Nestled in the crook of tiny Fishamble Street near Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin’s City Centre is the offices and library of the Contemporary Music Centre. I was inspired to pay them a visit after attending my second round of fabulous free lunchtime symphony concerts in the Horizons Series.
I spoke with Evonne Ferguson, director of the CMC who said of the organization’s main goals, “We have a national remit to document, develop, and promote [Irish] contemporary music.”
And so they do. At the Fishamble Street offices, they maintain an impressive publicly-accessible library of scores, recordings, books, and concert programs of Irish performers and composers. Music enthusiasts can visit the library to peruse and study this archive to see, read, and hear what is being written by living composers from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
But music is meant to be performed, heard, and enjoyed, not just kept in a library. The CMC promotes a number of lectures, seminars, and — most importantly — concerts and performances of modern Irish music, many of which are free. As we were chatting, the 2015 Horizons series was just finishing up, but the CMC was looking forward to the Salon Series of small, intimate composer chats and performances, Musical Tales with the Dublin City Public Libraries, the New Music Dublin Festival, Culture Night, and many others. The full, collated calendar of CMC-sponsored events and other new music programs around Ireland can be found at the CMC website.
Fishamble Street has a unique musical history of its own. G.F. Handel famously premiered his unforgettable oratorio Messiah at the nearby Fishamble Music Theatre, which sadly is no longer standing. The memory of the moment remains, as Ms. Ferguson went on to say, “There is a statue which commemorates the exact location of that music hall. It’s a statue of Handel in full flight conducting, so it’s quite easy to spot where it was.”
While Handel himself is no longer with us (unless someone takes a peek beneath the floor of Westminster Abbey to check), his music remains to delight audiences the world over every day. It’s important to support contemporary artistic creation to ensure that our own posterity has a rich literature to enjoy in years to come.
“We’re the organization for today’s Handels.” Ferguson went on to say, “We’re promoting their works, we’re documenting their scores, we represent two hundred composers… and so we’re really making sure that Irish contemporary music by living composers is being documented, being promoted, and being developed.”
If a visit to Ireland is in your future or if you are residing on the Emerald Isle, I would strongly recommend finding, following, and supporting the Contemporary Music Centre and the good work they are doing to support and preserve beautiful home-grown Irish music for future generations.
- CMC Website (www.cmc.ie)
- CMC on Twitter (www.twitter.com/cmcireland)
- CMC on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cmcireland)
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