CMC Christmas Message 2020

Sebastian Adams, Lina Andonoskva, and Barry O’Halpin performing at CMC's Salon in December 2020

The last time the CMC team had the pleasure of meeting with lots of you in person was at the New Music Dublin festival back in late February. A weekend of celebration, connection and community. A weekend with colleagues from across the island and internationally at the concerts and through NMDX, CMC’s national and international delegate programme. A weekend of discussion with a live recording of the CMC podcast amplify.

That’s how the year began. One week later and life for all of us changed, especially for freelance artists, and the devastating effects on livelihoods. As the CMC team reflects on the months since then, of course, we think of the dark days of the lockdowns, the cancellations, the postponements, the frustrations throughout the year 2020. But we also remember and celebrate the numerous inspirational moments of music - performances going online, out of doors events, the resilience of artists across the months, the resourcefulness of artists and arts organisations with plans from A-Z for the creation and performance of new works, the innovative content from the creative sector that kept us inspired and engaged during the months of longing for live new music concerts.

The CMC team has been humbled by how the new music sector has supported one another through the months, strengthening the sense of community. We have been grateful to have been a part of that community through CMC’s fortnightly Coffee Catch-Ups. With your honesty and collegiality in the Coffee Catch-Ups, your direct feedback across the months, as well as through your prompt and considered responses to our surveys, we have aimed to be responsive to the needs of the new music sector and to audiences that engage with new music; supportive in advocating for the new music sector and the promotion of the artform; and nimble in the reallocation of resources to deliver relevant activities.

Our immense and sincere thanks to all the artists, mentors, experts and organisations with whom we collaborated and partnered across the year, as we continued to support artists active in new music in Ireland and to engage audiences with their music, the music about which we are passionate. We are grateful to the very many people who helped CMC to adapt and deliver our core services to the new music community throughout this particularly difficult year, including:

  • … to all the performers and composers who took part in the CMC Salon online from May onwards, we watched amazed as you recorded performances of new music everywhere, and we were captivated by the insights of the music makers about their works
  • … to all the experts who took part in the series of online professional development workshops throughout July and November, we are so grateful for your generous sharing of your knowledge, skills and advice to the new music sector in Ireland and beyond
  • … to all the participant composers in Composer Lab and Choral Sketches, huge thanks for your patience as we worked through the painful postponement of these flagship programmes with our partners RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir Ireland
  • … to all the artists and arts organisations who contributed to the CMC podcast amplify across the year, your honest, interesting and engaging thoughts on music made for wonderful listening
  • … in continuing the provision of library and archive services remotely and the ongoing promotion of CMC’s catalogue, a huge thanks to all the composers and performers whose scores and audio excerpts were featured in the Through the Digital Door online feature
  • … to those who contributed to Library Ireland Week in November, which highlighted CMC Library’s ongoing services and recent cassette digitisation project, which was funded by The Heritage Council’s Community Heritage Grant
  • … and last but in no way least, to all the audiences who have engaged with new music from Ireland through CMC’s many new online initiatives and features, the amplify podcast and our social media channels, with the pause of live performances, your support for composers and performers by connecting with their art in this way has been greatly appreciated

This year, CMC had an Ensemble-in-Residence, Kirkos Ensemble. Together with their Artistic Director Sebastian Adams and with support from Dublin City Council, we had big plans and big hopes for 2020, including the Composer Hub project. Kirkos Ensemble’s flexibility, adaptability and spirit of partnership as we modified this programme was a testament to their professionalism and commitment, and we look forward to working with them in 2021 as they continue as the CMC Ensemble-in-Residence. We are also excited to continue our bespoke programme for the CMC Emerging Composers Áine Mallon and Ultan O’Brien across 2021.

The CMC team and board are hopeful that 2021 will be the musically prosperous year that we all wish for. We look forward to following the developments of the new CMC Contemporary Artist Network as the CMC Colleagues creatively collaborate across 2021.

CMC acknowledges the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. CMC is also grateful to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for its ongoing support through the Project Lottery funding and through its Organisation Emergency Programme, and to Culture Ireland for its support of NMDX.

In my tenth year as Director of CMC and in this most challenging of years, I pay particular tribute to the CMC staff team, Jonathan, Keith, Linda, Mary and Susan, whose expertise, adaptability and tireless commitment to CMC’s strategic aims has enabled CMC as a team to respond to the needs of the sector at this time.

From all of us here at CMC’s historic base on Fishamble Street in the Cultural Quarter of Dublin, best wishes for a peaceful holiday season and a bright new year for new music from Ireland.

Evonne Ferguson, Director

Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland