Irish Canon thoughts: Paul Roe

Clarinettist PAUL ROE shares his thoughts on the AIC Irish Canon Concert Series


On the importance of the series
The series is important as it creates a template for other individuals and organisations to be inspired by and to develop further. It creates a forum for the performance of a range of works by Irish composers for a solo instrument, bringing with it the possibility of hearing how different Irish composers work within the same medium. It gives performers the opportunity to play new works on a number of occasions.

Thus, the works themselves develop their personalities beyond the immediate compositional and performance challenges that inevitably accompany both the creation, and the re-creation, of new work by both composer and performer. In other words, the new works breathe and live as they unfold in each new exposition.


The evolution of the canon
Music is always growing, just as we as humans continue to change in this impermanent world. Fixity is an absurdity. Trust and let go.


Learning about the music 
Each work has its own personality waiting to be discovered. This can be achieved when both performer and composer get out of the way! 


Audiences and audience development
I think a crucial focus needs to be on nurturing the performance of new music, as, without performance, composition operates within a creative vacuum that could be considered a conceptual cul de sac. When it comes to developing audiences, there is a role composers could and should play in supporting performances of new music. It disappoints me greatly that many composers only turn up when their own music is being performed. Be committed to supporting audience development, and get behind the performance of your colleagues' work. In my opinion, we all need to support, practically, the composition and performance of new music.


Connections and disparities in Irish clarinet writing
Some over-conceptualising, some great experimenting, some misunderstanding. Lots of imagination-colour. At times, needless abstraction. Great potential for reimagining what composing (for the clarinet, and in general) could be without too much intellect, with more heart, more fun. A joy to be at the centre of this journey.

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): Paul Roe, with soprano Elizabeth Hilliard, performing at the AIC Irish Canon concert series launch, Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin, November 2013