Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ergodos Festival: Off Grid

New music heads Off Grid in the upcoming Ergodos Festival, a celebration of the kind of music that falls between the conventional cracks, bending genres and defying definition with creative aplomb. Many of the concerts take place at the NCH, but fiddle player Caoimhin O Raghallaigh kicks off proceedings at the Unitarian Church on Fri 17 Apr, with Salil Sachdev on hand percussion. Gamelan Sekar Petak on Sat 18 features Javanese gamelan, metallophones, gongs and drums playing works by composers from Ireland, England and the US, while Prism on Sun 19 brings together traditional and new gamelan, shakuhachi (bamboo flutes) and hand percussion, with clarinet and voice.

Composer Judith Ring is guest curator for the electronic and improvised sounds of Portrait on Mon 20; electronic meets acoustic in Liminality on Tue 21, with hexaphonic guitar, piano and clarinet. It’s back to the Unitarian Church on Wed 22 for Morla’s electro jazz mix of alto sax, guitar and drums; multiples of electric guitars feature in Expressway to Yr Skull on Thur 23; Trio Scordatura play around with keyboard, viola and voice on Fri 24; and the Ergodos Orchestra get together on Sat 25 at St Bartholomews, Clyde Rd for James Tenney’s In a large, open space.

Tickets are €10, or €39 for the whole festival – that’s a lot of music for your money. There’s free Gamelan workshops at the NCH on Sat & Sun (1pm) as well as talks and installations. More info @

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Comedy of Errors

Abbey Theatre til Sat 2 May
Ok, so it's a ridiculous plot, but it's alot of fun: not one but two sets of identical twins (masters and servants) separated as babies in a violent shipwreck which also sees their parents swept away to who knows where - and they all end up in the same place on the same day? Add to the delicious confusion of this unlikely equation that each set of twins has the same name, and you're beginning to get the picture. Mind you, the fact that one twin has set out in search of the other, but doesn't twig when complete strangers start greeting him as an old friend, not to mention a husband, makes you want to shake him. Delightful silliness abounds, as mistaken identity piles upon mistaken identity, but of course you know it will all end happily ever after.

Rather than going with the flow, director Jason Byrne highlights the play's artifice, putting everything on view - visible wings, scaffolding sets with doors or windows tacked on where necessary, lots of playacting, canned laughter, sudden non-sequitur bursts of dancing to loud music by the entire cast, and very noisy scene changes. You can see what he's getting at, but the latter two devices become a bit grating after a while, and although there are some great comic turns from the likes of Peter Daly and Rory Nolan, the hardworking cast sometimes have a bit of an uphill battle to keep the show on the road. Good fun nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Egg Fights at the Hugh Lane

The free Sundays at Noon concert series may have temporarily decamped to City Hall, but it's well worth paying a visit to the Hugh Lane Gallery to see why: a big installation featuring two elegantly clad headless mannequins taking aim at each other through a wall of eggs. The work of Turner Prize nominee Yinka Shonibare, it was inspired by Gulliver's Travels and it's called, not surprisingly, Egg Fight. Meanwhile over at City Hall, on Easter Sunday there's a complete performance of Ian Wilson's solo piano cycle Stations, a new work inspired by the Stations of the Cross. It features upcoming young British pianist Matthew Schellhorn, a regular collaborator with Wilson. On Sun 19 Trio Quattro present Handel's Wardrobe as part of the Dublin Handel Festival, and on Sun 25 the Engegard Quartet play string quartets by Beethoven and Bartok. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dublin Handel Festival

1685 is one of those dates that every music student knows: the birth year of three incomparable composers, JS Bach, George Frideric Handel and Domenico Scarlatti. Less familiar are the years of their deaths, but Handel actually outlived the other two, shuffling off this mortal coil at the ripe old age of 74 on 14 April 1759 - exactly 250 years ago. Dublin, and specifically Temple Bar, has a special connection with Handel - it's where his most famous work Messiah received its first performance, on 13 April 1742 at Neale's Musick Hall on Fishamble Street. So double reasons to celebrate, and Temple Bar Cultural Trust are pulling out all the stops for this year's Dublin Handel Festival which runs from April 13-19.

There's a rake of free activities, walks, talks and workshops, lots of concerts and of course the annual Messiah in the Street on Mon 13 @1pm, a singalong version with Our Lady's Choral Society at that very spot on Fishamble Street. OLCS turn up again at the NCH on Tue 14 for the Handel 250 Commemoration Concert, the choir of Christ Church Cathedral give a full performance of Messiah on Thur 16, and you can also hear the Guinness Choir singing Solomon, the David Rees-Williams Trio giving baroque music a jazz makeover, Opera Theatre Company performing Acis and Galatea, counter-tenor Graham Joseph singing popular arias, and the Irish Chamber Orchestra playing the famous Water Music. And as an extra special treat, Joseph O'Connor has written a new play, Handel's Crossing, a theatrical re-imagining of the great man's arrival in Dublin in 1742 for that world premiere, which will be brought to life by Fishamble Theatre Company aboard the Jeannie Johnston. More info @

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Moby Dick

The brilliant Conor Lovett of Gare St Lazare Players, who has become synonymous with the novels of Samuel Beckett through his dry, wry interpretations of delights such as Molloy and First Love, turns his attention to an altogether different kettle of fish in the shape of Moby Dick, Herman Melville's gripping tale of the adventures of Captain Ahab in his relentless pursuit of the great white whale, as told by the mysterious Ishmael. This should be a one-man show of epic proportions. Catch it at the Mermaid in Bray on April 9, the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire on April 24 & 25 and the Civic in Tallaght on April 28.

Crash Ensemble/Kevin Volans

Crash Ensemble celebrate the 60th birthday of South African-born Irish-based composer Kevin Volans with a special concert at Project on Thur 9 April. Volans, who gained international acclaim through his collaborations with the Kronos Quartet, including White Man Sleeps and The Songlines, is curating a programme which places his own works alongside music by young Irish composers Jennifer Walshe, Jonathan Nangle and Simon O'Connor. There's a Volans world premiere, a performance of Into Darkness, and the composer joins Crash onstage for Nine Beginnings.

Dark Room Notes

Dark Room Notes, one of the most interesting new bands around, are about to release their first album We Love You Dark Matter (apparently named after a dream). Intelligent, catchy electro-pop that mixes guitars, synths, keyboards and some spot-on vocals. They play The Academy, Middle Abbey Street, on Thur 9 April. Check them out at