Heresy Records has released this fantastic video about The Wexford Carols, featuring Caitríona O'Leary, Eric Fraad, Sir Tom Jones and Rosanne Cash talking about how the project came about and why it matters.
Heresy is about to release their recent recording of the beautiful carols on 4 November. They represent Ireland’s greatest home-grown Christmas music and perhaps the last major collection of folk carols in English yet to be recorded and introduced to the public.
The album is the result of O'Leary's long-held fascination with these songs, and her investigation and into this rich tradition. Her research unearthed many of the original melodies to the still-extant lyrics, melodies believed forever lost to time.
Since October, new texts, conversations, quotations, photos are posted on the website http://quinonceperche.blog.rai.it where Andrea Molino has recently launched the blog on “a matter of things – conversations for a different theatre”.
The blog is in Italian and English and open to free contributions at any stage of the conversation.
News from Conductor Joseph Wolfe in Japan
Joseph Wolfe is currently conducting in Japan - on Saturday he conducted the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall.
The programme included: Mozart: Symphony No.36 in C major, K.425 "Linz"
Elgar: String Serenade in E minor, op.20; Enigma Variations, op.36
From Tokyo on Sunday Joseph wrote: ...the concert last night with the Tokyo City Philharmonic went really well. Players and audience loved it. The Opera City Concert Hall is beautiful and sounds great too.
I'm off to Takasaki today and start work with the Gunma Symphony orchestra on Tuesday with two concerts on the weekend which will be recorded for radio. Sibelius 5 and Elgar violin concerto.
The birth of a new work
Recently I was invited to sit in on the first rehearsal of a new composition. There’s something very special about watching musicians working out how to approach a new work. It’s even more special when that work is still in the process of being written and the composer is also present.
Last year the wind quintet, Cassiopeia Winds, decided that they would like a new work and John Buckley was their composer of choice. John, who is one of Ireland’s leading composers, instantly agreed and so (with the aid of a very welcome grant from the Arts Council) he started work this June on what is his second wind quintet.
The rehearsal was taking place in St. Patrick’s Teachers’ Training College where John Buckley lectures. It was a very wet Wednesday afternoon and the rain was drumming on the windows of the rehearsal room as the musicians arrived. The five members of Cassiopeia Winds are among the top wind players in the country and have played together in different ensembles for many years. Two of the players have actually been playing music together since they were in 11 year olds and so the banter between them is always amusing.
John Buckley passed around the scores of the first movement, said a few words about it, asked for some feed-back on the layout and then left the players to work through the four pages of the first movement. As an observer, this part of a first rehearsal is like watching a very intricate jigsaw being assembled. At first there are just notes and very gradually patterns emerge. From the time the music is placed on the stands, the banter gives way to serious discussion – “what speed will we rehearse this movement at?”; “how are you counting that 5/8 bar – is it 2 and 3 or 3 and 2?”; “let’s take that again from bar 15”. Eventually, John Buckley is invited back in to hear his first movement…
I wish I could have stayed on to hear the rest of the rehearsal but duty called and I had to get back to my office. However, despite the rain and appalling traffic I got back to my desk in high spirits. Watching the birth of a new work is wonderful and this particular new work is vibrant and exciting and I feel very honoured to have been given the experience.
Cassiopeia Winds will take John Buckley’s new quintet on tour this autumn with performances taking place in:
Birr Theatre and Arts Centre on Saturday 7 November at 8pm
Tullynally Castle, Castlepollard, Saturday 14 November at 8pm
The Black Abby, Kilkenny, Sunday 29 November at 3pm
Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, on Tuesday 8 December at 8pm
St. Peters Church of Ireland, Drogheda Thursday 11 February (2016) at 7.30pm
Wind ensemble Cassiopeia Winds are making their way down to Co. Wexford today for a weekend at the New Ross Piano Festival.
The Festival is directed by Irish pianist Finghin Collins, and features some top-class guest performers such as Lise de la Salle and Melvyn Tan, alongside Cassiopeia Winds. The ensemble will feature in no less than four concerts across the weekend, with repertoire from Caplet, Rimsky-Korsakov, Poulenc and Mozart.
This comes at the same time as more good news for the quintet, as player Matthew Manning has also been appointed Principal Oboe at the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. And later this month horn player Cormac Ó'hAodáin will perform a concert of music by emerging Irish composers with the Irish Composers' Collective.
See below for Cassiopeia Winds' concert and programme details, and for more about the festival, see www.newrosspianofestival.com
A new music company has been set up in Ireland to help promote and support artists and projects working in non-mainstream areas.
Ensemble Music, established by musician duo Rob Kearns and Rob Farhat, aims to bring together their experience in classical, contemporary and pop music with good business, marketing and production support. The company is operating as something in between and around a music production company, artist management and potentially even a label – by recognising that the current industry needs a shake-up and people to approach it from a new perspective, Ensemble are taking the first step in rejuvenating the business.
The main artists working with the company at this early stage are Zaska, Loah, Téada Orchestra, Nova Collective and Kirkos Ensemble, representing a mix of styles and approaches typical of current Irish music. Ensemble will launch at the end of the month with a concert, followed by the first fully staged performance of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale in Ireland for more than thirty years. More information on Ensemble Music can be found at www.ensemble.ie
LAM wishes Ensemble the best of luck with their new initiative.
Two items of news appeared over the past few weeks that do not give hope to new music followers and creators.
Sound and Music, the UK's national new music agency, released the results of their composer survey, which asked composers about their careers, income and commissions. The results are not heartening for new music: as we all know, arts organisations across the world have suffered cuts upon cuts over the past few years, and contemporary music is struggling under their weight. The survey found that the average annual commission income in 2013 was 2,717, and only 15% of those surveyed earned more income than in 2012. In the words of Sound and Music's chief executive Susanna Eastburn, 'the evidence implies...that the work of composers (and composers as a profession) is valued far less by the sector than that of performers, conductors and administrators.' Read the full article here.
Soon after, a report - also published in the Guardian by Susanne Eastburn - emerged that the BBC deliberated omitted new music performances, including Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Sonanace Severance, from their broadcast of the Proms. Again we have an institutionally-reinforced lack of respect for both new music creators and audiences, an assumption that newly-composed music is only for the elite, the few and the niche. Read the full article here.
Composers will continue to create music, but without the support of institutions changing attitudes towards both its creation and presentation, doing so becomes more and more of a struggle each year. What are the first steps we need to take to make this happen?
In its monthly news letter on 3 July, the Arts Council of Ireland, An Chomhairle Ealaíon, announced the publication of the report of the independent review group, chaired by Terence O'Rourke, The report, named Inspiring Prospects (from Act One of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett), is available for download from the Arts Council website at http://www.artscouncil.ie/uploadedFiles/Inspiring-Prospects-Report-2014.pdf. The group was "tasked with examining how the Arts Council addresses its remit at a time of significant change so as to inform its strategic planning for the medium to long-term development of the arts in Ireland."
The report runs to 32 pages and will be examined in detail by the Arts Council over the coming months in order to develop its next strategy. There are many issues which, in my opinion, are controversial as well as challenging and occasionally contradictory - however, it is a document that should be essential reading for anyone with an interest in how this country develops one of its most dynamic industries.
I, personally have a big problem with section 7 of the report which is headed 'Quality' and advocates, what it refers to as 'the international norm' of peer assessment. I don't believe that this is a forward thinking policy - it simply serves as a mechanism that removes the Council from a vital part of the decision making process. It is also a policy that, in a country as small as Ireland, is prone to conflict (and mutualities) of interest. Peer assessment may be appropriate in decision making for scientific and academic publication but I do not believe that it is fit for purpose in the assessment of artistic quality.
Some fantastic shots of Celso Antunes at the Campos de Jordao Festival in Brazil, where he taught young choral conductors as well as leading the Coral do Festival in the closing concert, April 2014.
Read more about the Festival here: festivalcamposdojordao.org.br
Kamerata Kronstadt is a newly-established chamber orchestra, founded and conducted by Cristian Orosanu. Having played their inaugural concert at the Sala Patria there just two months ago, the orchestra are already establishing a solid reputation in Brasov, Romania (where Orosanu is also Principal Conductor of the city's Philharmonic Orchestra).
Since their January launch - a programme of Vivaldi and Mozart with soloist Alexandru Tomescu (violin) - the orchestra also performed a concert in February at the same venue, with Razvan Stoica (violin) as soloist playing Piazzolla and Grieg. This month's concert takes place on the 30th, this time with a cello soloist, Razvan Suma.
Conductor Andrea Molino has been nominated under the Best Opera Conductor category of the 2014 Green Room Awards, Australia's premiere arts awards.
Established in 1983, the Green Room Awards honour outstanding talent in all areas of theatre and the stage in Australia, including musical theatre, opera, circus, alternative and hybrid, cabaret and dance, and reward achievement in performance, production and direction in these areas.
Molino has been nominated as Best Conductor for his season of The Masked Ball (Un Ballo in Maschera) with Opera Australia in 2013. Critics described this as 'a night to remember', and said of Molino that his 'thoroughly idiomatic reading of Verdi's score is electric, fully alert to the musical moments that prefigure later works like Don Carlo and Aida. His visceral interpretation packs a real dramatic punch yet he pulls back and supports his singers with sensitive rubato when required' (Clive Paget). Read more reviews here: www.lundstrom-am.com/breaking-news/Un-Ballo-reviews.html