The Cork International Choral Festival has a long-standing commitment to foster awareness and appreciation of new choral music.  With this in mind a seminar was initiated in 1962 as part of the Festival programme by the late Aloys Fleischmann, Professor of Music at University College Cork, as being central to this purpose.  Between 1962 and 2018, 153 works from 128 Irish and international composers were commissioned.

The Seminar on New Choral Music maintained its initial purpose of commissioning new works to provide a platform for, and to encourage the composition, and performance of new choral music in Ireland, and to support their inclusion, and that of other new music, onto the regular repertoire of Irish choirs. In the last few years the Seminar specifically promoted the commission of new works by Irish composers to develop a wider knowledge of, and understanding of, Irish compositional life. Premiere performances were integrated into a full concert programme by Chamber Choir Ireland.  The style of presentation made the seminar very accessible to all, and assisted in making current practice in the performance of new choral music accessible to the wider choral sector in Ireland.

Seminar History and Background
Séamas de Barra
 

In 1962, eight years after the Cork International Choral Festival was established, Aloys Fleischmann, Director of the Festival, initiated the Seminar on Contemporary Choral Music. Although its success in promoting the development of choral singing in Ireland was already generally acknowledged by this time, Fleischmann decided it was now appropriate to extend the scope of the Festival by encouraging also the development of modern choral composition. Accordingly he established a scheme whereby a number of contemporary composers would be commissioned each year to write new·works, which would be premiered in the Festival programme.

Fleischmann was aware, however, that the reception of new music can often be problematical: in his experience, many listeners tended to find the idioms of contemporary music merely puzzling, and reaction was not infrequently one of incomprehension – a situation that was more acute in the 1960s, perhaps, than it is today. It was in order to provide a context, therefore, for the reception of the newly commissioned pieces, that he established the Seminar on Contemporary Choral Music, structured to allow for the presentation of analyses of the new·works, informal performances before the official premiers in the City Hall, and contributions from the composers and the conductors and members of the participating choirs.

Following Fleischmann’s retirement in 1987 as Director of the Festival, the format of the Seminar changed, and after undergoing a number of further transformations, it was temporarily suspended in 2004. In 2008, a revitalized version of the Seminar of Contemporary Choral Music was reintroduced into the Festival’s calendar of events.

The Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition was initiated in 1972 in recognition of the creative life and work of Seán Ó Riada (1931-71).  It was initially conceived of as an encouragement to amateur adult Irish choirs to select and perform existing or newly composed original works in the Irish language by an Irish composer.  The trophy was presented for the best performance.  In 1976, the competition became specifically a composition competition.  It was open to composers, born or resident in Ireland, to set a poem in Irish for a cappella choir, no performance applied.  In 1978 the competition was further adapted to encourage Irish amateur choirs to commission original works from Irish composers for performance at the festival, the trophy being awarded to the choir.  The aim of the competition was threefold (a) to encourage Irish composers to write new works in the Irish language, (b) to widen the accessibility of new works in the Irish language for amateur Irish choirs, and (c) to enhance the existing repertoire of Irish choral music.  Following a period when interest in the competition diminished it was discontinued, its format not valued either by composers or choirs.  In 2010 the competition was reintroduced utilising a totally new format, and the novel aspect of scores being entered under Pseudonym to protect the identity of the composer and ensure an unbiased decision on the part of the selection panel.  To enhance the status of the composer and provide an incentive, the winning composer attended the Festival and the winning composition was included as one of the works presented and discussed at the Seminar on New Choral Music, organised as part of the Festival’s Choral Symposium.  The new format was an instant success.  Since 2010 to date, 200 compositions have been received testifying to the present interest in, and healthy state of Irish composition.  Previous winners of the competition include Solfa Carlile, Rhona Clarke, Patrick Connolly, Frank Corcoran, Séamas de Barra, Eoghan Desmond, Amanda Feery,  Michael Holohan, Marian Ingoldsby, Donal Mac Erlaine, Simon MacHale, Michael McGlynn, Kevin O’Connell, and last year’s winner, Criostóir Ó Loingsigh.  A number of these works have been published by international choral publishing houses.

Choral Seminar/Symposium: Contemporary Choral Music Commissions, and Featured Works

More details can be found on the Cork City Music Library website

Archer, Violet (USA); Violet Reflections 1984

Bäck, Sven-Erik (Sweden); The naming of cats 1981

Badings, Henk (Holland); Evocations 1962; Cinq poèmes chinois 1973

Barra, Séamas de (Ireland); Magnificat 1983; Song of Pan 1989

Barry, Gerald (Ireland); The Coming of Winter 1997; Long Time 2012

Bassett, Leslie (USA); A ring of emeralds 1979

Bates, Enda (Ireland); Euphony 2013

Beaumont, Adrian (UK); In paradisum 1979

Beckerath, Alfred von (Germany); Oratio Sancti Augustine 1970

Bialas, Günter (Germany); Lamento 1987

Blacher, Boris (Germany); Anacaona 1969; Vokalisen 1974

Bodley, Seóirse (Ireland); Trí aortha 1963; The radiant moment 1979

Böhlke, Eric (Germany); Gebet des Franz von Assisi 1971

Bourgeois, Derek (UK); A tail of two fishes 1989

Bose, Hans-Jürgen von (Germany); Four madrigals 1986

Boydell, Brian (Ireland); (i) I loved a lass, (ii) Come sleep 1964; Mouth music 1974

Bromhead, Jerome de (Ireland); Joy 1982

Buckley, John (Ireland); Scél lem duíb 1981; He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven 1996

Burgan, Patrick (France); Cry 2002

Busto, Javier (Basque Country, Spain); Ametsetan 2003

Byers, David (Northern Ireland); Rhymes 1980

*Carlile, Solfa (Ireland); Upon the Rose 2013

*Connolly, Patrick (Ireland); Geimhridh 2011

*Corcoran, Frank (Ireland); Two Unholy Haikus 2012

Clarke, Rhona (Ireland); Rorate Caeli 1994, The Kiss 2008

Cleary, Siobhán (Ireland); Two Poems by Wendy 2011

Corcoran, Frank (Ireland); Symphonies for voices 1975

Cox, David Harold (UK); Song of the Paving Stones 1996

Csemiczky, Miklos (Hungary); Two Motets: Ave Regina Caelorum and Hodie Christus Natus Est 1997

Cruft, Adrian (UK); Medieval prayer 1976

Deane, Raymond (Ireland); … e mi sovvien l’eterno 1988

*Desmond, Eoghan (Ireland); Mother Goose’s Melodies 2015

Dickinson, Peter (UK); Three Carols: Christmas is Coming, For the Nativity, O Christmas Time O Hateful Time 1998

Eaton, John (USA); Duo 1977

Eben, Petr (CzechRepublic); De circuitu aeterno 1991; Rhythmus de gaudiis Paradisi 1996

Farrell, Eibhlís (Ireland); Exaudi voices 1992

*Feery, Amanda (Ireland); Changed Utterly 2016

Fennessy, David (Ireland); Letter to Michael 2014; Ne Reminicaris 2017

Fischer, Alfred (Canada); Kodesh 1992

Fleischmann, Aloys (Ireland);[1] Games 1990

Fortner, Wolfgang (Germany); Psalm 125 1963

Forbes, Sebastian (UK); Seasonal roundelay 1984

Fritschel, James (USA); Four about life and death 1976; Lament of a man for his son 1980

Gardner, John (UK); Five philanders 1975; Four part-songs to poems by Robert Herrick 1992

Geary, Bernard (Ireland); The trumpet 1984

Genzmer, Harald (Germany); Irische Harfe 1966

Hamel, Peter Michael (Germany); Dona nobis pacem 1985

Hamilton, Andrew (Ireland); Everything is Ridiculous 2009

Hamilton, Andrew (Ireland); music for thomas bernhard, 2018

Hoddinott, Alun (Wales); Danegeld 1964

Holmboe, Vagn (Denmark); Song at sunset 1979

Holohan, Michael (Ireland); Quis est Deus? 2002

Howells, Herbert (UK); The summer is coming 1965

Iannaccone, Anthony (USA); A Walt Whitman madrigal 1985

Ingoldsby, Marian (Ireland); Regeneration 1995

Josephs, Wilfred (UK); Spring songs 1981

Joubert, John (UK); Three portraits 1983

Kelemen, Milko (Yugoslavia); Drei irischen Volkslieder; 1980

Kelly, Bryan (Ireland); Dover Beach1995

Killmayer, Wilhelm (Germany); Speranza 1977; Sonntagnachmittagskaffee 1983

Kinsella, John (Ireland); Three children’s songs 1977; Dawn 1986

Kocsár, Miklós (Hungary); Six choruses 1982

Kodály, Zoltán (Hungary); Ode to Music 1963[2]

Koszewski, Andrzej (Poland); Pastorale 1975

Kyllonen, Timo-Juhani (Finland); Innisfree Op. 33 1994

Leeuw, Ton de (Holland); The birth of music 1976

LeFanu, Nicola (UK); On The Wind – A Lament 1997

*MacErlaine, Donal (Ireland); Solomon Grundy 2014

*Mac Hale, Simon (Ireland); With Heart and Soul and Voice 2010

Maconchy, Elizabeth (Ireland); Nocturnal 1965; Prayer before birth 1972

Mäntyjärvy, Jaako (Finland); Psalm 150 in Ken Treble Bob Minort 1999

Martin, Philip (UK); Three Gaelic lyrics 1985

Martinez, Odaline de la (USA); Two American madrigals 1978

Mathias, William (Wales); A May Magnificat 1978

Maw, Nicholas (UK); Five Irish songs 1973

*May, James (USA); street after street alike 2019

McCabe, John (UK); Siberia 1980

McGlynn, Michael (Ireland); When the War is Over 1999

McNeff, Stephen (UK); A Half Darkness 2016

Mellers, Wilfrid (UK); Cloud canticle 1971

Mellnäs, Arne (Sweden); Spring 1995

Merkelys, Remigijus (Lithuania); Kyrie 1992

Milhaud, Darius (France); Traversée 1962

Mulvey, Gráinne (Ireland); Stabat Mater 2003

Nees, Vic (Belgium); Babel 1998

*Ó Loingsigh, Criostóir; Scél Lemm Dúib 2017

Ó Riada, Seán (Ireland); Ceathramhaintí Éagsamhla 1962

Ó Suilleabháin, Micheál (Ireland); Maranatha 2000

O’Regan, Tarik (UK); The Spring 2008

Panufnik, Roxanna (UK); Two Poems by Wendy 2010

Peeters, Flor (Belgium); In Convertendo Dominus 1963

Potter, A.J. (Ireland); Ten epigrams 1969

Purser, John (Scotland); Love in season 1976

Reutter, Hermann (Germany); Tres laudes 1964

Rubbra, Edmund (UK); Tenebrae: Third nocturne 1962; Three Greek folk-songs 1977

*Sarsfield, Donal (Ireland); A grain in the balance, 2018

Schurmann, Gerard (UK); Summer is coming 1970

Shchedrin, Rodrion (USSR); Concertino 1984

Searle, Humphrey (UK); The canticle of the rose 1966

Simpson, Robert (UK); Tempi 1988

Stockmeier, Wolfgang (Germany); Gloria 1978

Sweeney, Eric (Ireland); Gloria 1973; Memorials 1993

Tanev, Alexande (Bulgaria)r; Guslar mí gusli 1978

Tavener, John (UK); Eonía 1990

Thomas, Adrian (UK); Man mai longe lives weene 1988

Tucapsky, Antonín (Czechoslovakia); Veni Sancte Spiritus 1986

Victory, Gerard (Ireland); Quartetto 1966; Trois chansons de Verlaine 1978; A musical instrument 1993

Viñao, Ezequiel (Argentina); Beowulf: Scyld’s Burial 2009

Vlad, Roman (Italy); Lettura di Michelangelo 1966; Lettura di Lorenzo il Magnifico 1974

Vogt, Hans (Germany); Soldiers 1972

Walton, William (UK); Cantico de sole 1974

Warren, Raymond (UK); There is a time 1970

Wellesz, Egon (Austria); Laus nocturna 1963

Williamson, Malcolm (UK); Sonnet 1969

Wilson, Ian (Ireland); bluebrighteyes 2000; Slouching Towards Bethlehem 2015

Wilson, James (Ireland); Xanadu 1971; Keats on Keats 1993

Zimmermann, Heinz (Germany); Make a joyful noise 1965

Zuk, Patrick (Ireland); An das Angesicht des Herrn Jesu 1998

 

* Denotes Winner of Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition