The Book of Hours

The original Book of Hours was a collection of prayers and private devotions, the lay person’s way of following the Divine Office of the monasteries. Most often associated with wealthy Roman Catholics in the Middle Ages, Books of Hours were remarkably varied. Kings and queens owned personally commissioned sets, illuminated in gold leaf, while paper versions were sold to merchants, and gifted to housewives, and children. Collections would be annotated, amended, handed down to generation after generation.

No two Books of Hours were alike, but the function remained the same: to illuminate the day with moments of the divine.

Over two days in June, Louth Contemporary Music Society aims to do just that with its own Book of Hours, a music festival devoted to beautiful, profound music by contemporary composers from across the globe.

As well as new works from Salvatore Sciarrino (Italy) Gérard Pesson (France), and Michael Pisaro (USA), the festival will also spotlight contemporary female composers, including new works from Karen Tanaka (Japan), Linda Buckley (Ireland), Galina Grigorjeva (Estonia/Ukraine) and Rebecca Saunders (UK/Germany), with Tanaka and Pisaro traveling to Ireland for the first time to hear their music performed.

A truly international music festival, it will feature five concerts over the two days including Arvo Pärt’s sublime Stabat Mater, Gavin Bryars’ iconic and deeply moving Jesus blood never failed me yet, plus Linda Buckley’s hauntingly beautiful work Revelavit, Wolfgang Von Schweinitz’s KLANG… and selections from the works of Hildegard Von Bingen.

The festival opens on Friday with the presentation of the prestigious Belmont Prize for Contemporary Music by Gabriele Forberg-Schneider of the Forberg-Schneider-Stiftung to Eamonn Quinn, Artistic Director of Louth Contemporary Music Society.  The Belmont Prize honours ‘innovation, daring, and courage’ in music and is awarded every two years. It is one of Europe’s largest artistic awards, with a prize of €20,000. Previous winners include composer and clarinetist Jörg Widmann, pianist Marino Formenti, New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, and violinist Carolin Widmann.

Friday 22 June 2018
Belmont Prize Ceremony

7.30pm, The Oriel Centre at Dundalk Gaol

Presentation of the prestigious Belmont Prize for Contemporary Music by Gabriele Forberg-Schneider of the Forberg-Schneider-Stiftung to Eamonn Quinn, Artistic Director of Louth Contemporary Music Society. 

Night Prayer I
8pm, The Oriel Centre at Dundalk Gaol

Gothic Voices will perform a programme of mediaeval and contemporary works in the intimate setting of Dundalk Gaol. Karen Tanaka, Linda Buckley and Michael Pisaro have written new works to mark the occasion. The programme will open with the numinous beauty of Linda Buckley’s Revelavit.
Tickets €10 available from

Saturday 23 June

Morning Prayer
1pm, The Chapel, St. Vincent’s School, Jocelyn St Dundalk

The Flemish string trio Goeyvaerts Trio will play a beautiful programme of Wolfgang von Schweinitz’s hallucinatory work for string trio and ring modulator, KLANG auf Schön Berg La Monte Young in Just Intonation tuning. This promises to be a magical transportive concert in a beautiful resonant setting.
Tickets Free but attendees are asked to register

Daytime Prayer

3pm in Dundalk Gaol
The incredibly talented and internationally lauded composer Rebecca Saunders comes to Louth for the first time for a specially curated performance of her music including the world premiere of her James Joyce inspired work, O, Yes & I. The performers include Carol Robinson, Juliet Fraser, Helen Bledsoe and Séverine Ballon

Tickets Free but attendees are asked to register

Evening Prayer

5pm in St.Nicholas Church of Ireland, Dundalk
This concert features the world premiere of a new work Cresce veloce un cristallo by Salvatore Sciarrino for solo flute, performed by the incredible Matteo Cesari, one of Sciarrino’s closest collaborators. Additionally the programme will feature the piano music of Gérard Pesson, performed by Pascale Berthelot including the world premiere of Pesson’s work for piano Sur ce que j’ai fait cette musique dans une grande lenteur & mélancolie. Both new works have been funded by the Arts Council.

Tickets Free but attendees are asked to register

Kate Molleson will interview a number of the composers at 7pm in the side chapel of St. Nicholas Church of Ireland.
Kate Molleson is a music journalist for The Guardian and The Herald and a presenter for BBC Radio 3.

Night Prayers II
8pm in St.Nicholas Church of Ireland Dundalk

Saturday’s evening concert ends the festival with Arvo Pärt’s 1985 work, Stabat Mater, performed here in Just Intonation tuning by the Goeyvaerts Ensemble, adding new shining depths to this spare, devotional masterpiece. Additionally the Ensemble will also perform a new LCMS commission, Chant, from Galina Grigorjeva. The concert opens with Karen Tanaka’s soulful Song of Songs. A version of Gavin Bryars’ haunting, ethereal Jesus Blood, the UK composer leading a festival ensemble — including young musicians from Music Generation Louth — in a perfect end to the festival.

Tickets €10 available from


Funded by the Arts Council, Create Louth, Forberg-Schneider-Stiftung and Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation