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Trinity Long Room Hub’s inaugural Artist in Residence premieres first composition

Michael GallenA new musical work composed by the Trinity Long Room Hub’s inaugural Artist in Residence, composer Michael Gallen, was premiered in a live performance at the institute on October 19th 2016. Rivers Unseen is the first of a two compositions that Michael will be creating as a part of his residency in the Trinity Long Room Hub.

Rivers Unseen was composed in response to three paths of research being undertaken in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute as well as the architecture of the building itself. While the Tonnta Vocal group, directed by Robbie Blake, performed to the large gathered crowd on the third floor of the Hub, the soloists, Michelle O'Rourke (mezzo-soprano) and Lina Andonovska (alto flute) moved freely through the building, with the sound of their playing floating up through the atrium from the invisible spaces below.

The performance was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Dr Nicholas Johnson, the new Convenor of the Creative Arts Practice Research Theme, one of Trinity College Dublin’s Arts and Humanities led research themes. The panel, which featured the researchers who collaborated with Michael for Rivers Unseen, spoke of their approach in collaborating with Michael, while the composer spoke to the audience about his conception and the key themes behind the work.

Michael spoke of his influences for the piece, both within the research and within the structure of the building, some of these themes include borders and invisible movements.


The audio and visual embodiment of their research was something which clearly moved Michael’s research collaborators. Deirdre Dunleavy, a PhD student in the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, observed that it was ‘overwhelming to see your research in a way you never thought it could be interpreted.’

She said that the voice coming from different levels (throughout the building) very much captured the idea of separateness in terms of her own research on the minority language identities in Northern Spain but that the harmonious moments were also evident.

‘Michael knew a lot of the process I was going through with my research and the development of my research. I’m looking at border areas in Northern Spain between different speech communities –the minority languages of Spain and Castilian - and how they interact. I think that really came across in the music.’

This theme of unity and separateness in all human experience was also reflected in the research being carried out by Mary Stefanazzi, a PhD student from the School of Religions, Peace Studies and Theology, around the letters of Carl Jung and Victor White. ‘I never thought of music in how I could explain my research. I was struggling with how to convey so much richness in Jung’s work and theology and the Aristotelian tradition. When I met Michael we talked about the passion and the struggle; the confusion and rows and the joy – everything were in those letters and that engagement. As the work developed over the year and as I got to know Michael, it really highlighted how, for all the research that’s happening, you begin to wonder is everything the same if we scratch deep enough under the surface. That’s the essence of what Jung and White have been trying to tell the world.’

Rivers UnseenAnother of Michael’s research collaborators was Dr Nicole Volmering, an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Irish and Celtic Languages. As Nicole reflected:

‘A lot of the interaction Michael had with my research was based on the material I actually wrote. He has a copy of my dissertation on Medieval Irish Vision Literature. It’s only now that I’ve heard the piece that I can really see the imagery that Michael took from that……..the soloist coming up to different levels of the building aligns really well with the notion of the different layers in heaven that you see in these Medieval Irish texts. It’s amazing what you can pull together from different fields.’

The panel discussion also opened up a dialogue about how the inter-disciplinary environment of the Trinity Long Room Hub and the Creative Arts Practitioner in in Residence programme can ‘open channels of creativity in how to look at one’s own work’.

The event also marked the official launch of the Creative Arts Practice Research theme’s 2016-17 Constellations Series as well as the introduction of the 2016-17 Creative Arts Practitioner in Residence Maarten Rischen.

The Trinity Long Room Hub’s Creative Arts Practitioner in Residence Programme is a new initiative by the Hub to bring together artists and researchers finding new ways to showcase and communicate Arts and Humanities research. The Programme was piloted in 2015-16 with the appointment of PhD student and composer Michael Gallen. Maarten Rischen was recently appointed as the 2016-17 Creative Arts Practitioner in Residence and is the first appointment to the programme through open international competition. Maarten who is also a musician and composer as well as a theatre maker will be based in the institute in March and April 2017.

Click here to find out more about Rivers Unseen.

Contact: Aoife King, Communications Officer | Trinity Long Room Hub | | 01 896 3895