by / March 26th, 2012 /

Top Story: The Score: contemporary and classical news

The Score this month is a mix of new faces amongst the old, with visiting musicians playing alongside ensembles whose names are nigh unavoidable in the small world of new music…

It’s difficult to avoid mentioning the Crash Ensemble in any post about Irish contemporary music. It’s a small world, and with ten fingers for each player, that’s a lot of pies to get stuck into. Next month’s Crash gig though is one of the highlights of the contemporary music’s calendar, Free State 7. Free State is an annual concert with a program of exclusively up-and-coming Irish composers, and has established itself as an indispensable showcase of Irish musical talent: it even tags itself as “the future of new music in Ireland”. This year’s programme is a mix of names regular on the scene and relative newcomers, with works by Garrett Sholdice, Conal Ryan, Daniel McDermott, Jonathan Nangle, Eric Skytterholm Egan, Sebastian Adams, Emma O’Halloran, Enda Bates, Donal Sarsfield and Linda Buckley. This year also sees a significant change, hopefully indicative of the new Irish music’s increasing acceptance by both the established classical audience and the public, with the concert taking place in the main auditorium of the National Concert Hall. It takes place on the 5th of April, and tickets are available from www.nch.ie.

The Irish Composers’ Collective March concert on the 29th features the most ubiquitous of classical instruments, the piano. Interestingly though, this gig features two performers playing seven new works for piano duet: an underexplored ensemble with a refreshingly visual element. Two pianists clambering around one piano is a welcome break from the stiff-backed player trapped behind his instrument. The programme runs from explorations of the fleeting __ of life to considerations on Jupiters moons to Irish airs, and should be a balance of the dramatic, the ephemeral and the intense. The concert takes place on the 29th of March at the National Concert Hall. (Note: this writer is involved in this concert)

The Quiet Music Ensemble, one of Ireland’s more experimental musical groups, with a penchant towards immersive experience and exploratory collective improvisation, have launched a Call for Scores for original works for the ensemble to be workshopped in May and performed in June. The QME, as well as dedicating themselves to an almost holistic exploration of our relationship with sound and music, are dedicated to increasing the profile of “underexposed” composers. Anything non-conventional is preferred, i.e. music that explores the musicians’ abilities, unconventional scoring, improvisation, and of course, sound itself. The deadline is the 5th of May.

Sticking with the experimental and improvised, The Concert Hall is home this month to another very intriguing piano concert, Monologue by Kekko Fornarelli on the 22nd of March. In his battle to further the potential of the “classical” piano sound, Fornarelli is putting on a concert of internal dialogues, externalised through exploration of the full range of timbres, tones, and intentions of the piano. Presented by the Italian Institute of Culture.

On tour this month are regulars to the contemporary circuit, the Fidelio Trio, also joined by a clarinetist, this time Carol McGonnell. Though known for premiering new works, particularly by Irish composers, this tour features mostly 20th century works. A programme of Brahms Trio in A minor Op. 114, Bartok’s Contrasts for Clarinet, Violin and Piano and Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is nevertheless stunning. The Fidelio Trio with Carol McGonnell visit Dublin Castle’s The Coach House, Waterford’s City Hall, Callan in Co. Kilkenny, Birr Theatre and Arts Centre, the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoighire and finally Castleconnel in Co. Limerick. For more details see www.fideliotrio.com

It’s not often there are new explorations in the world of opera, and it’s difficult to decide if The Weeping Flowers can be considered such in the first place…but it is a fantastic concept, a kind of aria sampling, making writer Gerard Dalton a kind of opera DJ Shadow. A new musical play, fusing together well-known arias and duets from 19th and 20th century operas to create a new story, The Weeping Flowers goes a long way toward making classical opera more widely available and appealing to an audience beyond the diehard opera-goer. The Weeping Flowers premiered at The Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghir last week. www.theweepingflowers.com

The TCD Music Composition Centre may be university based, but anybody interested in delving beyond the surface of contemporary music is welcome to their events – and every one so far has promised to deliver on insight as well as simple enjoyment of the music. And, of course, they’re free. The final two events of the term include an open rehearsal and talk with the Mornington Singers performing a programme of Arvo Part, Julian Anderson, David Lang, Ian Wilson and Paul Flynn on the at 7-8.30pm on the 29th, and what sounds like a very interesting talk by Wolfgang Marx on Ligeti and “Nonsense Madrigals” at 4-6pm on the 5th April. www.tcd.ie/music-composition