Brian Irvine & Elaine Agnew
“Some of the most exhilarating and imaginative music you'll ever hope to hear…… musical play in the highest sense: exuberant, spontaneous and irresistibly alive.” Washington Post
Brian was born in Belfast. His huge body of work reflects an obsessive love of music creation in all its forms. It includes operas, orchestral works, large-scale community oratorios, film, theatre and dance scores as well as numerous ensemble, solo, chamber pieces.
His music has been performed all over the world and commissioned by many international artists and organisations including: Welsh National Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Wexford Festival Opera, Northern Sinfonia, BBC Radio 3, BBC Concert Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Scottish Ballet, Northern Ireland Opera, Opera Theatre Company, Bath International Music Festival, Glasgow International Music Festival, Lyric Youth Opera, Music Network, London 2012 Olympics Festival, Roald Dahl Foundation, Channel Four, 4-mality percussion ensemble, Belfast Festival at Queens, Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Live Music Now, Sonorities Festival of New Music, Homecoming Music Festival (Moscow).
He was the Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast for four years and is currently Visiting Professor of Creative Arts at the University of Ulster.
Together with his own ensemble (BBC Radio 3 Music Award winners) he has toured extensively throughout USA, Russia, France, Portugal, Germany, Scotland, Malta, Cyrus, Poland, Scotland, Ireland, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands and has appeared at some of the world’s leading international music festivals/venues including several appearances at the Bath International Music Festival (UK), Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank (London, UK), Gulbenkian Institute (Portugal) , Washington National Library of Congress (USA), Ouest Nord Ouest Festival, (France), Glasgow International Festival (UK), Koúcióù Úw. Jana, Gdañsk (Poland), Festival d'été de Valence (France), Festival Sous les Pommiers, (France) Homecoming Festival (Russia), Dublin Festival (Ireland), Moving on Music Festival (UK), Sonorities Festival of New Music (UK) and The International House of Music (Moscow, Russia).
Brian has also collaborated with and written for many internationally established artists across different genres including Seamus Heaney (poet), 4-mality percussion ensemble, Joanna MacGregor (piano), Billy Jenkins (guitar), Keith Tippet (piano), Paul Dunmall (saxophone/reeds), Roman Mints (violin), Matthew Bourne (piano), David Holmes, Snow Patrol, Duke Special, Keiji Haino (guitar), Joe Morris (guitar), LAU (BBC Folk award winners) as well as film makers, sculptors and animators including Eduard Bersudsky, Jari Neimenin, Joel Simon, John McCluskey and John Mcilduff.
He has won a number of awards for his work including a British Composers Award for Opera, BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award for best new work, Major Individual Artist Award (Arts Council of Northern Ireland), First Trust/University of Ulster Distinguished Graduate Award, the MCPS Joyce Dixey Award for Composition and the Bass Ireland Award.
Recently his opera Shelter Me form the Rain won the 2011 Irish Allianz Arts and Business Award for “best use of creativity in the community” and his large scale children’s oratorio Rain Falling Up was shortlisted for a 2011 British Composers Awards. The junk opera Postcards from Dumbworld was also shortlisted for a 2011 Irish Times Theatre Award.
His recent orchestral works include: Strange Attractors (40’) for orchestra and LAU commissioned by the Sage Gateshead/ PRS foundation; My cow’s not pretty, but it’s pretty to me - recorded for BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now performed by the Ulster Orchestra and Praise aloud the trees for double orchestra and choir, a collaboration with Nobel laureate poet Seamus Heaney commissioned by BBC Radio 3. In 2011 he completed the music score to John McIlduff’s feature film Behold the Lamb as well as a short film opera entitled: To Do List.
He is currently working on an opera with writer Owen McCafferty (commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera) and a violin concerto commissioned by the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. His latest ensemble project Melonhead made its debut appearance at the Moving on Music festival in March 2012.
County Antrim born Elaine Agnew is a commissioned composer at this years BBC Proms and her new work Dark Hedges will be premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in London by the Ulster Youth Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and Sir James Galway with conductor JoAnn Falletta on 4 August 2012 and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Elaine’s many works have been performed, commissioned and broadcast worldwide by artists such as the Vogler Quartet, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, Lontano, cellists Robert Cohen and Evþen Rattay, the European Union Chamber and Scottish Chamber Orchestras, the National Chamber and Kaunas Chamber Choirs, violinists Isabelle Faust and Catherine Leonard, pianists Angela Hewitt and Romain Descharmes and conductors Kenneth Montgomery, Jane Glover and Thierry Fischer.
In May 2008, Elaine was appointed as the first RTÉ lyric fm Composer-in-Residence in association with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and her first two commissions are on the recent CD Hiccup: RTÉ Lyric fm commissions. A second year's residency included an orchestral fanfare Jump Up!, a choral work Appearances and a second carol Christmas Day. Both carols are due for CD release this Christmas and both orchestral pieces will be released along with Elaine’s other orchestral works on a solo CD as part of the Composers of Ireland series funded by RTÉ and The Arts Council of Ireland.
Her works have featured at major festivals: the London BMIC Cutting Edge and Spitalfields, Sonorities, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the Slovenian Unicum Festival, EXPO 2000, and in many world-class venues: the Carnegie and Wigmore Halls and the JF Kennedy and South Bank Centres. She has been a featured composer at the National Concert Hall’s Composer’s Choice, the RTÉ NSO Horizons Series and the Boyle Arts Festival. Many of her works have been commercially released: Twilight and The Moon by the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Seagull by pianist Isabelle O’Connell. The Moon is featured on the CD Music from Ireland and presented to the visiting parties of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama during their state visits to Ireland last year.
Grammy award-winning Irish singer Susan McKeown recorded The Crack in the Stairs on her latest album Singing in the Dark.
Recent premieres include hhmmmm... by clarinetist Paul Roe, Gesture by the Ðkampa Quartet and Love is a Simple Thing, a collaboration with writer Veronica Coburn on a live radio drama score for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Recently the Ivernia Orchestra performed Strings A-stray in Manchester Cathedral while the Magogo Kamerosrkest gave its Dutch premiere in Tilberg. Twilight was performed by the Irish Chamber Orchestra in the University Concert Hall in Limerick and by the Amaretti Chamber Orchestra in Manchester. Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba performed Sinfonietta in Havana and Isabelle O’Connell performed Seagull on a solo tour of New Zealand and Ireland.
Elaine is an renowned music animateur, much in demand for her innovative and creative work with people of all ages across a broad field of work that includes education, community and healthcare. With many years’ experience, this work has taken her to America, Iceland, Indonesia and throughout Ireland and the UK. She is the Artistic Advisor of Music Network's CPD Programme and she co-programmed and managed Play, the 2011 Summer Music programme at The Ark in Dublin.
Elaine was awarded a Major Individual Arts Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and spent time in Sydney, Australia where she worked with composer and mentor Elena Kats-Chernin. Other awards includes residencies at the Banff Centre of Creative Arts and at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. In 2009 she represented Ireland at the 56th International Rostrum of Composers with her orchestral work Make A Wish.
Elaine read music at Queen’s University Belfast and studied with composers Kevin Volans and Michael Alcorn and then followed with postgraduate studies in composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with James MacMillan and Judith Weir. She has also studied with Pawe³ Szymanski, Louis Andriessen, Tom Johnson and Elena Kats-Chernin.
The Dark Hedges
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