Irish Canon thoughts: Kate Ellis

Cellist and Crash Ensemble artistic director KATE ELLIS writes about her experience as the AIC-CMC Irish Artist-in-Residence at the 2014 soundSCAPE Festival in Italy, and as a performer in the AIC Irish Canon Concert Series

Impressions of soundSCAPE
A unique festival dedicated to the performance and study of new music. A bustling hub of students and professionals living and working together for 17 days in the Italian sunshine at the edge of a beautiful lake.

My own experience
Hearing the music of over 20 new composers for the first time. Being reminded of the pure joy and excitement that a live performance of new music can bring.

Fascinating late-night talks about performance practices, composer stories and recommendations over a delicious five-course meal on top of a mountain. Talking to very keen ears about my own musical practices and discussing new music in the context of themselves as performers and composers and being in awe of their sheer determination, engagement and thoughtfulness.

Meeting of minds with American cellist Felix Fan and a special duo performance of Redshift by Barry Guy. Proudly presenting a programme of new music from Ireland to a totally dedicated audience with ears wide open.

The Irish canon
Playing a new work more than once has and always will be an essential part of my own programming and performance practice as a dedicated interpreter of all new music. For me, performing a piece for the first time is only the start of a very long process of development of that piece. That development includes my own personal relationship and understanding of the piece both musically and technically, and, in order to achieve that, the strengthening of a very necessary relationship between composer and performer. By the second, third, fourth, fifth performance, you are really only starting to represent and reveal fully the ideas and vision of the piece.

The AIC, as a body of composers, share the same belief. They are showing their continued support for this belief with their initiative The Irish Canon. This initiative has seen a large selection of Irish works being performed multiple times over the past year at various venues around the country.

The Irish Canon is an ongoing project that sees some of Ireland’s top performers bringing specially selected programmes of Irish works to universities and venues across the country. With this series, the AIC seek to create a new canon of Irish works by ensuring multiple performances of music by Irish composers, and taking the first steps toward making them repertoire standards. Each programme is chosen by the performer as the best representation of the current Irish repertoire for their instruments. See

Main photo (at top): Kate Ellis, right, performing with Linda Buckley (also pictured), Laura Sheeran, Caithriona Cannon and Josh Johnston, as part of Trailblazers, Aha Moments and Sonic Wonder, Unitarian Church, Dublin, February 2012. Photo by Sam Bishop