Interview with Martin O'Leary

In advance of the premiere on 10 March 2019 of Martin O’Leary’s large-scale choral work marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Maynooth University Choral Society, Psalmus Invitatorius, the composer talks to CMC about the work.

Psalmus Invitatorius is essentially a sacred cantata, and part of the inspiration came from the great church cantatas of J.S. Bach, as well as more recent essays in the choral genre by Gustav Holst (The Hymn of Jesus, 1917) and Michael Tippett (A Child of our Time, 1941). There is an allusion in the opening chorus of my work to the other substantial commission in the history of the Choral Society: the Maynooth Te Deum of John Buckley (written for the bicentenary of the College in 1995, and in which I sang). There are doubtless other influences which listeners may hear: Psalmus Invitatorius is composed as a response to, or a dialogue with music I have heard and loved, in what I believe is my own musical voice.

This is the culminating work in my compositional life to date. As well as being scored for the largest forces I have ever used, and the longest piece of continuous music I have written, it can also be said, I think, to incorporate one of the widest emotional palettes of any of my works. It can also be heard quite simply as a personal reflection on the texts chosen. Psalmus Invitatorius is my grateful offering of thanks for the musical enrichment that Maynooth has given me. It expresses within its personal soundworld what music means to me, and is an invitation to the performers and listeners to share in this uniquely human gift.

- Martin O’Leary

The premiere of Psalmus Invitatorius by Martin O’Leary takes place on 10 March at the College Chapel, NUI Maynooth. See here for further details of the event.