This 45-minute music-theatre performance is about Hurling, an ancient Gaelic sport – highly physical and sonically rich – that is popular in Ireland but almost unknown elsewhere. The game is very much tied up with Irish identity. Seán Clancy is Irish yet cannot play Hurling. Andy Ingamells is a recent English immigrant to Ireland and took up Hurling as a way to integrate. Seán recently became a father and hoped to learn Hurling so that he could play it with his son in the future. As musicians both Andy and Seán wanted to find a distinctly musical way to approach the game.
During the piece the two performers struggle to overcome their lack of Hurling skills, whilst an emerging spoken narrative interspersed at key points displays their struggle against their demons as they adapt to the changing circumstances in their lives. These changing circumstances are things audiences can relate to: the birth of a child; moving to an unfamiliar place; trying to fit in; choosing between work and family; facing up to your own limitations.
The piece features sumptuous synth music, playful and unconventional approaches to playing the piano, detailed field recordings and harmonious vocals juxtaposed with football chants. The musical and physical action takes place around the audience, fully immersing them in the sound world.
This short tour kicked off at Volcano, The Iceland Building, in Swansea on 4 March 2020, presented with NAWR. The next performance is in Dublin (with Kirkos) on 6 September as part of Biosphere; and the tour will close in Birmingham (with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Post Paradise) – date to be announced.
Andy Ingamells is an experimental musician who develops unusual methods of composition that blur the line between composer and performer. He has filled taxis with recorder players reading traffic lights as notation, played gold-painted pianos overflowing with buckets of red wallpaper paste, invented the game of violin cricket, and been tickled by improvisers playing his ticklish body as a musical instrument.
His work has been performed in the National Portrait Gallery, the Handel & Hendrix House Museum and Café Oto in London, the Orgelpark and Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, the Lapidarium of Kings in Copenhagen, Walled City Festival in Derry, Birmingham International Dance Festival, London Contemporary Music Festival and Cheltenham Music Festival.
His work has been described as “superbly entertaining” (Tempo), “witty and fun” (Frieze) “sharp and impressive” (Classical Music Magazine) and “literally breathtaking … gripping physicality and energy” (Nonclassical).
Andy is a graduate of the Master Artistic Research programme at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and completed his bachelor study at Birmingham Conservatoire, winning the BMus Prize and the Orchestral Composition Prize, in addition to the Composition Department Prize for his destructive Piano Recital. He was awarded a PhD in 2017 supported by the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, with the aim of his research being to develop an expanded compositional practice that can serve as a blueprint to equip composer-performers with invaluable skills to question existing orthodoxies within a changing music world.
Dublin born composer Seán Clancy’s music has been described as ‘equal part sacred, seductive and superficial’ (Tempo), and as ‘exploring the tensions between found and original material, narrative and rupture, elite and vernacular values, and between innovation and intervention’ (Journal of Music). His work deals with examining minimal amounts of material over extended periods of time, and most recently he has been exploring this process by performing on synthesizers, often collaborating with other soloists and ensembles.
Over the past number of years Seán has been a recipient of a Culture Ireland GB18 Award (2018), composer in association with Workers Union Ensemble (2015/16), an artist in residence at the Moog Soundlab (2015 and 2018), composer in residence at EMS Elektronmusikstudion Stockholm (2014), BCMG/SAM Composer in Residence (2010-2012), and a recipient of an RTÉ Lyric FM/IMRO Composition Bursary (2012). Additionally, he has been a featured composer in the BBC Radio 3 Open Ear Series (2018), the New Music Dublin Festival (2017), Composing the Island Festival, Dublin (2016) MATA Festival, New York (2016), Beijing Modern Music Festival (2016), RTÉ NSO Music of Our Time Series (2016), New Dots Series, London (2016), Culture Night, Ireland (2015) David Lang’s ‘What?… Wow Festival of Music’ (2015), Soundings at the Austrian Cultural Forum (2015), the RTÉ NSO Horizons Series (2014), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2013), Quatuor Bozzini Composers’ Kitchen (2013), Ergodos Printing House Festival (2007) and Birmingham’s Frontiers Festival (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010).
Seán is fortunate to have been commissioned and performed by many fantastic ensembles and artists from around the world. He has developed particularly close ties with the RTÉ NSO, BCMG, Quatuor Bozzini, Crash Ensemble, RTÉ Contempo Quartet, Ensemble KROCK, Workers Union Ensemble, Orkest de Ereprijs, Decibel, Fidelio Trio, Thallein Ensemble, Dublin Guitar Quartet, and Thumb. In the past number of years, he has also worked with soloists Susan Narucki, and Garth Knox, as well as collaborating with conductors Alan Pierson, Richard Baker, Gavin Moloney, Clement Power, Ben Oliver, Dan Watson, Dan Rosina, and Ciaran Crilly. Recently, he has also undertaken a number of projects with Rock/Electronic musicians Katie Kim, Thomas Parkes, Simon Goff, and has appeared in support of Matana Roberts & Kelly Jayne Jones. He has received support from organisations such as the Britten Pears-Foundation, Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, Sound & Music, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, The Arts Council of Ireland, IMRO, and Culture Ireland. He has been broadcast on amongst others: WNYC (USA), WFMT Chicago (USA), RTÉ Lyric FM (Ireland), BBC Radio 3 (UK), and Klassika Raadio (Estonia). His first recording Forty Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football was released by Birmingham Record Company in 2015; this was followed by the self release of an Ornamental Light Glows Beneath the Tinted Window in 2017 and Small, Far Away in 2018.
Seán received his PhD from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where he is now a Senior Lecturer in Composition, and he holds degrees from King’s College London, University College Dublin, and the Ecole Nationale de Musique. Principle teachers have included Joe Cutler, Philippe Leroux, and Howard Skempton (alongside informal studies with Gerald Barry and David Lang). He is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland.