Composing the Island: Love and Death

Crash Ensemble 

Iarla Ó Lionáird, singer

Michelle O'Rourke, singer

Conductor: Alan Pierson

Over three weeks in September (7th – 25th), Composing the Island will present 29 concerts of orchestral, choral, instrumental, song and chamber music by Irish composers written between 1916 and 2016. 

How this music developed, and the times and circumstances in which it was written will unfold over 3 weeks of concerts which will include 6 major orchestral concerts performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, concerts of choral, chamber, song, mixed ensembles and instrumental music recitals, by Ireland’s leading performers will including Crash EnsembleChamber Choir IrelandConcordeVanbrugh QuartetFidelio Trio, Hugh Tinney, and Robin Tritschler alongside a series of supporting talks, related events and an accompanying published book.

Crash Ensemble's first concert for the series presents music from the centuries end from  Ann CleareAndrew HamiltonGerald Barry and Donnacha Dennehy.                                 


Ann Cleare  Dorchadas  (2007)

Andrew Hamilton  music for people who like art  (2009)                             

Gerald Barry  First Sorrow  (2006-2007)                                                            

Donnacha Dennehy  Grá agus Bás  (2007)      

 “A wild spirit most certainly is alive in Ann Cleare’s music, most of which is concerned with timbre, which is the quality of a sound – whether it buzzes or hisses, or sounds breathy or full.”Charlie Wilmoth, Dusted MagazineAnn is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition at Harvard University.

Andrew Hamilton “presents simple, familiar materials – what sounds like a pop song fragment here, a calypso pattern there – and molds them into something new, by twisting them around in every possible direction, or by repeating them to the point of absurdity.” Charlie Wilmoth, Dusted MagazineAndrew is a visiting tutor in composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire.                          

Gerald Barry, one of Ireland’s best known contemporary composers internationally, is a recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Award for his opera The Importance of being Ernest.  A selection of Gerald’s choral and instrumental music Barry meets Beethoven as performed by Crash Ensemble and Chamber Choir Ireland was released on the Orchid Classics label in June 2016. Gerald Barry’s First Sorrow refers to the story by Kafka about a trapeze artist who is happy only when aloft. At the end of the piece the quartet sing a hymn to the melody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Donnacha Dennehy founded Crash Ensemble in 1997. Grá agus Bás features on the eponymous album which NPR (National Public Radio) named one of its “50 favorite albums’’ (in any genre) of 2011. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Princeton University.


music for people who like art and First Sorrow  were commissioned by Crash Ensemble with funding from the Arts Council. Grá agus Bás was commissioned by Trinity College Dublin.

Sponsored by Bord na Móna and presented by RTÉ and the National Concert Hall as part of RTÉ 1916 and Ireland 2016.