Dé Céadaoin, Iúil 07, 2010


Here is a charming little paragraph from Paul Muldoon - his 'Author's Statement':

'I'm afraid I can't come up with anything wonderfully witty and wise to say about my work, except to wish that it displayed a shade more wit or wisdom.

The truth is that I hardly ever read it, let alone theorise on it. I'm much less interested in what I've done, which almost certainly amounts to very little, than with what I might do which will almost certainly not amount to much more.

I'll keep trying, nonetheless.'

Dé Luain, Meitheamh 07, 2010

Premiere of new vocal work 'Aisling Airt Mhic Cumhaigh'


DATE: 28th June 2010
TIME: 8.30PM

This June 28th the Irish Composers’ Collective will present the eight beautiful voices of the Blue Bulb Music Vocal Ensemble. This unique all female choir will premiere works by Natasa Paterson, Solfa Carlile, Laura Kilty, Johanne Heraty, Ryan Molloy and Denis Wyers.

The concert will take place in the exquisite ambience of the Kevin Barry Room in the National Concert Hall. The Irish Composers’ Collective is a non-profit organisation that aims to provide Irish composers with a community for information, education and the pooling of resources in order to create concerts of their music with professional musicians.

Tickets €12 and €10 (student ID must be presented to obtain discount) may be purchased from the National Concert Hall Box Office online at www.nch.ie , in person or by telephone +353 (0)1 4170000. This event is in association with The National Concert Hall and supported by the Arts Council

For further information contact:

ICC Marketing Manager,

Dé Sathairn, Márta 20, 2010

West Cork Chamber Music Competition

I have just received news that I am one of three winners of the West Cork Chamber Music Composition Competition (www.westcorkmusic.ie) with my string quartet 'Third Epistle to Timothy' (see Third Epistle to Timothy for more info)!! Amazing! The piece will be workshopped in Cork on the 27th June and premiered during the Festival later in the week. Keep an eye on the Performances section of the website for more info.

Dé Céadaoin, Eanáir 28, 2009

Béla 'Wow' Bartók

Not able to concoct any kind of sensible mental rambling, I'd like to share with you something that Bartók wrote in his Harvard Essays which resonates strongly with me and my attempts to use Irish music in contemporary contexts:

'It is an amazing phenomenon that just the archaic features [of folk music] will admit of a much wider range of possibilities in harmonizing and treating melodies or themes of the pentatonic kind, than would be the case with the common major or minor scale melodies.'

In the Cambridge Companion to Bartók, Stephen Erdely writes of Kodály:

'Kodály’s experiences of field collection revealed that folksong does not have a ‘genuine’ form of the kind that amateur collectors hoped to discover in perfect, most beautiful shape; for the genre lives and spreads in variant forms which may show greater or lesser similarity. The tune or poetry may remain stable in one village and appear in diverse forms in the next. Melody, rhythm and structure may endure or show unusual diversity, for folksong is basically an idea which is re-created anew in each performance and by each performer.'

I'm very slowly discovering that a lot of the path I wish to tread or empathise with has already been travelled - not in any kind of 'burned out' manner but merely that it is possible to understand the spirit of folk music and not to feel some kind of injustice when marrying it with contemporary music. The hitherto conceived idea that there is no communication, or rather no possibility of communication between the two cultures, no longer has any substance. But yet I can't help but feel it...

What is my music?

Dé hAoine, Nollaig 05, 2008


I was at a concert last night which had a predominantly Romantic programme, with one modern piece thrown in as the token Irish offering, all of which struggled under an unusually poorly voiced Steinway.

Upon leaving, I overheard two old men conversing as they waddled. One of them said, "That modern work...what a waste of manuscript paper!"

It leads me to think - what exactly are we up against? Who will we ever please, or should we try to please, if it all?! Should I care if no-one understands the colours I use or why? Of course, everyone is individualistic to some extent - but what's the use in trying to communicate to people who don't open up to communication of this sort. So, essentially, we communicate to ourselves in the hope that someone will overhear and understand.

Dé Domhnaigh, Iúil 27, 2008

Sætre Brygge

It's finished. I used to be a real advocate of dispensing with pen and paper to compose; now, I know that I'm not composing properly if I use only the computer.

I'm beginning to learn to use Sibelius properly - as a notational tool and not as a playback tool. The playback needs to be in your mind. The rest will simply flow out if it is.

I have also realised that I can't write descriptions of what I write very well. Below is part of the programme note for Sætre Brygge. I think I hide in the music. Is this a good thing? Should I be able to communicate what exactly I have done through music?

There's still a need to justify things to others it seems.

"It was once said to me that a composition is a postcard. Not merely a pictorial postcard, but also an emotional one – here a description of the emotions that I encountered on an entirely random trip through what seemed an untouched landscape at the end of a Scandinavian winter.

When I choose a postcard, I often find that it’s not representative of the place. I chose it because of how I felt there and then and what it meant to me there, much to the bewilderment of the recipients!

Still, windless, soft, solid, enveloping, comforting, penetrating, discomforting, caressing, silent…

The atemporal icescape is empty yet it fills you. With what is hard to say, but it slowly pulls you away, freezing your conscious thought, leading you to that subconscious flow which we fleetingly access from time to time.

My words never explain fully enough what I mean to write, which is why I write."

Dé Sathairn, Iúil 26, 2008

Mise Éire

It's been well over six years since I last added anything to sibeliusmusic.com but today I've added my first proper composition. I wrote a bit when I was in my teens, as many musicians do, but on hindsight it was nothing but rubbish on a monumental scale. Why haven't I taken it off the site? I suppose as it meant something then - also a bit of a self-reassurance, hoping that I've progressed since then.

I think I've now started in earnest to develop things I've been gabbling about for years. I hope! Irish music has brought a lot to my life, in fact it has shaped a lot of what I produce in various ways. I now aim to use that toolkit to produce my own music, hopefully reproducing within it something of myself.

Mise Éire score

Transcribing music

I never realised how much freedom a pen and paper could give you.

It's all a case of computer-says-no at the minute.

Today I have been largely procrastinating - doing anything to avoid work. Creating a blog, not a bad way to avoid work. I even bought a suit!