Chamber Choir Ireland on Amplify podcast with the Contemporary Music Centre

On this week’s episode of Amplify, the podcast produced by the Contemporary Music Centre, Jonathan Grimes and Evonne Ferguson share festival highlights from New Music Dublin 2023.

The episode includes interviews with composers in this year’s Choral Sketches programme, who brought their new musical ideas to an open workshop with the singers of Chamber Choir Ireland, guest director Sofi Jeannin, and their mentor in the programme, Rhona Clarke as part of New Music Dublin. Choral Sketches is a career development programme for composers looking to build their skills in writing for choir, and bring their unique styles to choral music.

“I’ve approached this with the point of view that I can have a blank canvas to try out a variety of different things, with an idea of something that I will want to go on and create. For me it’s been the opportunity to try out different contrasting things, see how they manage as an ensemble, see what I prefer, and what we can actually work with.”

– Conor McGlone, Choral Sketches composer

Rhona Clarke, renowned Irish composer and mentor on the programme, spoke to Evonne Ferguson about this open workshop—the first public stage in a year-long creative process for the selected composers:

“Well, first of all, these singers can—and have—sung pretty well everything and anything, so they have the full range of possibilities in their armoury already. So we know that unless the composers write something absolutely outrageous, that they’re going to be able to sing it. […] I thought the way Sofi handled the workshop was just so beautiful, the musicality of each piece was addressed. […] It was all to do with musical detail and musical possibilities arising out of each score…”

– Rhona Clarke, Choral Sketches mentor

Jonathan Grimes spoke to Áine Mallon about her new commission, Beloved, which had its world premiere at New Music Dublin:

“We just had the performance of my piece Beloved that I wrote for Chamber Choir Ireland. It’s a setting of the second canticle from the Song of Songs, and it was just a completely stellar performance. […] My grounding is very much in trad music, and so it tends to find its way into a lot of my pieces. That [opening] melody in particular I really love, because it sort of comes back throughout the piece. It is the voice of the Beloved’s partner, and so you hear it in the beginning really distantly, and when he is finally at her door, and telling her to arise and come away, you then hear the words along with the melody itself.”

– Áine Mallon, composer

Hear an extract from Áine Mallon’s Beloved, as well as snatches of Choral Sketches by Conor McGlone, Timothy Doyle, Brian Keegan, in this week’s episode of Amplify by the Contemporary Music Centre.