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03-07-2012, 17:45   #1
FishBowel
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Why aren't Irish composers more rated?

Some of today's younger British composers have 'made it' already. In the sense that their CDs are on sale in the shops, their music is regularly performed, and they get written about in the media. So why are so few Irish composers doing as well? Even the older ones are little known. Are they just not good enough or is it due to little support for classical music in this country?
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04-07-2012, 23:46   #2
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Some of today's younger British composers have 'made it' already.
In the sense that their CDs are on sale in the shops, their music is regularly performed,
and they get written about in the media.
So why are so few Irish composers doing as well?
Even the older ones are little known.
Are they just not good enough or is it due to little support for classical music in this country?
There would be a few seemingly good reasons why this is the case,
for example we have no PROMs here, a lower population density
which = less money for funding and also a smaller number of ensembles
dedicated to contemporary from living Irish composers music.

While the scene may appear healthy enough there definitely isn't as much
support as lets say our colleagues in Austria or Germany.

I believe it's more down to attitude than anything else.
Most performers see contemporary music as a risk,
and feel it's necessary only to pursue it if they seemingly fail at great interpretations of the past masters.
It's an attitude that really has to change, and we can't be performing late 19th century music forever(great as it may be),
culture can't really take the strain.

That said there are some quite young composers making waves at the moment abroad,
I would cite some of the people I most admire in this respect as Piaras Hoban, Ann Cleare, & Gráinne Mulvey.

If you're interested in how Irish composers are doing the best places to hear
about them is on cmc.ie or from the journal of music in Ireland.
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07-07-2012, 01:12   #3
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That said there are some quite young composers making waves at the moment abroad,
I would cite some of the people I most admire in this respect as Piaras Hoban, Ann Cleare, & Gráinne Mulvey.

If you're interested in how Irish composers are doing the best places to hear
about them is on cmc.ie or from the journal of music in Ireland.
I think Grainne would be quite pleased (or maybe not) to hear you call her a young composer considering she is 46 years of age!
My opinion, there simply isn't an appetite for contemporary classical music in this country, as least not on a large scale. You have to remember that Ireland has NO history of art music unlike Germany or Britain and the concept of Irish contemporary music is quite a new concept, with the first works produced only in the last 60 years or so. Also composers of contemporary music never really reach fame and commercial success as the music simply doesn't appeal to the masses. Look at the British composers who are successful, John Tavener and Karl Jenkins, there music is much more accessible and 'listener friendly' than the music written by most contemporary composers. There are some Irish composers who have had commercial success, most noteworthy Bill Whelan with Riverdance but also other composers such as Kevin Volans who string quartet "white man sleeps" is one of the biggest selling classical records since it was recorded by the Kronos Quartet. As a composer myself I can only hope the situation improves, although honestly most composers I know are not particularly interested in commercial success.
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07-07-2012, 12:13   #4
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You're an Irish composer so where do we stand compared with other countries? Do our composers deserve being ignored, should they emigrate to achieve success or recognition, or is a lot of the stuff being done here just derivative and unoriginal? It saddens me going into my local charity shop and seeing unopened CDs from the CMC on sale! Also, why do Irish composers work year after year if they've no interest in 'commercial success'? Isn't that a bit arrogant? Surely they want their work to be heard and get noticed?
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07-07-2012, 14:09   #5
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You're an Irish composer so where do we stand compared with other countries? Do our composers deserve being ignored, should they emigrate to achieve success or recognition, or is a lot of the stuff being done here just derivative and unoriginal? It saddens me going into my local charity shop and seeing unopened CDs from the CMC on sale! Also, why do Irish composers work year after year if they've no interest in 'commercial success'? Isn't that a bit arrogant? Surely they want their work to be heard and get noticed?
When I say no interest in commercial success I mean that composers won't alter their natural style in order to achieve commercial success. If a composer writes in a particular atonal style for example, that is never going to achieve widespread popularity, but I don't think many composers would adopt a different style just to sell CD's.

As to your first question, I think other countries have a higher level of interest in contemporary music but I think is more due to countries such as Germany and France having a much longer history of art music. Some of the music being written here is a bit derivative in the same way that some of the music in other countries is derivative but there are some very good composers active in this country who enjoy artistic success. Examples being Ian Wilson, Kevin Volans, Gerald Barry, John Buckley, Jane O' Leary etc.
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08-08-2012, 17:00   #6
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there are some very good composers active in this country who enjoy artistic success. Examples being Ian Wilson, Kevin Volans, Gerald Barry, John Buckley, Jane O' Leary etc.
Damn straight. I'm a young composer myself, and it's not easy to get a career in Ireland. I'm sure it's difficult everywhere, but Ireland is pretty small and traditionally doesn't support classical music/art music particularly well.

That said, there are some composers doing very well in Ireland - the trick seems to be in making your own opportunities (though again, not as easy as it sounds). The ICC (plug plug plug) and Ergodos are two groups that come to mind that present music primarily by young composers.
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08-08-2012, 19:22   #7
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Any YouTube links to your work?
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28-01-2013, 10:48   #8
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I can see I'm a bit late to this post but I'm very keen in becoming a composer but my only problem is, are there any jobs for the future. I'm only 17 years old so I still have a while to decide but I need to be thinking about college courses. As of now, my first choice would be a BA in Composition at RIAM. So is there any hope for future irish composers?
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28-01-2013, 14:25   #9
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I can see I'm a bit late to this post but I'm very keen in becoming a composer but my only problem is, are there any jobs for the future. I'm only 17 years old so I still have a while to decide but I need to be thinking about college courses. As of now, my first choice would be a BA in Composition at RIAM. So is there any hope for future irish composers?
I did that course - feel free to PM me if you want to chat about it.

What do you mean by "hope for future Irish composers"? You're probably not going to walk out of college into a salaried job, but there's other ways of making a living while being a composer. Teaching is the main one, and in fairness everyone in music in Ireland has to teach.

And, sorry this is such a late response; I don't have any work on youtube, but I do have a soundcloud.
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28-01-2013, 22:48   #10
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Linda Buckley is doing quite well for herself these days.

Internationally, new composers are finding it tough. I don't think it's necessarily an Irish phenomenon
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29-01-2013, 12:19   #11
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What do you mean by "hope for future Irish composers"? You're probably not going to walk out of college into a salaried job, but there's other ways of making a living while being a composer. Teaching is the main one, and in fairness everyone in music in Ireland has to teach.
When I say hope I mean a future career and a good means to live. Also, what will a composer teach? Composition or an instrument? Because I've never heard of a composition teacher, apart from the lecturers in college. Here's my soundcloud as well.

Last edited by richardh330; 29-01-2013 at 12:21.
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29-01-2013, 12:36   #12
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When I say hope I mean a future career and a good means to live. Also, what will a composer teach? Composition or an instrument? Because I've never heard of a composition teacher, apart from the lecturers in college. Here's my soundcloud as well.
To be frank, rarely is composition a career as such. The cmc usually tries to support budding talent but it will never be your day job
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29-01-2013, 12:47   #13
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Stupid question but is Linda John Buckley's daughter?
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29-01-2013, 16:00   #14
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Dunno, quite possibly. I had a quick google there and found nothing.
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29-01-2013, 16:50   #15
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When I say hope I mean a future career and a good means to live. Also, what will a composer teach? Composition or an instrument? Because I've never heard of a composition teacher, apart from the lecturers in college. Here's my soundcloud as well.
I teach piano and clarinet; some places do have composition teachers outside of college but it is rare alright. You'd probably be able to teach theory as well.

Very few people have composition and no other career, and composers are expected to do more nowadays than we used to. As well as composing, you have to be able to self-promote, prepare your own scores and parts, and it's very useful to be able to conduct.

Other than teaching, you could also work in arts administration (working in public or private bodies that facilitate the arts), curate an ensemble, typeset music, or a number of other things. This is known as a "portfolio career" and to be honest, is the norm nowadays and expected from most people.
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