dwyer_coverA number of interesting new publications and recordings have appeared in the area of contemporary Irish music.

Ben Dwyer’s Different voices: Irish music and music in Ireland is something of a landmark publication in that it captures 60 years of compositional life in Ireland via interviews with a number of composers. These range from Seoirse Bodley (b. 1933), the first Irish composer to bring the postwar European avant-garde to this country, to Dorone Paris (b. 1988) whose work is closely tied to a critique of contemporary gender issues and politics. The title Different voices aptly reflects the diversity of approach and style among the composers selected.

Coupled with this is an extended section  revisiting the historical context of Irish music. Here Dwyer strongly contests the prevailing narrative which claims that art music failed to develop in Ireland because of the stifling effects of Irish nationalism: it was, he argues, more likely a combination of poor infrastructure, colonial mismanagement and institutional sectarianism.

The Association of Irish Composers (www.composers.ie) has recently launched a new online music journal at www.aicnewmusicjournal.com  with the aim of raising awareness of Irish composers’ work, and broadening the discussion and analysis of new trends in contemporary Irish music. The first issue has articles by Fergus Sheil on opera in Ireland, Gavin Maloney on trends in new Irish orchestral music and Sebastian Adams writing on the Irish Composers’ Collective.

Two new CDs of piano music have issued recently: Gothic, performed by Mary Dullea features music by Jonathan Nangle, Benjamin Dwyer, David Fennessy, John McLachlan, Gráinne Mulvey and others, and, in the words of the performer, “is a result of relationships built and developed over two decades and presents a wide range of sonorities, inspirations and exploration of the role of the performer.”

Deane - Noctuary (CD cover)We have also recently acquired a CD of Raymond Deane’s Noctuary performed by pianist and RIAM professor Hugh Tinney. Raymond Deane writing on his website describes Noctuary  as “the latest of my works to explore the sense of lateness, of ‘coming after’, characteristic of our time. Noctuary was commissioned by Hugh Tinney with funds from The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, and is dedicated to Hugh – “the ultimate philosophical pianist.”