New Irish music (from the violent to the sensuous)

Enda Bates

Before travelling to Poznan to represent the AIC in our international exchange with Poland's Sepia Ensemble, composer ENDA BATES discusses the nature and character of contemporary Irish music, with specific regard to the selected works programmed by Artur Kroschel, director of Poland's Sepia Ensemble, for performances in Dublin and Poznan, as part of the Association of Irish Composers' 2015 series.

Dublin Programme, Hugh Lane Gallery, February 1, 2015

Enda Bates — From the Cusp of Sleep

Ed Bennett — My Broken Machines

John McLachlan — Extraordinary Rendition

Judith Ring — Svelte Belly at Dawn

On the selected works

"I think there are some commonalities. Perhaps this idea of 'interruption' is maybe something we notice in these four pieces — in a very everyday sense in my own piece, just about those thoughts that run away from you as you're trying to sleep, and then perhaps in a much more violent fashion in the case of Ed Bennett's My Broken Machines and of course, John McLachlan's piece Extraordinary Rendition. So I'm not sure if they represent Irish contemporary music in general, but of course on the other hand, they do. They certainly represent these four composers."

On the violent and the sensuous in music

"So my own piece, From the Cusp of Sleep, is for string quintet, which is quite unusual in chamber music, and it's quite a soft piece in many respects. It's about those trains of thought that run through your head at night as you're trying to sleep, and about these certain systems kind of breaking down at certain points. And I think that's maybe also a theme in Ed Bennett's My Broken Machines which was released on album of his I think maybe two years ago. And it's an interesting piece again – periods of stillness and calmness interrupted by quite violent outbursts. John McLachlan's piece then, which he will talk about during the concert, Extraordinary Rendition - so about illegal kidnapping and torturing – the musical language kind of reflects that, again it can be potentially quite violent at times. And then finally, on the Irish side of the programme, Judith Ring's Svelte Belly at Dawn, which I think is perhaps the most sensuous piece, I guess, on the Irish programme in a way; very luminous colours, and works very well in the beautiful space here in the Hugh Lane."

On Irish compositional styles 

"Many Irish composers have that kind of versatility. I think there's a couple of reasons for that. I suppose on the one hand, we're on the western edge of Europe, so we feel this pull both from the UK and from continental Europe, but also from the United States. And so I think then in terms of Irish composers, there's quite a diverse range of styles and aesthetics which reflect all of these different influences. I think it's also true that maybe there isn't a very, very long, strong tradition, say, of contemporary music in a historical sense in Ireland, which I think means there isn't one dominant aesthetic in Irish contemporary music. So we do see quite a wide range of different styles, different voices, different languages, which I'm will come a cross in the programme today, and also in the programme in Poland, which is an all-Irish programme."

 Poznan Programme, Aula Nova, February 28, 2015

 Mary Kelly — Mime

Siobhán Cleary - The Whitening

John McLachlan — Extraordinary Rendition

Gráinne Mulvey — entropy

Jenn Kirby — Moments

Enda Bates — From the Cusp of Sleep

* * *

John Buckley — Winter Echoes

Judith Ring — Svelte Belly at Dawn

Ed Bennett — My Broken Machines

Andrew Hamilton — Frank O’Hara on the phone piece


Enda Bates is a composer and committee member of the AIC. He teaches Spatial Audio and Electroacoustic Composition at Trinity College Dublin.