Book of Hours review – tender minimalism to restless bravura
Various venues, Dundalk
The highlight of Louth Contemporary Music Society’s varied programme was Gavin Bryars’ Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, which brought a tear to the eye
Elsewhere there was the dilated beauty of Wolfgang von Schweinitz’s KLANG auf Schön Berg La Monte Young; the fragile, forcible sound play of a new flute piece by Sciarrino; a joyous piano miniature by Gérard Pesson. True to form, the festival ended with the most unexpectedly disarming blow of all: Gavin Bryars’ seminal 1971 tape work Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet – familiar to the point of innocuousness, you might think, but with 40 local schoolkids singing and playing along, Bryars himself joining in on bass and an audience packed with nuns and mums, the experience reduced me to tears. Read more here
The Irish Times
Louth and clear: a maverick’s musical adventures in Dundalk
Louth Contemporary Music Society’s Book of Hours Festival was unfailingly adventurous
The Forberg-Schneider-Stiftung’s 2018 Belmont Prize award ceremony took place before the Louth Contemporary Music Society’s Book of Hours Festival in Dundalk on Friday.
The beneficiary was the society’s founder, Eamonn Quinn, who was described in the Forberg-Schneider-Stiftung’s press release variously as a “self-taught maverick”, “a sophisticated explorer and communicator with a burning passion for contemporary music” and as having “passion, lucidity and the curiosity of an astonished child”.
What’s interesting about his curiosity in the world of new music is his lack of ideology. He does not appear to be interested in any style or trend for its own sake. He has, for instance, featured Crash Ensemble with its rock-like commitment to amplification, and he has also presented music that hovers on the cusp of audibility in ways that can make you wonder if you’re genuinely hearing an instrument or voice or just imagining the sounds that you’re concentrating on.
The society offers an adventure for the musical palette. Attendance involves an act of faith in Quinn’s programming choices, which mostly consist of pieces that have not been heard in Ireland before and often of works that are being performed for the first time. Read the complete review here
The Journal of Music
Together Never Fails
I was astonished to find myself moved almost to tears during the performance. For me, this work has always been a little too sentimental. But something about the singer’s lonely, melancholy, defiant voice, about the sweet chords coming to support it, about musicians old and young, professional and amateur, English, Irish, American, and more playing in harmony; the act of simple togetherness was profoundly affecting.Togetherness is fragile, broken by a simple disagreement. But it is important, and it was woven throughout the festival: in disparate works and in venues Catholic, Protestant, and secular; in composers listening to each other speak and in performers surrounded by their audience. The speeches at the Belmont prize-giving ceremony were of borders and boundaries. The Book of Hours gave us a moment without them. Read more here