SYMPOSIUM Seán Ó Riada
Donal Sarsfield - WINNING COMPOSER
Commissioned Piece: A Grain in the Balance*
The Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition was initiated in 1972, and today, the present format of the Seán Ó Riada Competition offers a platform for Irish composers to have their work judged and rewarded purely on its own merits without the judges being influenced by the reputation or status of the composer. All compositions are submitted under a pseudonym, with the author’s real name not being revealed until after the judges’ decision has been made. Works composed in the Irish language are encouraged. The competition has, as a central aim, the intention of providing Irish choirs with fresh, authentic material for inclusion in their programmes. The competition has attracted the attention of many highly-regarded composers, with past winners including Solfa Carlisle, Rhona Clarke, Patrick Connolly, Frank Corcoran, Séamas de Barra, Eoghan Desmond, Michael Holohan, Marian Ingoldsby, Donal MacErlaine, Simon MacHale, Michael McGlynn, Kevin O’Connell, Amanda Feery and last year’s winner, Criostóir Ó Loingsigh. With nearly 200 compositions being submitted in the past 8 years of the new format, the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition clearly highlights the number of composers now working and living in Ireland, and further demonstrates the Cork International Choral Festival’s continuing commitment to encourage the composition and performance of contemporary music.
As a composer Donal Sarsfield primarily records, transforms and organises sounds. In all his recent work he is interested in stimulating a perceptual link between the listener, the work and the world in which we live. His PhD in Electroacoustic Composition at the University of Manchester, funded by the Elizabeth Maconchy Composition Fellowship, involved composing pieces which focus on one particular sound source, be it the sound of clapping, doors, or snare drums. The goal was to develop a greater awareness about listening and sound. Since his PhD, Donal has broadened his compositional approach to look at the same concerns, but from different perspectives. He also performs as a singer, both in a renaissance choir in Liverpool, and recently as a performer of his own works. “I am delighted to have been chosen for the Ó Riada competition. Having attended Cork International Choral Festival before, it has a particular energy which is infectious and it is a pleasure to be invited back when the city will be filled with so many incredible voices. Hearing my piece performed by Chamber Choir Ireland is also an honour which I will enjoy more than words can express. Although winning is a boost for the confidence, when I sent the score in the post I felt somehow that I had already won; can anybody imagine a greater prize than music in one’s life? ” Donal Sarsfield February 2018 Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition Runner-Up Kenneth Edge – When You are Old * Both new compositions will receive their world premieres by Chamber Choir Ireland in their Festival Gala Concert. See page 15 for more details. As part of the Choral Symposium the Festival will feature A Grain in the Balance (winning composition) and When You are Old (runner up) as part of Chamber Choir Ireland’s exploration of composition, performance and treatment through a performance-reading under the direction of Paul Hillier in an interactive workshop session on Friday 20th April at 2pm in CIT Cork School of Music. See Page 42-45 for more details.