WWCMF and CMC Ireland announce Abigail Smith as the winner of the 2024 Composition Competition for Emerging Composers (bassoon and piano)

The West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival (WWF) and the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland (CMC) are delighted to announce Abigail Smith as the winner of the 2024 Composition Competition for Emerging Composers (bassoon and piano).

The West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival is pleased to partner with the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland (CMC) for the 2024 Composition Competition for Emerging Composers. The winning entry from the May call is "Wild West for Bassoon and Piano," composed by Abigail Smith. This work will be premiered at the festival on Saturday, May 18th, at 11:30 AM, débuted by the WWF "Rising Stars" -  Maria O'Dea (bassoon) and Luke Lally Maguire (piano) - at St. Mary's Church in Blessington. As part of the event, CMC's Garrett Sholdice will conduct an interview with Abigail about the work and its inspiration.

The West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival is dedicated to supporting music education in Ireland. Through our partnership with the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland, we provide opportunities for emerging composers to develop their craft, particularly at this developmental stage of their careers. We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with CMC in the future.

- Martina Rosaria O'Connell (WWF Head of Education).

Abigail Smith

Abigail Smith is a Dublin-based musician and composer who has released two albums of her own music: "Night Time Walking" and "Fall Into Silence." The latter was written and released with funding from the Irish Arts Council. In 2024, Abigail was chosen, along with Anderinna Gooch, as the first recipients of the CMC BRIGID Residency. Additionally, Abigail received an Arts Council Music Bursary in 2022 and was the winner of the 2021 Finding a Voice and CMC Emerging Female Composer Composition Prize for her work "Certain of Uncertainty." She also received an Agility Award from the Irish Arts Council in 2021.

Abigail enjoys experimenting with new music technology and collaborating with others. She composes music for film, theatre, and computer games and is a member of the Screen Composers Guild of Ireland. Abigail regularly performs her own music, both solo and with the Astral String Quartet. She also performs as a duo using loop pedals with Lioba Petrie, with whom she completed a residency at the Lexicon, creating a new collaborative work entitled "Fragments." Abigail and Lioba performed another new collaborative work, "Permission Granted," at the 2023 Fringe Dublin Festival.


About the Work 

I composed Wild West for Bassoon and Piano with the idea of two characters meeting for a gunfight in a Western, the bassoonist and the pianist. Wicklow has wild landscapes with vast open skies and it would be an ideal setting for a scene where two strangers arrive on horseback from opposite horizons. I had this story and image in my mind when composing the work. 

The opening sets the scene of the two horseback strangers cantering towards each other from the distance. They meet and the story unfolds- they size each other up, then circle each other with the intent of violence in a quickdraw showdown until a shot is fired. We do not know the outcome. 

The same melodic idea is used throughout the work to evoke a sense of drama and the epic landscapes. I used harmony to change the feeling of the melody and rhythmic pulsating patterns in the piano part to create a sense of building tension. Repeated chords symbolise the unrelenting nature of violence as the characters are locked into the terrible quick draw show down (semi-quaver passage). The shot rings out (slammed piano lid). The last section is called Forgiveness. Our characters leave us with a sense of peace. I imagined the sun setting and the characters disappearing into the landscape of the Wilds of West Wicklow once again.

- Abigail Smith

For more information and to book tickets for the Rising Stars Concert, please visit the WWF website here.

The call for works for the 2024 Composition Competition for Emerging Composers (violin/ piano work) remains open until Friday 20th September at 5pm.