The Centre for Composition and Contemporary Practice
Trinity has a time honoured and illustrious record in music composition which in recent times has expanded to include a focus on bridging the gap between the normal acoustic environment of concert music and the cutting-edge developments in music technology. The recently established Centre for Composition and Contemporary Practice is providing a new platform to consolidate Trinity's position at the cutting edge of contemporary music.
The Department of Music in the School of Drama, Film and Music at Trinity has educated some of the most prominent and successful Irish musicians of our time. Ireland’s first chair in music was established in Trinity in 1764 and has been occupied by such practicing and well-regarded composers as Ebenezer Prout (1835–1909), Robert Prescott Stewart (1825– 1894), Hormoz Farhat, (b. 1929), and Brian Boydell (1917–2000). The Department is now home to the talent of internationally recognised composers such as Donnacha Dennehy (also artistic director of the Crash Ensemble) and the newly recruited Evangelia Rigaki.
Successful younger contemporary composers emanating from Trinity include Jurgen Simpson (winner of the Genesis Prize in opera composition in 2003, and also head of music technology at University of Limerick), Linda Buckley, Enda Bates (shortlisted for the prestigious Gaudeamus Prize in Amsterdam in 2009), Benedict Schlepper-Connolly (also co-editor of Journal of Music in Ireland), Jonathan Nangle (also head of Music Technology at Royal Irish Academy of Music) and Judith Ring (winner of the renowned Luigi Russolo Prize for electro-acoustic composition in Italy in 2000).
The impact of music technology has made a major impact on the direction and scope of the study of music. Trinity has been in the vanguard of this transformation since initiating the MPhil in Music and Media Technologies in collaboration with the department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering over a decade ago, graduates of which are now among the leading practitioners—both artistic and technical—in Ireland and abroad. The interdisciplinary offers students great scope to orient themselves within the broad area of Music and Audio Engineering, Composition, Performance, and their relationship to New Media and to specialize in those aspects which they find most interesting
Trinity's music programme is unique in Ireland in the range of what its graduates are equipped to do, in practical studies and participation, as well as in academic work. This breadth is borne out by the careers of graduates, which include notable success as composers and arrangers for the concert platform, stage, cinema and television. Other practical careers include principal players in several orchestras in Britain, Ireland and elsewhere, the leader of the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and several players who are national names in traditional and popular music, the latter including Eleanor McEvoy, Julie Feeney, and David Kitt.
- The Centre is providing a forum to fuse Trinity’s long history of instrumental and vocal composition with the desire of its current academic staff to produce active, practical composers equipped for the burgeoning music of the 21st century;
- It is building upon the highly successful and interdisciplinary MPhil programme in Music and Media Technologies, which has, more than other such course in the country, put a high premium on creativity;
- It is ideally placed to form collaborations with other initiatives in the School of Drama, Film and Music such as the Arts Technology Research Laboratory and Lir, the National Academy of Dramatic Art;
- It is forming a dedicated outlet for the expertise of internationally recognised composers in the School such as Donnacha Dennehy (also artistic director of Ireland’s leading new music group, the Crash Ensemble) and the newly recruited Evangelia Rigaki. Plans are underway to recruit more teaching and research staff of international renown in composition. Moreover, the Centre is benefiting from the presence of a Fulbright Scholar for this academic year, a world leading composer from Princeton, Professor Dan Trueman;
- The centre is housing an ensemble-in-residence, Ensemble Avalon, which is interacting with the student body both in structured courses and in organizing performances and workshops of the ongoing work being produced at the centre;
- Three outstanding Irish composers have been appointed as new Adjunct Professors to the Centre, Gerald Barry, Bill Whelan, and Kevin Volans. Not only will students benefit from one-to-one contact with these international leaders in the field but also modules will be developed to concentrate on diverse topics such as Music for Dance, Contemporary Techniques in Music Composition, Practical Film & Music Composition, Opera, and music incorporating Irish and/or ethnic influences;
- The Centre is a creative platform for the existing PhD students in composition producing their work in major venues at home and abroad, while also serving to attract new students of composition of the highest calibre.
- In addition to offering courses in music composition at undergraduate and graduate level, a structured masters in composition is planned which it is envisaged will become part of an integrated PhD programme;
- Eventually it is envisaged that the centre will be housed in its own state of the art building containing a modern (and technologically adaptable) performing space.
Gerald Barry is internationally regarded for a series of groundbreaking operas from The Intelligence Park to the most recent, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. He is at present finishing The Importance of Being Earnest for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As adjunct professor at Trinity, he will be an inspiring figure for the students in its new Centre for Composition and Contemporary Practice.
Kevin Volans rose to international prominence with his string quartets White Man Sleeps, Hunting Gathering and Songlines. His music has been promoted by some of the major performing groups of our time, such as Kronos Quartet and the London Sinfonietta, and has been performed at most of the major international venues, including Lincoln Center (New York), Wigmore Hall, and South Bank (London) as part of a festival to mark his 50th birthday.
Bill Whelan is known throughout the world for Riverdance, which has played everywhere from Beijing to New York. Other landmark compositions include The Seville Suite and The Spirit of Mayo. Bill Whelan also has enjoyed a hugely successful career as a producer and arranger (working with the likes of Kate Bush, U2 and Van Morrison) and as a composer of film music (including Lamb, Some Mother's Son and Dancing at Lughnasa).
Prof Dan Trueman
Dan Trueman is Associate Professor of Music at Princeton and is visiting Trinity for the academic year 2010-11 as a Fulbright Scholar. During his visit to Trinity, he will be collaborating with traditional fiddler, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, and composing a piece especially for the Crash Ensemble. This will be premiered as part of Crash Ensemble's Spring 2011 season. Prof Trueman is a composing performer on both the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and 6-string electric violin. His duo Trollstilt released its first CD of original tunes in 2000 and has performed widely at both contemporary music festivals and folk music festivals. As an improviser, he performs regularly with interface, an electronic improvisation ensemble. As a composer of concert music, Prof Trueman has completed commissions (most of which include him as a performer) for the American Composers Forum (Hardanger fiddle and orchestra), the Society for New Music (electronic chamber ensemble), the Tarab Cello Ensemble (8 cellos), and the American Composers Orchestra. He co founded the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) for which he has composed several works, including a piece for tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, Trueman (on Hardanger fiddle) and So Percussion.
Ensemble in Residence
Ensemble Avalon has been appointed as the Allied Pension Trustees (APT) Ensemble in Residence at Trinity in partnership with Dublin City Council, the Hugh Lane Gallery and the National Concert Hall. Ensemble Avalon is a fresh and dynamic piano trio featuring three of Ireland's finest internationally accomplished soloists and chamber musicians. As Trinity's first ensemble in residence, Ensemble Avalon will interact with the student body both in structured courses and in organising performances.
Linda Buckley’s music has been described as “strange and beautiful” (Boston Globe) and as a “fascinating interaction between live sound and electronics” (Irish Times). The diverse instrumentations of her work include Javanese Gamelan, choir, multi-channel tape, prepared piano and orchestra. Her music has been performed by the Dresden Sinfoniker Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, Fidelio Trio, Orkest de Ereprijs, Janus Trio, Rothko Trio and Rolf Hind, and at international festivals including the Seoul International Computer Music Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music at MassMoCA and the Gaudeamus Music Week, Amsterdam. Upcoming commissions include a new work for the National Symphony Orchestra, and for Ergodos Voices at Issue Project Room Brooklyn. Linda is an adjunct lecturer at Trinity and also completing her PhD in music composition.
Enda Bates is a composer, musician and producer, and lectures on the MPhil Music, Media and Technology course. His research work includes spatial music composition and performance, the aesthetics of electroacoustic music, and the development of spatialization techniques such as Ambisonics and multichannel granulation algorithms. His music includes both acoustic and electroacoustic contemporary music and multi-channel, tape based pieces, and the use of spatially distributed sounds is a major feature of his work. He has received various commissions and awards including the 37th Florilege Vocal de Tours, the 2008 Irish National Choir of the Year competition, the 2009 Gaudeamus Music Prize shortlist and the 2010 Música Viva Competition. His work has been performed by the Crash Ensemble, the Doelen Quartet, Trio Scordatura, the Dublin Guitar Quartet, the Bridgewood Ensemble, New Dublin Voices, the Miso Music Loudspeaker Orchestra, the Spatial Music Collective, and at international festivals including the Música Viva Festival, Portugal, Gaudeamus Music Week, the Netherlands, the International Computer Music Conference and the Dublin Electronic Arts Festivals (DEAF07, 08 & 09).
A lecturer in Music, Donnacha Dennehy is an internationally recognised composer as well as being artistic director of Ireland’s leading new music group, the Crash Ensemble. He has received commissions from, among others, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Dawn Upshaw, Icebreaker, Joanna MacGregor, New Noise London, Orkest de Ereprijs, Orkest de Volharding, Percussion Group of the Hague, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra (BBC Radio 3), Smith Quartet, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Other noted performers include the group he founded, Crash Ensemble, Ensemble Intégrales, and the London Sinfonietta.
Dr Evangelia Rigaki is a newly appointed lecturer in composition. She has written opera, music theatre, instrumental music, dance, theatre and film music. She has completed a postdoctoral research on music-theatre/new opera practices at Humboldt Universität Berlin (awarded by the European Networwork for Musicological Research), and a PhD in Music Composition (exploring notions of theatricality in music) at University of London.
Recent performers of her work are the BBC Singers, EXAUDI, Chroma Ensemble, Damien Harron, Rolf Hind, David Alberman, Stuart King, Danae Stefanou, Richard Alston Dance Company, Darren Ellis Dance Company and Opera Studio Minailo. Among other venues, her works have been performed at the Operadagen Rotterdam Festival, the Opera of Thessaloniki, Aldeburgh, the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival, the Darmstadt Studio Concert Series, Cheltenham Festival and Queen Elizabeth Hall.
- Unpacking the Trailer a composition by Dan Trueman
- Feature on Donnacha Dennehy and the Crash Ensemble on WNYC (New York public radio)
- Feature on Danish Radio on Donnacha Dennehy's recent orchestra piece, Crane, which was awarded a recommendation in the 2010 International Rostrum of Composers in Lisbon
- From Drums to Lights: Concert and Exhibition of 2010 graduates in MPhil in Music and Media Technologies