Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sundays at Noon

Coming up at the Hugh Lane Gallery: on Sun 6 Dec soprano Roisin O’Grady teams up with Malcolm Proud on piano and harpsichord for songs by Purcell, Mozart and Haydn, plus Handel’s Suite No 5 in E; on Sun 13 you can hear clarinetist John Finucane, soprano Gabriela Istoc and pianist Dearbhla Collins in a music by Schubert, Burgmuller and Archduke Rudolph (Austria's Crown Prince back in the 19th century); and on Sun 20 the Contempo Quartet play string quartets by Haydn and Mendelssohn. All concerts are free, starting time is 12 noon but get there early.

Bottlenote Festival 09

If experimental jazz is your thing, the Bottlenote Collective promise to simultaneously stimulate your brains and ears with 2 nights of brand new improvised music from Bottlenote members Seán Óg, Simon Jermyn, Shane Latimer and Justin Carroll, in collaboration with visiting artists from Norway, Paris, Denmark and London’s Loop Collective. That adds up to 2 double bills featuring newly commissioned music for 4 new groups at the cutting edge of contemporary jazz, as well as music from established Bottlenote groups, Bang Hazard and Lead Soup, laptop sets from Estonian sound artist Alo Allik and Dublin’s Eomac, and 2 free workshops open to the public. The festival runs at the Twisted Pepper on Fri 4 and Sat 5 Dec.

Beat the Sunday Night Blues

The intriguingly named Centre for Creative Practices at 15 Lwr Pembroke St has come up with an spot-on way to beat the Sunday night blues and escape the tyranny of I’m a Celebrity X Factor with a spontaneous House Concert tonight (29 Nov 9pm). Irish and Polish musicians including Brian O hUiginn on uilleann pipes, Andrzej Bauer on cello and Michal Bunio Skrok on experimental electronics get together for an informal evening of experimentation, exploration and improvisation. It’s a tenner in, and you can byo refreshments.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The National Campaign for the Arts

I’ve no idea how many people are employed in the arts, but without a doubt the arts have a huge impact on all our lives – on an immediate level in terms of the music, film, literature, theatre, visual art etc that surrounds us, and on a broader level as part of our cultural and national identity. The National Campaign for the Arts is looking for a measly 10,000 signatures in support of their petition which asserts the fundamental importance of the arts to economic recovery and calls for the retention of Culture Ireland and the Irish Film Board, maintaining existing funding to the Arts Council, keeping the artists’ tax exemption (that might be a thorny one) and a commitment to keep the arts portfolio as part of a senior cabinet post. There’s already over 9,400 signatures but there should be way more, so get up off your backsides, sign the petition and make your voices heard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Helter Skelter/ Union Square

A neat double-bill from PurpleHeart Theatre Company @ Bewleys should enliven your lunchtime, though writer Neil LaBute’s penchant for sticking the knife in and then giving it an extra twist might not exactly aid your digestion. In Union Square a lost out-of-towner looks for directions from an unseen street person, gradually revealing his true purpose as he blithely confides in someone who doesn’t matter. Helter Skelter sees an apparently innocent shopping trip degenerate into full blown marital breakdown as a tussle over a mobile phone gives way to the spouting clichés of a faithless husband and the brutal honesty of a heavily pregnant wife. Ably performed by Dermot Magennis (Union Square), and Les Martin and Olga Wehrly (Helter Skelter), and directed by Stewart Roche.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dr Hauschka

Have just been listening to Hauschka, aka German pianist/composer Volker Bertelmann, who weaves a hypnotic web of pianistic intrigue with echoes of Steve Reich, Debussy, Philip Glass, impressionistic melodies and minimalistic counterpoints – Mojo magazine namechecks both Erik Satie and Kraftwerk when describing his music. Prepared piano is Hauschka’s preferred instrument, damping the strings with felt or rubber, sharpening the hammers with tinfoil, softening the edges with low-key electronics, and other such playful interventions. Catch him at the Sugar Club tomorrow night (Thur 19 Nov) in a Note Productions gig, or if you’re heading south, at the Triskel in Cork on Fri 20.,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Music

Contemporary music is apparently alive and well and living in Dublin – at least for the month of November anyway. There’s already been something of an outpouring in the new music arena, with concerts from NewSoundWorlds and the Contemporary Music Centre, and lots more to come. First the freebies: the final concert in the CMC’s Salon series is at the Goethe Institut on Sat 19 Nov @6pm, when the Cashell Trio play Raymond Deane’s Marche Oubliee and Benjamin Dwyer’s Quasi una fantasia. Contemp mus veterans Concorde are at the Hugh Lane on Sun 22 Nov @12 noon playing works by Judith Ring, Massimo Davi, Feis Ceoil prizewinner Hugh Boyle, Finnish composer Erkki Jokinen (featuring Dermot Dunne on accordion), and Sungji Hong – the Korean composer will attend for the Irish premiere of Shades of Raindrops. Meanwhile the Fidelio Trio’s Schumann Plus series also features Ben Dwyer’s Piano Trio on Sun 29. And finally, it’s not contemporary but it is free - All you ever wanted to know about Wagner but were afraid to ask, a daytime session at the Merrion Hotel on Sat 21 Nov as part of Opera Ireland’s 2009 Season, a musical analysis of the Ring Cycle by composer/pianist Derek Watson, plus an exhibition of rare Wagner Memorabilia. Booking via

Meanwhile the Irish Composers Collective’s Ensemble ICC are at the NCH on Mon 16 Nov with no less than 7 world premieres. Cellist Kate Ellis, percussionist Maeve O’Hara and singers Liz Hilliard and Marian Hughes perform works by emerging Irish composers. Siobhan Cleary’s NewSoundWorlds continues a fascinating exploration of all things contemporary with The Medical Composers at the NCH on Tue 17 Nov, music from composers who’ve also had careers in the field of medicine. Clarinetist Carol McGonnell and flautist Erin Lesser play works by Cleare, Furrer, Gaussain, Hurel and Nono on Tue 24 and on Tue 1 Dec there’s a solo show from the very creative Jennifer Walshe, with works for voice, violin, psaltery, cd and dictaphones. And the RTE National Sympony Orchestra give the world premiere of Cleary’s Cokaygne at the NCH on Fri 27 in the company of works by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.

A couple of interesting gigs from Note Productions include Hauschka – billed as a cross between Erik Satie and Kraftwerk - on prepared piano at the Sugar Club on Thur 19 Nov, and (like him or loathe him) Iarla O Lionaird at St Audeons on Sun 29, playing with Steve Cooney and Graham Henderson. ArtPolonia’s Lutosphere brings experimental music to Liberty Hall on Wed 30 Nov, with a mix of jazz piano, classical cello and experimental electronics inspired by the works of Lutosławski. Coming up, Dec 5 sees the launch of new all-female vocal quartet Ergodos Voices at the NCH performing five new works by Irish composers including Linda Buckley, Judith Ring, Garrett Sholdice, Seán Clancy and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Knives in Hens

Smock Alley Theatre
There’s bucketloads of atmosphere in this show: staged in the cavernous empty space of Smock Alley, the audience seated on three sides on church pews or bare benches, a peat-strewn floor, rough wooden structures, hazy lighting and a live musician - plus a terrific script and three very fine actors. But it doesn’t quite all add up. As much about the power of words as the struggle for power, on the one side is the status quo of the earthy village ploughman (Vincent Regan) with his precious horses. On the other is the distant miller (Lorcan Cranitch, maybe a tad miscast), despised and reviled for his difference and his living off the labour of others. In the middle is the ploughman’s wife (a magnificent Catherine Walker), luminous in her thirst for knowledge and her wonder at the world, voicing what she sees – bird, cloud, tree – almost like some aboriginal naming ritual. Making great use of the huge performance area, the opening scenes are quite enthralling, but there is a gradual nagging feeling that instead of developing and growing everything stays more or less the same. Despite her credentials, flautist Eleanor Dawson is the production’s weakest link. What starts out as evocative and haunting becomes a bit monotonous and dreary after a while, and the vocal elements just feel incongruous.