Composer Focus - New CMC Composers

In 2016, eight new composers were accepted for CMC representation by our Board of Directors. CMC warmly welcomes Michael Gallen, Barry O'Halpin, Robert Coleman, Hilary Mullaney, Niall Vallely, Daniel McDermott, Garth Knox and Eoin Callery to the organisation. In this feature, we take a look at recent works by some of our newly represented composers as we look forward to hearing more music and exciting projects from them in 2017!   

(From left to right: row 1 - Robert Coleman, Michael Gallen; row 2 - Garth Knox, Hilary Mullaney, Nial Vallely; row 3 - Daniel McDermott, Eoin Callery, Barry O'Halpin)

Daniel McDermott

Daniel McDermott is an Irish composer, Dj, guitarist, pianist and producer. His music fuses elements of jazz, classical, world, minimal techno and electronica. He talks about two of his recent compositions: 

I really love Crash Ensemble’s take on this piece; it is relentlessly bonkers! It provides a great contrast with a piece I did with pianist Máire Carroll, which has a meditative repetition. I became obsessed with trying to create a simplistic modal melody in one bar of music; a one bar phrase which had an internal melodic structure that summarised the whole piece.

Robert Coleman

Robert is a Dublin based composer whose works includes acoustic, electro-acoustic, video and spatial performances. Recently his output has focused on a number of multi-disciplinary collaborations with various artists. Some of his works have drawn on his background in architecture, while others utilise mixed media and musique concrete styles. He explains how some of these influences appear in one of his recent pieces, Hommage À Xenakis.

This work was very much influenced by the Greek-French composer Iannis Xenakis. I approached the piece in a physical manner, initially sketching it in terms of line and shape. Three distinct sections emerge from this plan, however, a continuous line works its way through the piece from the low rolling bass sounds at the beginning to the undulating strands at the end. It is in a musique concrete style, using a combination of synthesized elements and recordings of jetplanes, amongst other things as the base material.

Garth Knox

Garth Knox is one of today’s leading performers of contemporary music. Stimulated by the practical experience of working on a personal level with composers such as Boulez, Ligeti, Berio, Xenakis and many others he channels and expands this energy when writing his own music. His most recent composition was written in honour of composer, collaborator and friend Jane O’Leary, to celebrate the 40th birthday celebrations of Concorde Ensemble, Ireland’s first contemporary music ensemble.  

Featuring viola d’amore with ensemble, this work makes reference to the Baroque forms of Aria then Chaconne, but also to the literal meaning in English of "air and ground" - a light floaty element and a solid (gritty, dirty?) one.  Also by extension to opposition between "heaven and earth.” As the viola d'amore has a very wide range and different colours in each octave, it can pass quickly and easily from the bright "heavenly" territory of the flute and the violin down to the dark "infernal" register of bass clarinet and cello and back again.

Eoin Callery

Eoin Callery creates electroacoustic chamber music and installations, and builds instruments using found materials. He holds a BMus from University College Cork (2008), a Master's degree from Wesleyan University (2010), and a Doctorate from Stanford University (2016), where he is currently the concert coordinator at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustic (CCRMA). Of his music he says:

I hope that viewers/listeners sense some manner of relationship, interaction and dependence (in my work), between all of the acoustic and electronic materials/spaces/objects, and visual stimuli. Even if they are not assured as to the exact nature of this relationship in any work, or even if they are not able to perceive and parse all of a piece’s layered constituent parts, they will sense that a relationship does exists between, which can be momentarily glimpsed in the

Diegesis – Something Like In Memoriam

Michael Gallen

Having been brought up primarily with Irish traditional and folk music, Michael Gallen later pursued studies in composition with Jose Manuel Lopez in Paris, and is comfortable meandering at the borders of different musical styles. Recent work includes Wilde Stories, a suite for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Cór na nÓg responding to Oscar Wilde's fairy tales, and What You Forget, a series of choral pieces and sound installations commissioned for the Ireland 2016 project. His work was featured in the RTÉ and the National Concert Hall's Composing the Island festival in 2016. In 2017 he will begin work on a new opera entitled A Month in the Lock.

Listen to some of Michael’s music and hear him speak about his musical upbringing and compositional style on Cross Currents, a radio series celebrating Irish contemporary composition produced by Athena Media in association with CMC. 

Niall Vallely 

Since the early 1990s Niall has been working at composing traditional-style tunes. His tunes have been recorded on more than 75 albums while some of them have become ‘standards’ in sessions throughout the world. In more recent years he has been expanding the scope of his compositions to embrace larger scale forms and instrumentation and involving musicians from the worlds of traditional and classical musics. He has received commissions from RTE Lyric FM, BBC, TG4, Cork Opera House, Crash Ensemble, University College Cork and the Vanbrugh Quartet and has had his works broadcast on radio and television in Ireland, the US and throughout Europe. Niall has also been involved in arrangement projects with artists including Lúnasa, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Donal Lunny, the Boston Pops Orchestra and the RTE Concert Orchestra. 
Watch Niall perform his own composition entitled Nothing Else alongside Kate Ellis and Kenneth Edge at University College Cork here.

Nothing Else by Niall Vallely

Hilary Mullaney 

Hilary Mullaney writes primarily fixed media compositions, and her practice is particularly concerned with how place is expressed in acousmatic music. She studied at the Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis (CCMIX), Paris in 2005 and attended masterclasses with composers Trevor Wishart, Gerard Pape and Agostino Di Scipio. In 2008 she completed the Mamori Sound Project residency in Brazil with renowned sound artist and experimental musician Francisco Lopez. She completed a PhD at Plymouth University titled ‘The Composer Isn’t There: a personal exploration of place in fixed media composition’, and remains an honorary researcher fellow within the art+sound research group.

Áitleku (2012) by Hilary Mullaney

Barry O'Halpin

Barry O’Halpin is a composer and guitarist. Written for diverse ensembles, his highly textural music is shot through with a crawling, organic energy, often preoccupied with unfamiliar microtonal sonorities, fluctuating rhythms, and liminal timbres at the borders of pitch and noise, drawing inspiration from extra-musical sources such as visual art, film and biology.  His piece Lipids was written for and performed by Crash Ensemble in their 2015-16 Born in the 80s tour, and featured in their 2016 Composing the Island Music Marathon at the NCH.  In 2015 his Miniature for piano was performed by Raymond Deane at the National Concert Hall.

Listen to Toric, commissioned by by Fishamble Sinfonia in 2015.