Seán Ó Riada Competition, Album Launch, & Upcoming London Performances (Jan/Feb 2024)

When I was working in Paris last year for my residency with the Centre Culturel Irlandais and CMC Ireland, I was mostly working on my new piece for the London Symphony Orchestra, Politics of the Imagination. I met the fantastic author Tim MacGhabhann while I was there and we bonded over a similar taste in music, particularly the guitarist Rory Gallagher. Tim has a book of poetry about an imaginary Rory Gallagher concert (the book is called Rory Gallagher – Live! – from the Hotel of the Dead). Inspiration struck, and after Tim very kindly agreed that I could use his text, I wrote short choral piece called Gallagher, which weaves some subtle hints of famous guitar riffs into a setting of Tim’s rich poetic imagery. Recently, I was delighted to hear the piece has won the Seán Ó Riada Competition and will be performed in the Cork International Choral Festival by Chamber Choir Ireland on 3rd May 2024. You can read the festival announcement here, an RTÉ news article here, and this coming Sunday BBC Radio Ulster will broadcast an interview about the new piece between myself and John Toal (Classical Connections programme, listen here).

My album Kraina, a collection of songs on the theme of home and displacement, releases today on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms! It’s been an amazing journey creating this, my second album, and I’m grateful to all of my collaborators for their work on this music. You can buy the album here, or listen to it on Spotify here. There are two upcoming events in relation to the launch: on Monday 26th Feb Kelli-Ann Masterson premieres one of the tracks, Moving House, at the National Concert Hall (who commissioned the piece for the Jerome Hynes Award). On Friday 22nd Mar Kraina will have a launch event at Queen’ University Belfast with a live performance by Rebecca Murphy and Cahal Masterson singing movements from the song cycle Kraina. I recently had a chat with Luke Clancy on RTÉ Lyric FM’s Culture File programme about the concept behind the album, and you can listen back here.

Apart from that I’ve been working the past few months on upcoming music! The main project has been my collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra, where I am a Jerwood Foundation resident composer for 2023/24. My new piece, Politics of the Imagination, is a 25-minute theatre piece for three rap artists, trio, visuals, and electronics. My adventurous and imaginative co-creators in this project are three stellar rap artists from Birmingham: Joel the Custodian, Barrowclough, and Kosyne. It will premiere at LSO St. Luke’s on 9th March, and the trailer for the event is below. I’ll also be conducting the piece! Terrifying…