2013 – a look back on the year that was


2013 – the year that was

The year of Our Lord 2013 is almost over and at least 2013 things have happened to me this year, but rather than list them all here is an abridged summary. Lots of travelling, meeting new people and hearing interesting things in interesting places with interesting people. 


This year was a pretty hectic  in terms of education. I’m out of my masters a little over 18 months and I’ve been trying to continue to learn as much I can. I’ve been luck enough to get the opportunity to study on a number of courses, both in Ireland and internationally. The first was the Young Composers’ Meeting in Apeldoorn. This was a pretty terrifying experience as I got to write for a 16 piece ensemble with voice. Most of the instruments were ones which I had never written for before, and I wrote the piece as we drift softly (into the fog) for the course.

This was followed with a day workshop in Cork organised by the West Cork Chamber Music Festival String Quartet Workshop and the Contemporary Music Centre. The workshop was mentored by Deirdre Gribbin with the Vanbrugh string quartet the performing all the pieces and offering feedback and suggestions. During the summer I got to travel to Italy to the beautiful village of Maccagno to spend two weeks taking composition lessons and having rehearsals of a piece I had written for the touring forces of the Thin Edge New Music Collective. The group consisted of flute, accordion, violin and piano and was a really interesting combination to write for and I wrote the piece one for the course.

Shortly after this I was invited to take part in the Walled City Music Festival for a two day residency with Brian Irvine and the Fidelio Trio. The premise of the residency was that we had to write a piece in the two days inspired by events in the news. Brian provided us with a selection of papers and we had the onerous task of producing a piece in a very short period of time. It’s not something I’d normally do, I’m very slow and meticulous normally when I work, but the experience was interesting in that it forced me to try out different techniques and approach composition in a different way. Brian was a great help in giving me ideas for how to get past blocks quickly and techniques for experimenting with material to generate ideas.

Aside from all the musical learning I’ve gotten interested in the Alexander Technique and have been taking lessons with Seán Mac Erlaine. I was also luck enough to attend workshops with Richard Brennan and Don Weed.

In your own time

2013 was also the year that I released my first piece of music. In this case it was in the form of an Android app, so not the most conventional way to release music but it was what I am interested in and working on. It was a really interesting piece to write and I couldn’t have put the app together without the help of Mick Cody, who developed the Android side of the work, and Shane Finan, who created the artwork for the app. The app was release in April but we did a pre-release as part of the inaugural New Music Dublin festival. Here’s a podcast from the Journal of Music about it.

In Your Own Time was released on Google Play in April and it got some great reviews from Noise Blog and Totally Dublin. It also allowed me to get out and give a lot of talks at different events including Flight of Ideas, New Music Dublin, Visions for Ireland, soundSCAPE Music Festival, Rough Draft Conference and, a massive milestone for me, the MusicTechFest in London. It was really flattering to be invited to all of these different events and to meet so many enthusiastic and inspiring people. To finished off the year In Your Own Time even got a write up in I care if you listen, a blog about contemporary music. It’s been a really great experience releasing this piece of music and I’ve been really grateful for all of the excellent feedback and conversations I’ve had as a result. Here’s a performed version of In Your Own Time, played by the superlative Kate Ellis to finish out the year.

Lastly I want to thank all of the amazing people I met throughout the year, all the teacher who gave me their time and my fellow travellers along the way. All of whom have made 2013 an incredibly fulfilling year. Here’s to seeing everyone again in the New Year and a great 2014!