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The Big Bang: Young Composer Mentoring Programme
Belfast-born Brian Irvine was appointed Music Generation Sligo Composer-in-Residence in September 2012. Brian’s work has been commissioned and performed widely by the National Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Players, the Roald Dahl Foundation, Sesame Street, Channel 4, RTE & BBC TV, the Welsh National Opera, Opera Theatre Company and Carlow County Council to name but a few. He has collaborated with a variety of artists from the late great Seamus Heaney to Snow Patrol. The Composer-in-Residence Programme was funded by the Per Cent for Art Scheme as a Public Art Commission.
Brian’s brief was to create a new work to be performed by young people in Sligo and, significantly, to work with a number of young people from Sligo in a Young Composer Mentoring Programme. This aspect of the programme was requested by the commissioners, the Public Art Steering Committee of Sligo County Council Arts Service. Six young composers worked with Brian from their base at the Foroige Youth Café in Sligo town ‘The Crib’ from October 2012, with five bringing their work to completion to be performed by their peers on stage alongside Brian’s own compositions, giving us The Big Bang.
The project was a significant & magnificent undertaking for all concerned. Music Generation Sligo is lucky to have the talent, commitment, energy and enthusiasm of our young composers, orchestra and choir and of course their leaders & teachers. Sligo has a wealth of musicians and volunteers who, together with Music Generation, are making music education happen for the young people of Sligo, the next generation of musicians, teachers and audiences.
Introducing Music Generation Sligo Young Composers:
“My piece explores the trust in the space between people and how you should leave your mind wide open because YOU can achieve anything! This last year has been a magic carpet ride for me and I’d like to thank everyone who made the carpet ride happen.”
“Music is a big part of my life. I love to play the guitar and sing. Music Generation has really opened my mind to new music. Brian Irvine has really helped me progress in my composition skills and I am very grateful to have had this experience. Who knows, maybe I will compose more music in the future, whether it be songs on the guitar or classical music.”
“Music has always been part of my life. It has shaped me into the person I am today. After years of studying and performing music, this piece, entitled SPACE, is my personal contribution to music. I have tried to express my idea of space through the notes and rhythm: an infinite void of peace, mystery, danger and wonder.” Now a fifth year student at Coola Post Primary School, Ferdia’s ambition is to study history and music at University.
“I love music, and I spend most of my time either listening to it or playing it, but the Music Generation programme has opened up a whole new dimension for me. It has given me the opportunity and the confidence to create my own music – a fantastic life skill. I’m very grateful to have had the chance to work with and learn from Brian Irvine. It has been a wonderful experience that I will never forget.”
“Music gives us an identity and my composition has allowed me to explore sounds, arrangements and lyrics to communicate my ideas. Working with Brian was an opportunity to develop my knowledge of music and explore its limitless potential.” Ciara is 13 years old. She attends The Royal Irish Academy Of Music for cello classes and studies singing and piano in Sligo. She is a member of Sligo Baroque Orchestra. Her love of music began very early and she may one day choose a musical career.
A composition in seven movements:
- 1. Overture ‘Where never lark nor even eagle flew’: Brian Irvine
- 2. Realtin: Alice Purcell
- 3. Infinity & Further: Matthew Rooney
- 4. Space: Ferdia Durkin
- 5. You could be an astronaut: Niamh Feeney
- 6. Dreaming: Ciara Murphy
- 7. Big Bang: Brian Irvine
“Each of the five young composers have produced extraordinary pieces. It’s been a delight working with them.”
Brian Irvine composer
The Big Bang: The show
This was a performance of the new music created by Composer Brian Irvine & the five young Sligo composers… Ferdia Durkin, Niamh Feeney, Ciara Murphy, Alice Purcell & Matthew Rooney. 120 children & young people in the Music Generation Sligo Youth Choir performed together with 80 young musicians from Sligo Academy of Music Sinfonietta Orchestra, under the musical co-ordination of Niamh Crowley. The piece was inspired by the mystery and wonder of space and our place within it.
The performance took place at the Hawk’s Well Theatre Sligo on 10th November 2013 as part of Sligo International Choral Festival and was re-staged in the Hawk’s Well Theatre on 3rd October 2014 and in the National Concert Hall on 13th October 2014 as part of the Music Generation National Gala Concert.
Performers included members of the Sligo Academy of Music Sinfonietta and Music Generation Sligo Choir, comprising: Grange Post Primary School Choir Choir director, Emma Purcell); Sligo Community Youth Choir (Choir directors, Emma Purcell & Eileen Curley); Ursuline College Choir (Choir Director, Edel Murray)
Belfast-born Brian Irvine was appointed Music Generation Sligo Composer-in-Residence in September 2012. Brian’s work has been commissioned and performed widely by the National Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Players, the Roald Dahl Foundation, Sesame Street, Channel 4, RTE & BBC TV, the Welsh National Opera, Opera Theatre Company, Music Generation Wicklow and Carlow County Council to name but a few. He has collaborated with a variety of artists from the late great Seamus Heaney to Snow Patrol.
Emma Purcell is Music Teacher & Choir Director with Grange Post Primary School, Co Sligo and Sligo Community Youth Choir; Edel Murray is Music Teacher & Junior Choir Director with the Ursuline College Sligo; Niamh Crowley is Director of Sligo Academy of Music
(Curator, agency, etc):
Music Generation Sligo
Music Generation Sligo is part of a national music education programme for children and young people, initiated by Music Network, co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, The Department of Education & Skills and Sligo Music Education Partnership. Music Generation Sligo is managed and funded locally by Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB, Sligo County Council, Sligo Education Centre, Sligo County Childcare Committee, Cranmore Regeneration and the local music sector. Since 2011, Music Generation Sligo has developed a model to address access to instrumental and vocal tuition and performance by children and young people in their own communities.
Grange Post Primary School, Ursuline College
September 2012 - October 2014
Music Generation Sligo
Other Partners and/or Funders
Sligo Academy of Music
Key themes/ lines of enquiry
Composition – mentoring of young composers by professional composer. Performance – choral & orchestral
Composition & Performance
Research or relevant publications
Documentary on home page of musicgenerationsligo.com
After years of studying and performing music, this piece, entitled SPACE, is my personal contribution to music. I have tried to express my idea of space through the notes and rhythm: an infinite void of peace, mystery, danger and wonder.Ferdia Durkin, Young composer