CMC announces newly represented Associate Composers Sue Furlong and Darragh Kelly

Following the latest application process, with review by an independent panel, composers Sue Furlong and Darragh Kelly have been conferred with Associate Representation at the Contemporary Music Centre Ireland.

In recognition of her lasting contribution to composition in Ireland, including songwriting, choral works and music for educational settings, CMC is privileged to represent Sue Furlong (1962-2018) as an Associate Composer. Sue is the first composer to receive CMC Associated Representation posthumously.

Photo: Paula Malone Carty

An artist paints a picture, I’ve seen the process. Building up the outline, the different layers, bringing life to a thought process, an emotion. And when it’s done (or is it ever ‘done’) frames it, maybe photographs it. Shows it to people, maybe hangs it in an exhibition, and possibly never sees it again if it sells. In my case, a songwriter, composer, my art does not give like that, forever hanging in a precious place because someone lovingly placed it there, because they very much wanted it in the first place. Unless the little black dots on my page are converted into something constantly alive and giving, sound waves touching emotions as they are released, hopefully having a positive effect on their new ‘owner’, the listener, they’ll stay in that dark bottom drawer. I actually want to leave something bright and glistening for my beautiful boys, family, friends, old and hopefully many new, draping you all in the warmth, love, joy I have always received when writing my music.

(Sue Furlong, May 2017).

Sue Furlong was an important contributor to the Irish choral scene during her lifetime. With over 40 works published internationally, her compositions and arrangements are regularly performed in churches, schools and concert halls worldwide. Born in Waterford, Sue spent most of her working life in Wexford. Her musical career spanned the fields of composition, education, performance and conducting. Large-scale works include The Dancing Master (a cantata for equal voices and instrumental ensemble), The Voice Thief (a musical for children’s choir and symphony orchestra) premiered at Birmingham Symphony Hall in 2010 and Come the Sails (an anthem for massed choirs and orchestra) premiered to a 5,000 strong audience for the opening of the 2011 Waterford Tall-Ships Festival.

Sue’s early output as a composer focused mainly on sacred music. Her Mass of Thanksgiving won first prize in the 2001 RTÉ National Church Music Competition. An extensive period of composition for children followed, during which she was commissioned by prestigious choirs such as County Wexford Children’s Choir, Aspiro and Appalachian Children’s Chorus. Three volumes of children’s Irish language songs D’Aon Ghuth (With One Voice) are published by Boosey & Hawkes along. Her catalogue of works also includes commissioned work for Boosey’s Singing Sherlock series, many arrangements of popular music and Irish folk songs for adult choirs and instrumental compositions.

Sue was the conductor of Wexford Festival Singers from 1998 - 2006 and founded the multi award-winning mixed-voice choir Vocaré in 2007.

The announcement of the addition of Sue’s music to the Contemporary Music Centre means her music will be there for the generations to come to discover. When the rest of us are long gone, Sue’s legacy will live on and continue to be discovered and touch the hearts of many.

(David Clancy, Husband of Sue Furlong).

Darragh Kelly is a composer and musician. He is interested in the live vs the recorded, the virtual vs the actual, the bathetic, new music's ageing, and tonality's afterlife. Current projects make use of AI, both musically and visually. This work is concerned with re-embodying the musical output of machine learning programmes and avoiding reproductions of likeness, focusing on the potential for music to be a unique mode of cognition. 

Photo: J Leveson

He studied composition with Evangelia Rigaki and Linda Buckley in Trinity College Dublin and completed an MMus at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London. During his studies he received the 2018 West Cork Music Composition Prize for Blue, a work for string quartet partly based upon the film by Derek Jarman. Darragh was a committee member for the Irish Composers' Collective for three years. 

He received the Arts Council Music Bursary in 2021, funding research and training in machine learning and a forthcoming collaboration with Irish composer and musician James McIlwrath. 

Collaborators and performers have included Heather Roche, The Smith Quartet, Peter Brötzmann, Carla Rees, Michelle O'Rourke, Elizabeth Hilliard, and Bill Dowdall. In 2020, he was commissioned by Kirkos Ensemble, with the support of the Contemporary Music Centre and the Irish Music Rights Organisation. This record will be released via Bandcamp in 2022. A new work, Self-Attention, for Darragh Morgan was premiered in November 2021, as part of a Music Current Festival commission. He was also commissioned by Crash Ensemble to write a new work, Deep Model Worker, that premiered at the New Music Dublin festival in April 2021. He is currently working with Psappha Ensemble on a new solo piano work to be recorded in May 2022.

I'm so happy to be represented by CMC following the latest Associate Composer selection process in 2021, and to already be working on my first project led by them (Ulysses Journey). Early on in my studies, I attended CMC events that were truly revelatory, broadening my musical horizons and introducing me to the work of some incredible Irish composers that I'm now lucky to call my peers. The sense of community and generosity cultivated by the team and echoed by its members and collaborators is invaluable and I can't wait to contribute to this sense of camaraderie. And make some ceol radacach too, of course.

(Darragh Kelly).

As a CMC Ireland Associate Composer, artists’ works are documented and disseminated as part of CMC’s collection. In addition, active promotional support, online promotion and access to professional development opportunities are core benefits for all represented composers.