ICC10, Day 2 – review

The first half of Day 2 offers up much of the same, with the first two concerts’ performers slightly outshining the work. Special mention should go to the burgeoning bundle of talent that is Máire Carroll, who delivered an intrepid display of technique.

The festival’s final two concerts were met with much expectation. The penultimate, Ergodos’ I Call to You, is the brainchild of the dauphins of the Irish new music scene, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and Garrett Sholdice, perhaps the ICC’s greatest success story of the past ten years.

In his introduction, Sebastian Adams promises a “world-class production”, and that is undoubtedly what we get. Effectively an extended reworking of JS Bach’s organ chorale prelude Ich ruf zu dirr, Herr Jesu Christ, the piece was “conceived in the darker moments of Ireland’s financial crisis”. Atmosphere and dramaturgy are given precedence, with pregnant pauses aplenty. Whether this makes for a vital new music is debateable. Its appeal as a work “that underlines a sense of hope and renewal” is evident. Surely, however, this same sense can be found in the original text’s pleading with Jesus to “hear my cries” and Bach’s contrapuntal melding of sorrow and beauty? The original also underlines such hope, ending as it does on a Picardy third (the practise of finishing a minor key piece with the major version of the tonic or home chord).

The final concert presents the Dublin Laptop Orchestra, as equally well-regarded as Ergodos, having worked with Crash Ensemble and the RTÉ NSO and in the RHA and IMMA. Moreover, the DLO began its life with an ICC concert, becoming perhaps its most successful ally. Their show begins with all five members hunched over their laptops, sitting on the ground, facing the audience, noodling around in a collective improv piece that veers between ambient sounds and noise — the DLO’s general soundscape. The brightness and hues emanating from the group’s laptop screens are manipulated to great effect throughout.

It is in the ensuing the moment seizes you… by Stephen Kavanagh (this reviewer’s festival highlight), …neither here nor there by Daniel Reid, and the DLO’s own Long Distance that it becomes evident why they have been chosen to close the festival. Members pull retractable cables from their Gametrak hardware and dance (both gracefully and not so); one laptop’s inbuilt camera motion sensor is seemingly utilised in an incredibly moving, beguiling display. The very lacunae that technology both creates and enhances are invested with a poeticism and profundity, creating a psychic link between viewer and performer, passivity and activity, anomie and intimacy, the febrility of the imagination technology can augment, and the fantastical. It’s definitely not classical music — it’s probably not music at all, really — but it does deal in immanent critique and the artwork as a social monad, leaving behind an audience the better for having been there.

For more ICC10, check out our coverage of Day 1.

Find out more about the Irish Composers Collective on their website. On December 18, the Irish Composers Collective will present seven new works written for double-bass performed by Malachy Robinson in the National Concert Hall. Tickets €10 (concession €5).

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