Contemporary music in the auld sod, aka Ireland, is as diverse and cosmopolitan as new music in America. So what and who are making themselves heard these days? Here's a brief introduction to get your St. Patrick's Day weekend off to the proper start.
One who is widening his horizons quickly is Donnacha Dennehy. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Illinois, and just last year saw the first album dedicated to his own music released. His Crash Ensemble combines music, electronics, and video in programs that have gained respect all over Europe and North America for their commitment to new music. Dennehy's music is hip and urban, very much focused on aural textures and pure energy.
Dennehy: Elastic Harmony
Michael McGlynn is one of those contemporary composers who looks to the past to create new sounds. He is director of the vocal ensemble Anuna, and much of his music is for voices, but he has started to write instrumental music also groups such as the Ulster Orchestra and the Prey Trio. He combines the Medieval, Celtic, and modern musical languages into a sound that can be luminous and moving.
McGlynn: Agnus Dei
The music of John Wolf Brennan is as widely varied in style and instrumentation as anything else you're likely to encounter in contemporary music. His interests range from -- and combine -- classical, jazz, film, and world music (not to mention the visual arts, literature, and science) in a way that anyone should be able to find something to like in it.
Brennan: Picasso Triptych
Kevin Volans first caught the world's attention when the Kronos Quartet recorded his White Man Sleeps in 1987. He is now an Irish citizen, residing in Dublin, but he was born in South Africa. Much of his music from the 1980s was influenced by African ideas. However, he did study with Stockhausen and Kagel in the 1970s, and in the 1990s and 2000s his music began to move in a more uniquely formed direction, away from culturally based inspirations. He's been writing more instrumental music for musician's like Marc-AndrÃ© Hamelin and the Crash Ensemble, working with dance groups, and composing music to accompany art installations.
Volans: Concerto for piano and wind instruments
Volans: Untitled (In memoriam G.H.V.)
For more information on these and many other Irish composers, check out the site of Ireland's Contemporary Music Centre where you'll find interviews, videos, and links to composers' sites.