New Season of Performances with Chamber Choir Ireland – Spring-Summer 2023

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We have a bit of everything in store for Spring-Summer 2023! From medieval chant to world premieres of new works by Linda Catlin Smith, Cassandra Miller, Eoghan Desmond, and Áine Mallon, with concerts in Dublin, Cork, LimerickBelfast, and Dundalk.

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming guest directors Sofi Jeannin and Cormac McCarthy, and of course, our own Artistic Director, Paul Hillier; as we celebrate Rachmaninov’s 150th year, perform alongside our friends in the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and bring new musical ideas to life in our Choral Sketches open workshop this season.

In the opening concert of the season on 4th February, Paul Hillier leads us in a programme of works by Jean Sibelius, David Lang and Gavin Bryars exploring the relationship between the romantic and the philosophical: Head, Heart.

Sibelius’ Six Songs presents us with vignettes of life, love and sorrow. A new selection of pieces from David Lang’s love fail—handpicked by the composer himself in collaboration with Paul Hillier—meditates on the timelessness of love in his post-modern take on the Tristan and Isolde legend. Gavin Bryars’ Glorious Hill explores humankind’s capacity for free will. Jean Sibelius’ Rakastava is based on three pieces of Finnish-language folk poetry about the poet’s beloved, the places she makes fairer with her presence, and the couple’s farewell embraces.

Then, in two concerts on 15th & 16th March in Dublin and Limerick, we join forces with the Irish Chamber Orchestra for Amhráin na Naomh, a programme of saintly and sacred music featuring St. Hildegard Von Bingen’s beautiful chant ‘O Virtus Sapientiae’, Sibelius’ Rakastava, Arvo Pärt’s mesmerising and majestic Fratres, and his sparkling instrumental work Silouan’s Song, inspired by the writings of St Silouan.

The evening culminates with the world premiere of Amra Choluim Chille (Dallan’s Elegy for Columba), a new commission from Irish composer Eoghan Desmond. Desmond’s inspiration for this Irish language cantata for choir, strings, harp and percussion comes from Irish traditional music, and includes the well-known Irish hymn tune Columba ornamented in a manner inspired by sean-nós singing. Both concerts are directed by Cormac McCarthy, and are our way of celebrating Seachtain na Gaeilge.

To mark Rachmaninov’s 150th birthday, Paul Hillier will lead us in two performances of his choral masterpiece, his All-Night Vigil, in Dublin on 31st March and Belfast on 1st April. All-Night Vigil is among the most beautiful of all works for unaccompanied chorus, and was a favourite of Rachmaninov. It is regarded as the last great crowning achievement of Russian Orthodox choral music from a composer at the peak of his creative powers.

Later in April, we welcome back renowned choral expert Sofi Jeannin as guest director for Poets, Passion and Peace, to be performed at New Music Dublin on 22th April and at Cork International Choral Festival on 28th April.

Poets, Passion and Peace explores the theme of peace through texts ranging from Sanskrit, Scripture and some of the greatest poets and writers spanning the centuries. The concerts will feature the winning entry in the 2023 Seán Ó Riada Composition, and a new commission by Irish composer Áine Mallon.

In the first phase of this year’s Choral Sketches, three composers selected to participate will work on their initial sketches with Sofi Jeannin and the singers of Chamber Choir Ireland in an open workshop on 20 April as part of New Music Dublin 2023. Choral Sketches—our professional development programme with the Contemporary Music Centre—helps composers apply their unique skills and styles to the art of choral composition and gives audiences unique insight into the creative process.

In the final concert of our Spring-Summer Season, we are delighted to present How to Fold the Wind at Louth Contemporary Music Society Festival on 16 June. The programme is directed by Paul Hillier, and features haunting new commissions by North American composers Linda Catlin Smith (USA) and Cassandra Miller (Canada), and the CCI co-commission from Caroline Shaw (USA), How to Fold the Wind. It marks the start of a new long-term partnership with Louth Contemporary Music Society.

 All of this is made possible with principal funding of The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon, and additional support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.