New Music from Ireland concert in Cardiff
CMC Composer's Voice: Linda O'Shea Farren talks to composer performer Benjamin Dwyer
*** Please join us for a post-concert wine reception hosted by CMC Ireland ***
Benjamin Dwyer on his new work HAG:
HAG from SacrumProfanum
SacrumProfanum is work-in-progress that explores the enigmatic stone carvings found all over Ireland (and in parts of Britain) known as Sheela-na-gigs. I have spent the last ten years travelling across these lands studying, photographing and sketching these mysterious figures. It is clear to me that this abject though mysterious figure, because of her very complexity, has an extraordinary associative power. What could she represent as witness to Ireland’s unfolding political, religious and social histories?
I have thus tried to create music exploring themes such as feminism, colonialism, identity, religion, symbol, rite, sexuality and the disintegration of Gaelic culture. In a score that combines contemporary music interfacing with traditional Irish forms, instruments and sean-nós singing, SacrumProfanum explores these themes through raw, visceral, often abject music.
HAG is perhaps the most abject of all the works in SacrumProfanum. Composed for amplified flute and bowed guitar, it takes on the role of the Sheela-na-gig, or the HAG, as she has often been called. She’s an underdog to fight for; she’s a defiant hag that rejects colonial narratives; while she’s a witness that shows her scars of damage, she also rebelliously spits back in the faces of her oppressors; disrupting dominant notions of beauty and feminine grace, she is an ‘ugly’ feminist that asserts her sexual agency and defiantly returns the gaze of the male uncomfortably back at him.