Daragh Black Hynes has been announced as the winner of the prestigious 2022 Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition at the Cork International Choral Festival.
As the winner, his composition Behind This Light will receive its world première in the spectacular surrounds of St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral Cork on Friday 29th April at 7pm. The performance will be part of the annual collaborative concert with the festival’s choir-in-residence Chamber Choir Ireland. It promises to be a wonderful evening of song and a fine occasion to be there in person as the festival welcomes back in person events.
Daragh Black Hynes is a Dublin born composer and guitarist. His instrumental works have been performed by ConTempo Quartet, Concorde Ensemble, Elaine Clarke, The Doolan Quartet, Kazuhito and Koyumi Yamashita, Cormac Ó hAodáin and others, and his electronic music output includes the 2020 release ‘Relative States Volume I’, an album of works which received extensive play by Bernard Clarke on RTE Lyric FM The Blue of the Night.
His recent works include solo horn work Ditan, composed for Cormac Ó hAodáin as part of the CMC Colleagues initiative and premiered as part of Culture Night 2021; guitar piece Proteus for Hungarian guitarist Katalin Koltai, which was chosen for the ‘Ulysses Journey 2022’ project; the score to the award-winning animated short ‘The Dead Hands of Dublin’; and string quartet ‘Procession’ which won the 2018 West Cork Chamber Music Festival Composition Competition. He is currently collaborating with flutist Emma Coulthard on a new work for flute as part of the 2022 CMC Colleagues initiative.
He studied composition at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama with Jane O’Leary and subsequently relocated to Beijing where he completed a master’s in composition with Jia Guoping at the Central Conservatory of Music. On returning to Dublin, he undertook PhD studies with Gráinne Mulvey at TU Dublin Conservatoire, completed in 2021. On receiving the news of his win, Daragh said,
It’s a great honour to be chosen as winner of the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition. I’m in highly esteemed company with the winners of previous years, and it’s wonderful to have the chance to participate in the Cork International Choral Festival. I had decided at the outset to use a text by Joyce for my work, and ultimately selected Ulysses – I found the process of setting Joyce’s text to music incredibly inspiring, and I’m absolutely delighted that the work will be premiered by the brilliant Chamber Choir Ireland!
His composition, Behind This Lightwas chosen by the members of the judging panel, CCI member Eoghan Desmond, composer Rhona Clarke and Paul Hillier, Artistic Director and Conductor of CCI, who summarised their reaction and evaluation to Daragh Black Hynes’s winning piece as follows:
The composer skilfully exploits the choral texture to illustrate Joyce's text, and the adventurous harmonic language mirrors the famous stream of consciousness. The diversity of rhythms and varying sense of pace made this piece stand out from the other entrants, and will make it interesting also for any choir that may sing it.
Initiated in 1972, 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, Criostóir Ó Loingsigh, Donal Sarsfield, James May, Peter Leavy and last year’s winner Norah Constance Walsh. With nearly 220 compositions being submitted in the past 10 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.
Further details will be announced in the coming weeks on this year’s Cork International Choral Festival which after two years of innovatively going virtual will make a return to in-person on stage event series.