RTÉ Music Commissions and Composer in Residence

RTÉ Music Commissions and Composer in Residence

Sebastian Adams, Composer in Residence 2016: Blog 4

It’s three months to the day since I last blogged about my time as RTÉ lyric fm Composer in Residence (meaning my year is almost three quarters finished). The piece for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra seems a distant blink in the past, although the parts are still being re-proofed over and over, whenever I can face them. A single mistake can make you look stupid in front of an orchestra, or even derail an entire piece, and it’s almost impossible to catch every error. A mistake that is glaringly obvious when you start trying to play the clarinet part can be almost impossible to find when you have a full score with roughly 50,000 notes to sift through. That’s what mine had, and so I spent far too much of the summer with piles of paper gradually moving from one side of my desk to the other…

Apart from that, I had a lot of interesting work to do: I spent a long time on projects for the RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, writing them a piece (which I’m very happy with – they’ll be touring the country in October) and also writing programme notes for the Bartok String Quartets and the Haydn Op. 76 Quartets. Those quartets (12 in total) are among the greatest music there is, and it was an absolute pleasure to read about them and try to form enough opinions about them to write the notes. I didn’t manage a holiday, but I did get a working break in Bern, visiting two good friends and doing two free improvisation gigs (viola, vocals and electronics). Incredibly beautiful city, and floating down the river Aare at top speed looks likely to be my lasting memory of Summer 2016. The string quartet for ConTempo was written very soon after the Concert Orchestra piece and meant my compositional energies have got a bit low, so I am happy to have other things to be focusing on for the next while (although I do have a Christmas Carol to finish shortly).

In the next six weeks I have a part in organising two very big events… The first is a performance of Bach’s St John Passion with Fishamble Sinfonia in Christ Church Cathedral on 1st October, with Residentie Bachkoor (over from the Hague). This is a huge step forward (and back) for Fishamble Sinfonia, by far the largest and most difficult piece we’ve decided to play, and also a step into real baroque territory away from our usual early classical music. It’s exciting to be a part of it, it’s such beautiful music, but the rest of the committee and I are spending a lot of time worrying about where to get 86 choir risers and so on. If you’re interested, you can find out more here.

The second is two weeks later, when Kirkos will do a massive presentation of work from and inspired by the Fluxus movement. Fluxus is basically a response to the mummification of art, and comprises most of the weirdest things you have ever heard being done in the name of art (often with serious points behind them). Fluxfest is a huge operation, happening in the Temple Bar Gallery Atrium Space on 15th October, incorporating about ten brand new pieces (and all the logistics associated with actually getting them), video pieces, a couple of pianos, a bale of hay and all sorts of other props, a whole collection of spare/old instruments we will have to find in skips (all donations welcome – email me!) etc. etc. Rob Coleman and I have spent countless hours searching for existing Fluxus pieces to perform, and we’ve started holding workshops for our players as they need to rethink their whole way of performing – if anything, knowing how to play an instrument very well is a disadvantage for this concert!!! It will be chaotic, thought provoking and absolutely amazing. Please come along! Thinking up something like Fluxfest and figuring out how to make it happen is a huge creative act in itself, and something I find just as artistically satisfying as actually writing music. If you create a truly memorable concert, you have made a real impact on the lives and minds of the people who attend – and that is being an artist is all about! The beauty of all this concert stuff is that it will activate a different creative impulse, allowing my composition cells to recharge – come October 16th (or maybe after a short holiday to make up for my busy summer), I’ll be ready to dive headlong into a piece for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, who probably won’t know what hit them, judging from what I’m currently feeding my brain here.

Click here for previous Blog entries by Sebastian

Find out more about Sebastian Adams and previous Composers in Residence here

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