23rd October 2011 - The Given Note in a library near you...
The Given Note, written for Seamus Heaney's 70th birthday celebrations and commissioned by RTE for the Vanbrugh Quartet, gets an outing in the Musical Tales programme of word-inspired works this week. Check this link for details of concerts in and around Dublin this Monday, Tuesday, Thursday October 24th-27th and the following Wednesday November 2nd.
27th April 2011 - The creative year starts here!
Its all or nothing around here! Two exhibitions opening tomorrow in West Kerry - I have a sound piece in Brenda Ni Shuilleabhain's Fearaibh Fionntra project opening at Ionad Chaitliona in Ventry at 1pm and an etching (!) in the group show Crossing the Mountain in Clos na bhFiodoiri at 6.30pm. Both shows run over the weekend so come and have a look!
19th July 2010 - Old news!
I've finally added details of some of last year's projects so check out the music page for info...
21st January 2010 - Time out and travelling cake...
While I take a little time out to restore some creative equilibrium, I'm delighted to report that the Bourbaki Ensemble in Sydney, Australia will be performing (Can't) have your cake and eat it on February 21st. Cake was written for the Irish Chamber Orchestra in 2006 and it's a piece which reflected some of the intensities of the different environments I experienced across three continents in the year it was written. There's something strange and wonderful about it emerging now on the other side of the world, in the bows, instruments and ears of another group of passionate musicians. Bourbaki performs under the baton of David Angell at St. Stephen's Church in Newtown at 2.30pm on Sunday February 21st. Go have a look at their website (www.bourbakiensemble.org) for concert details and for more information on this wonderful ensemble.
12th April 2009 - Heaney at 70
Tomorrow is the big day - Seamus Heaney turns 70! I'm lucky enough to get to share in the RTE-led celebrations at the Irish Museum of Modern Art which will include the premiere of The Given Note, my little quartet written in his honour. Have a look at RTE's website http://www.rte.ie/heaneyat70 which details the many facets of their celebration of the event. It includes links to hear the three newly-commissioned quartets which will be broadcast live on RTE Lyric fm at 5pm tomorrow (Monday April 13th). For those of you busy or far away tomorrow, you can listen online for the next few weeks - links also from the RTE site.
18th March 2009 - The Given Note
I'm on my way to Dublin from Cork after a rehearsal with the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet of The Given Note, a short piece commissioned by RTE to celebrate the 70th birthday of Seamus Heaney. The piece is named for Heaney's poem of the same name which has been a touchstone of mine for several years. There's something about the way he taps into the wonder and absolute beauty of the everyday and ordinarybutextrordinary in his work that gets me every time. The Given Note, with its reference to Port na bPucai, taps into a whole other set of very personal roots in music and place. It is such a huge honour to be part of this celebration alongside fellow composers Kevin O Connell and Ian Wilson.
17th March 2009 - Ardee Dances again...
It seems to a year for dancing. Next week, the Irish Baroque Orchestra and fiddler Gerry O'Connor will revisit Ardee Dances, originally commissioned by Louth County Council under the Percent for Art Scheme in 2005. It will be performed and recorded in the context of the National Music Symposium at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra on Tuesday March 23rd. It has been such a pleasure to visit Gerry in Dundalk and delve into the piece again and I'm really looking forward to working with the orchestra again. This was such a dream project - a chance to explore the commonalities and differences between traditional and baroque music - and I still have great memories of its premiere at Ardee Baroque in 2005.
22nd February 2009 - dancing with voices, bones and sea
I'm awake and looking out at blue grey cloud and sea after the opening of Una Ni She's exhibition 'felt' in Siamsa Tire last night. The evening started with the west Kerry choir Canteloupe creating something really special around my soundwork Rince na gCnamh. Gathering in a circle in the middle of the gallery, they created a live and resonant soundworld which merged seamlessly with the recorded elements of the piece. It was an amazing experience to improvise with them from the computer, using the sounds of the piece, as they responded to both the disembodied sounds of voices and sea from the loudspeakers and to Una's images in felt and on paper on the walls. The space was filled and animated by their energy which I know will linger as the exhibition runs over the next five weeks. Big thanks to all of the voices both live and recorded who made the experience of making Rince na gCnamh so warm and personal - Michelle, Iarla, Virginia, Jindra and Una on tape and Boris, Trish, Romy, Mimi, Mona, Ursula, Kate, Iarla and Deirdre on the night. This journey with Una has been really special, starting from a shared vision of woven voices which became the skeleton of the piece and moving along parallel but always-connected paths from there on. If you're in Tralee between now and the end of March, do drop in for a look and a listen.
5th February 2009 - From Casadh Aris to Rince na gCnamh
Ta an bliain tosnaithe le fuinneamh oscailte cruthaitheach - Casadh Aris a chuir ar staitse i mhi Eanair le Fearghus O Conchuir agus Dan Bodwell i mBaile Mhuirne, An Rinn agus i Lab na Mainistreach sa Daingean - agus anois i mhi Feabhra, comhoibriu nua le fisealaiontoir Una Ni She. Taim ag cuir rian fuaime le theaspantas Una - Rince na gCnamh - i ngealairi Siamsa Tire i dTra Li. Sceitimini orm faoi bheith ag obair le Una - ta meas agam ar a saothar le blianta anuas - agus leis an gcor Canteloupe, faoi stiur Boris Nicholson. Cuirfidh Canteloupe fuinneamh ur agus fuaim beo le fuaimrian an phiosa ag an oscailt. Bi linn ar an Satharn, Feabhra 21 le suile agus cluasa ar oscailt!
The year has started in true collaborative mode. Following the exhilaration of performing Casadh Aris with Fearghus O Conchuir and Dan Bodwell in Baile Mhuirne, An Rinn and in Lab na Mainistreach in Dingle, I'm collaborating with visual artist Una Ni She, contributing a sound work to her exhibition Rince na gCnamh/In my Bones in the gallery at Siamsa Tire in Tralee later this month. As part of this, I'm excited that Boris Nicholson's choir, Canteloupe, will be adding live sound and energy to the piece at the opening. Come along with open eyes and ears on Saturday, February 21st!
1st December 2008 - Baile Mhuirne
It's so good to have some dedicated composing time again, and especially good to be here in Baile Mhuirne working with the utterly inspiring choreographer Fearghus O Conchuir.We're here at the invitation of Brid Cranitch in the Ionad Culturtha, working on a new piece called Casadh Aris which we'll perform here and tour to Dingle and An Rinn in mid-January. One day in, the ideas are flowing and the resonances are strong...
24th November 2008 - Casadh Aris
Taim ag suil go mor le coicis a chaitheamh le coragradoir Feargus O Conchuir san Ionad Culturtha i mBaile Mhuirne ag tus mi na Nollag. Beimid ag obair ar saothar nua dar teideal 'Casadh Aris'- coimisiun on Ionad Culturtha a chuirfear os comhar an pobail i mBaile Mhuirne, an Rinn agus Corca Dhuibhne i lar mi Eanair. Tuileadh eolas ar ball...
20th September 2008 - Ealain na Gaeltachta
Mar chuid den gCeiliuradh ar dheich mbliana d'Ealain na Gaeltachta ar an 27u Mean Fomhair, beidh Rachel ag cuir piosa beag nua i lathair le cabhar an veidhleadoir Cora Venus Lunny. Deinfidh an piosa - do cheol leictreonach agus viola - tracht ar an abhair spreagaithe a fuair Rachel san Antartach le cabhar sparanacht Ealain na Gaeltachta i 2006.
15th September 2008 - New website!
The new website is now up! You can view images and listen to music and read about current and old projects. The site was designed by Kanian Design.
10th April 2008 - Latest update
Composition has been a little slow recently as I've settled into my role as Music Adviser to the Arts Council. It's gaining momentum again now and I'm getting back to work on a large piece for orchestra and tape inspired by Kerryman and Antarctic explorer Tom Crean and continuing work on collaborations with choreographer Fearghus O Conchuir, poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, photographer Rachel Sussman and visual artist Una Ni She.
I'm now dividing my time between Dublin and Kerry, and Chet and Maureen Raymo have offered me their house and Chet's writing studio in Ventry again for the winter. Heartfelt thanks to them for their generosity; be sure to check out Chet's website at www.sciencemusings.com and his beautiful books which include Honey from Stone and 365 Starry Nights.
5th January 2008 - News from 2007
2007 turned out to be a pretty busy year. The Antarctic project, commissioned by the Tom Crean Society with funding from the Arts Council, continued during the winter and I reached my fourth continent in July with my first trip to Africa. In the company of photographer Rachel Sussman and pianist Christine McLeavey, I travelled through South Africa and Namibia in search of the mysterious Welwitchia plant, one of Rachel S's targets for her Oldest Living Things in the World project. I'm delighted to be joining Rachel in the collaborative element of this project where she has invited a number of writers and composers to respond to her wonderful images. Check these out at www.rachelsussman.com.
I made a return visit to New York at the end of September to join in the centennial celebrations of The MacDowell Colony. Jan Bell and her Cheap Dates performed some songs of mine during the Centennial Fellows Reunion Picnic in Central Park on September 29th and it was an enormous honour to be part of this momentous event. It was an absolute pleasure to work with Jan and her collaborator Rima Fand of the Luminscent Orchestrii and I hope to have the opportunity to work with them before too long. It was also wonderful to catch up with some of the great people I met at the colony in Autumn 2005 and to sow the seeds for some potential future collaborations. Many thanks to the Arts Council for their support of this trip.
August saw two performances by the Ulster Orchestra of Time is a Spiral, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for their annual summer series. First up was the premiere in Lisburn on August 17th, conducted by Adrian Leaper, then a second performance with the three other new commissions (by Greg Caffrey, Frank Lyons and Bill Campbell), conducted by Kenneth Montgomery, at Clonard in Belfast on August 31st. Thanks to both conductors for their advice and interpretations and to orchestra leader David Adams and all the players for two beautiful performances. Both concerts were broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during the week of December 10th; thanks to all of you who listened in!
I spent the first three months of the year at Banff Centre for the Arts starting work on the Tom Crean project. It was great to such a supportive environment in which to begin work on such a large-scale project. I visited the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge before leaving for Banff and accessed a lot of wonderful material. Many thanks to Naomi Boneham for her assistance there. If you're in Cambridge the Institute is a fascinating place to visit with a small museum and an extensive polar library. Many thanks to the Banff Centre for their support of my residency there. Mile buiochas d'Ealain na Gaeltachta as a thacaiocht don dtaighde don dtogra seo.
Some of my time in Banff was spent working on a sound sculpture as part of a collaborative project, Relative to the Observer, with my dad, John Holstead. It was exhibited in Dingle during Feile na Bealtaine at the begining of May. The sound element of the project drew on the same materials and ideas as the visuals and formed part of a multimedia exhibition, built around some stunning sculptural renditions of the shape of the universe. The sculptures formed part of the group show In Pursuit 2 in Siamsa Tire in Tralee in September / October and Dad is already planning the next magnum opus. Watch this space...
Chaitheas deireadh seachtain aoibhinn eile ar Inis Oirr ag deireadh Mhi Bhealtaine don gcomhdhail Ealain ar Oilean. Buiochas aris do Dharach, Val agus Barra.