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Opera North.

Bunting Commission
Music Network and the Irish Traditional Music Archive have commissioned visual artist Aideen Barry to create a new, multi-media art work titled Oblivion / Seachmalltacht / ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ  and inspired by the Edward Bunting harp music collection. Barry, who is a member of Aosdána and the RHA, was awarded the €15,000 commission after an invitation for proposals was issued by Music Network and ITMA last year. 

The work will see her collaborating with Inuit throat singer and electronic musician Riit, Irish harper Elaine Hogan and artist Margaret O’Connor to create the new multi-disciplinary project, drawing parallels between  Edward Bunting’s preservation of ancient Irish music and the existential threat to all human culture and existence.

Oblivion / Seachmalltacht / ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ will premier at the Limerick City Gallery of Art from December 2021 until February 2022 and will also feature a live performance by Ritt and Hogan in December 2021. 

CEO of Music Network Sharon Rollston commented: 

We’re very pleased to have awarded Aideen Barry this commission in partnership with ITMA. It builds substantially on a previous Music Network project in 2016 which took the Bunting Collection as its inspiration. A significant part of this project involved Music Network documenting solo performances of the 66 tunes of Volume 1 of the Collection, in ITMA’s recording studio. The resulting bank of audio-visual recordings – by 10 of Ireland’s leading contemporary harpers – acted as a catalyst for further exploration, with ITMA, of new ways to introduce this important collection, and the musicians who perform it, to wider audiences through an exciting cross-disciplinary approach.

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Crash Composer in Residence
Crash Ensemble has appointed Andrew Hamilton as its new Composer in Residence. Hamilton, who recently premiered a new work as part of Music Network’s Butterfly Sessions and who will release a new solo album on Ergodos next week, has been commissioned by Crash to compose a concert-length work for the group. His residency will see him spend time with the ensemble rehearsing the work and he will also act as mentor to the composers of the Free State #13 project. 

Commenting on the announcement, Hamilton said:

I am really delighted and honoured to be the new composer in residence with Crash Ensemble. From the first piece I wrote for Crash back in 2003 (a weird music theatre piece called i like things) through to music for people who like art and music for donkeys who like music I have always felt so supported and fortunate to be able to work with such great musicians and administrative staff. I have spent so many happy hours with these lovely people and recently in two workshops I finally got the chance to sing and play amongst them! I really look forward to the new work planned for the ensemble and for the months ahead.

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New Ross Piano Festival Young Composers
In March, New Ross Piano Festival announced a new competition for young composers in response to the pandemic restrictions. The competition invited composers aged 15 to 21 to write a new work for piano, with the winning piece from each of two age categories to be performed at the festival in September. 

The winning composer in the 15 to 18 category has been announced as Donnchadh Hughes from Dundalk, with his composition ‘Music in the Tuileries’, while Harry O’Connor from Kenmare is the winner of the 19 to 21 category, with his work ‘Introduction and Dance’. Hughes wins a prize of €200 and O’Connor wins €300. 

Artistic Director of the festival Finghin Collins said: 

I was amazed by the high standard of entry in both categories. Many of the pieces would be worthy of the prize, and it gave me great pleasure to read through them. There was a great variety of styles, including influences of jazz, impressionism and minimalism. Some of them were challenging and ambitious while others were simpler and more innocent. In all, a great deal of individuality and fresh thinking. I found it very rewarding and enriching. It wasn’t easy to pick winners and in the end it became rather a personal choice between the most accomplished two or three pieces in each category. Thank you to all the young composers for entering and to their parents and teachers for supporting them. We look forward to the performance of the two winning pieces at the next piano festival. 

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Markievicz Award Recipients
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan has announced the recipients of the 2020 Markievicz Award, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the appointment of Constance de Markievicz as Ireland’s first female cabinet minister in 1919. The bursary, which is now in its second year, aims to commemorate Markievicz while also providing funding for artists to produce new work that reflects the role of women in Irish society. The five recipients of the 2020 Markievicz Award are Cal Folger Day (music), Amanda Coogan (visual arts), Belinda McKeon (theatre), Julie Merriman (visual arts) and Joanna Walsh (literature). Each will receive an award of €20,000. 

Cal Folger Day is a Dublin-based American songwriter, guitarist and pianist whose work The Woods and Grandma, a pop-opera about Lady Gregory, won Dublin Fringe Festival’s Little Gem award in 2017, and was later developed into a radio documentary on RTÉ Lyric FM. She is currently working on a newly commissioned musical for Dublin Youth Theatre that will be directed by Tom Creed. 

Commenting on the awards, Minister Madigan said:

The arts were pivotal in the struggle for freedom, and have also been seen to play an important role today – both providing important inspiration and hope in a difficult time, but also reflecting and recording these historic times.  The stories of contemporary women, their experiences and their massive contribution will no doubt inspire the artistic community to develop new and original work over the period ahead, and the Markievicz Award will help to support artists in so doing.

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Opera North’s Sound Journeys for Lockdown
As part of BBC Arts and Arts Council England’s ‘Culture in Quarantine’ programme, Opera North has commissioned five artists to compose and record new works, specifically to be listened to whilst walking. 

Walking Home: Sound Journeys for Lockdown will cover a variety of genres including folk, jazz, Middle Eastern and African traditional music, classical and contemporary. The five commissioned composers are cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe, qanun virtuoso Maya Youssef, oud player and composer Khyam Allami, violinist and songwriter Alice Zawadski, and accordionist and composer Martin Green of the folk trio Lau.

The artists are currently writing and recording their pieces in home studios across the UK and Europe. The new works will be broadcast on BBC Radio and television, through BBC Sounds podcasts and on the BBC Arts website.

Opera North’s Head of Projects Jo Nockels said:

The spark for the Walking Home commissions came from the strange alchemy we found between walker, place and music that was powerfully evident in the past sound journey commissions we have made for the Humber Bridge and River Tyne. While these five new walking commissions are on a much more intimate scale, and meant for wherever you are, all five respond to the dynamic of walking, listening through headphones and taking in your surroundings to produce an experience as much created by the listener as by the artists.  They might offer a soundtrack to a daily escape from lockdown; intensify the sensations experienced on their chosen route; or conjure up something altogether harder to define.

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For May appointments in music, see here.

Published on 4 June 2020

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