Composers in the Classroom – Garret Sholdice

Composers in the Classroom is an education project presented by Chamber Choir Ireland & The Contemporary Music Centre that brings established Irish composers into second-level schools throughout the island to coach students in the creative process of composing for a choir. 

Previous participant and composer Garret Sholdice reflects on his early involvement in the project and his composition career.

I was a boy chorister in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. I remember singing at an evensong service one summer evening, and getting to the end of a piece of music and feeling a kind of “ekstasis”. I think this is my first conscious memory of being really “moved” by music. Around this time, I began composing. I remember improvising music at the piano, thinking: “Music is endless – this is something I could do for the rest of my life…”

I think I was probably 12 or 13 when I fixated on the idea of making music my life, somehow.

It was wonderful to encounter professional composers at a young age, and encouraging for me, I think, since I was pretty determined that this is what I wanted to do. It was equally wonderful and empowering to compose for the National Chamber Choir, and have the work taken seriously.

I have tended to compose what has been described as “spacious”, “meditative” music. I don’t consciously try to continuously compose hushed, ritualistic pieces – but it seems to be a place I keep returning to instinctively. I think I am always searching for an elusive sense of focus, immersion, transcendence.

The high points for me tend to be situations where performers make something of my music that I didn’t even imagine. Performances by London vocal ensemble EXAUDI, pianist Michael McHale, and vocalist Michelle O’Rourke stand out in recent memory.

Following on from the success of Composers in The Classroom in 2016/17 which saw over 40 young composers from schools throughout Ireland come together to create a brand new canon of choral music, Chamber Choir Ireland and the Contemporary Music Centre are delighted to embark on the 2017/2018 programme of Composers in the Classroom.