Project Update from Composer Lab 2022

Composer Lab is a professional development initiative delivered in partnership by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland. As part of the Composer Lab programme composers receive mentorship from established composer David Fennessy and engage in an initial collaborative workshop with the NSO section principals. This is followed by a workshop with the full orchestra which is open to the public. The programme culminates with a live performance of the composers’ fully expanded works by the National Symphony Orchestra. 

In December 2019, composers Adam McCartney, Judith Ring, Seán O’Dálaigh and Rachel Lavelle were selected via the annual Composer Lab Open Call. Faced with the challenge of several periods of lockdown beginning in 2020, CMC & the NSO paused the programme in December 2020. Due to a clash in professional commitments, composer Rachel Lavelle was not in a position to continue with the project following this. 

In May 2022, CMC and the NSO were delighted to recommence the programme with the long-awaited NSO section principals workshop.

Reflections from the NSO Principals Workshop, May 2022

Following this key stage in the development of their compositions, the composers and their mentor share their thoughts on the experience so far:

It was a genuine thrill to be back in the room with the wonderful players from the National Symphony Orchestra. To hear the music come off the page and come to life is what we, as composers, live for! The sketches that we heard on Monday exist in the real world now and I can’t wait to hear where the Lab composers take them with the full orchestra in the summer. 

- David Fennessy (Composer Mentor)

Musicians have pretty interesting jobs, so it shouldn't be that surprising when they come to work full of curiosity and passion for what they do. Still, it was a unique experience to rehearse with the musicians and composers involved.

- Adam McCartney

Being given the opportunity to work closely with the orchestra members at this first workshop was invaluable. Writing for orchestra is a massive undertaking and having the chance to work on ideas and sketches with the musicians answered a lot of important questions. I feel inspired and ready to forge onwards with the piece to bring it to the next stage

- Judith Ring

[The Composer Lab project] has given me a chance to try out my ideas on a much bigger scale than I have done before in my career. And this trying out is crucial; that it is a workshop with many incremental stages is of great practical benefit for us. Our participation in this iteration of Composer Lab spans the pandemic, with all the rescheduling and reimaging that came with that.

- Seán Ó Dálaigh

The Next Stage of Composer Lab 2022 -  Public Workshop at the National Concert Hall, 20 July

The Composer Lab public workshop offers an insight into the collaborative process of writing for symphony orchestra. Sections of each of the three participant composer’s works will be performed by the full orchestra at an intensive all-day workshop at the National Concert Hall. All are welcome to this free event. 

CMC particularly encourages students of composition and emerging composers interested in writing for symphony orchestra to attend.

Please note, advance registration is advised, see the Composer Lab Public Workshop event listing here.