ICC Speak at the Irish Architectural Archive, 4 November 2016
ICC Speak sees the Irish Architectural Archive become the grounds for an exploration of communication and music in their various forms in the 21st century. The Irish Composers’ Collective’s latest takeover event features eight interdisciplinary installations in various locations in the building and features the work of over twenty composers.
Situated on the first floor of the archive, In Utero is an immersive, almost meditative experience created by Anna Clifford and Veronica Szabo as part of theatre company Very Clock, recreating the conditions and sounds of the womb. Participants are invited to surrender their senses and sit, blindfolded, within a tent, listening to the binaural sounds of In Utero through wireless headsets. The red-tinged light of the room, and the squelching, pulsating sounds proved highly effective sensory stimuli, with the muffled, and indistinct sounds of speech, laughter, and eventually distress establishing an unexpected narrative. Clifford and Szabo’s work questions the treatment of the woman’s body and voice in Irish society, a theme present in a number of works on the night.
This theme presents itself once again in ‘Elevated Speech’. This installation—a tongue-in-cheek reference to its location in an elevator shaft—is another intimate experience. Performed by the ever-delightful Michelle O’Rourke, Darragh Kelly’s Ausgang kickstarts the performance, seeking ‘to explore what it is for a man to put words into the mouth of a woman in Ireland in 2016’. The piece employs something of a shock-tactic, as O’Rourke begins her performance a floor below her audience, travelling up the elevator and through them to her stage. The three works that comprise ‘Elevated Speech’ see a shift from the arresting and erratic extended techniques of Ausgang to Natasa Paulberg’s The Night has a Thousand Eyes. Taking clear influence from the Baroque tradition of laments, The Night has a Thousand Eyes is a clear and soulful communication of love and loss, contrasting music as a means of direct communication with the more coded musical texts that precede it.
‘Tweet Responses’, performed by the Kirkos Ensemble, features works by Adam Bradley, Kevin Free and Robbie Blake, all of which allow the audience to participate by communicating with the performers through the hashtag #speakmusic. This interactive aleatoric technique illustrated the double-edged blade of online communication—while mostly successful, there were those performances hampered by the lack of online interaction, particularly those with older audiences.
The final concert presents us with three poems, and two works of music inspired by each. Each poem is represented by a vocal and instrumental work performed by Tonnta Music and Kirkos Ensemble respectively. Of the three, it is the first that provides the highlights: Róisín Hayes’ Three Little Birds—based on the poem of the same name by Afric McGlinchey—and Shell Dooley’s Three.
Three Little Birds is an atmospheric piece that draws upon McGlinchey’s poem for text, presenting a dialogue between mother, father, and unborn child. Making use of drone like sustained notes, and juxtaposing the voice groups within Tonnta, Hayes’ work has an ethereal quality that is grounded by her use of a whistled birdsong motif. Dooley’s contribution seems to conjure up images of childhood, like Hayes making use of atmospheric drones, but with the addition of a playful four note motif in the oboe. The later addition of a violin line adds a somewhat bittersweet quality to the piece, colouring McGlinchey’s text with a slightly nostalgic feel.
Installation 1: Echo
Éna Brennan – Echo
Installation 2: Postal Notes
Robbie Blake – Postal Notes
Installation 3: Elevated Speech
Darragh Kelly – Ausgang
Killian O’Kelly – You Will Only Make Matters Worse
Natasa Paulberg – The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
Installation 4: Unheard
Maria Minguella – Unheard
Installation 5: Speaking with the Past
Christopher McAteer – Burial At Sea
Galen Mac Cába – An Irish Airman Foresees his Death
Daniel Barkley – 1916 Patchwork
Robert Connell – Ireland’s Blood
Installation 6: Tweet Responses
Robbie Blake – a murmur
Kevin Free – TPP
Adam Bradley – #6000
Installation 7: In Utero
Anna Clifford & Veronica Szabo – In Utero
Shell Dooley – Three
Róisín Hayes – Three Little Birds
Chris Moriarty-Pearson – String Trio
Amy Rooney – Singing Anam Cara
Richard Hughes – Week Eight
Patrick O’Connor – Week Eight