Tuesday 12 March 2024

Lovely Music: Louth CMS annual June celebration features operas by Robert Ashley, Stockhausen’s Stimmung, Linda Catlin Smith & more

Robert Ashley photographed by Mimi Johnson in 1975
Robert Ashley photographed by Mimi Johnson in 1975

Louth Contemporary Music Society will be presenting its annual mid-June festival, Lovely Music, in Co Louth, Ireland on 14 and 15 June 2024. The title, Lovely Music, originated as the ironic, combative title that Mimi Johnson, a New York agent, chose in 1978 for a record label she founded to feature composers she represented, including her husband, the American composer Robert Ashley (1930-2014)  and this year, the festival will be featuring two of Ashby's operas. 

Crash is Ashley's final work, an opera for six singers but as Ashley explained, "All of the singing is very soft vocally, but amplified, and all of the singing of the words is very fast. This is a special kind of vocal sound that the audience will have rarely experienced.Crash is being presented by Varispeed Collective and they join forces with Irish colleagues at the Spirit Store: Sean Carpio, Caoimhe Hopkinson and Steve Welsh for Ashley's The Bar.

Also in the festival is Dirt Road by Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith, performed by violinist Larissa O’Grady and the percussionist Caitríona Frost. Catlin Smith describes the work thus, "I imagined the two instruments as two travellers, moving along a simple landscape, with all of its slight or grand changes."

Hamza El Din (1929-2006) was Egyptian oud player and composer who moved to California in the early sixties and had a powerful effect on U.S. musicians from the Grateful Dead to Steve Reich. His Escalay (The Waterwheel) will be performed by three exponents of Irish traditional music, Dónal Lunny, Zoë Conway and Inni-k.

The festival ends with a very different approach to music for six voices, as New Vocal Soloists of Stuttgart perform Karlheinz Stockhausen’s exuberant  1968 work Stimmung.

Full details from Louth Contemporary Music Society's website.

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