Bernie Sherlock , Contemporary Irish choral music and an outline of its historical origins (DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2018)

These details defined Thu Dec 3 15:43:00 2020, last updated Thu Dec 10 14:39:51 2020  edit
 Author:  Sherlock , Bernie  
 Title:  Contemporary Irish choral music and an outline of its historical origins 
 Degree, institution:  DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2018 
 Volumes, pp.:  2 vols  
 Supervisor(s):  Denise Neary  
 Repository:  Royal Irish Academy of Music Library . 
 General specialism:  Musicology: Performance Studies  
 Content, key terms:  Persons:
Genres, instruments: 
Eoghan Desmond; Ben Hanlon; Gerald Barry; Mark Armstrong; Rhona Clarke; Michael Holohan; Michael McGlynn; Sean Doherty;
Choral Music

This thesis examines the unfamiliar new reality of Irish choral music. It is in a better state of health now in the early twenty-first century than at any point in its long and difficult history. Irish choral music today is increasing in quality, standing and output, driven by a generation of confident, talented and successful Irish composers. The purpose of this thesis, then, is to sample a cross-section of this generation. Eight diverse, contemporary a cappella pieces are critically investigated in order to demonstrate Irish choral music’s exciting new position.

This position is relative, however. Ireland continues to lag well behind other European countries such as Belgium, Britain, Hungary, Germany, Finland, and the Baltic states, all of which boast music publishers generating significant quantities of good, new choral music every year. The current position of Ireland’s choral music is also relative to its challenging history. This thesis outlines that history, identifying the earliest, pre-Christian record of the existence of music in general and of collective singing in particular. It continues with the arrival of Christianity and into monastic times, with chant and the evolution of music notation and polyphony, and from there to the Anglo-Irish ‘golden age’ in eighteenth-century Dublin, noting how this came at the expense of native musical development. The nineteenth century saw the end of the ‘golden age’. In what appeared as a crippling blow to choral music’s narrow and Protestant foothold in Ireland, there was a departure of Dublin’s Anglo-Irish to London. Yet it was this absence that finally allowed a wider Irish choral music to take root, in association with the growth and interest of an emerging Catholic middle class.

This growth then continues into the twentieth century, through the revolutionary period and two world wars. There was not much composing of original music for choirs. Rather, this growth is evident in the commitment to choral singing of various institutions, including important new ones. It is not until the postwar twentieth century that the long-awaited beginnings of an original and now thriving Irish choral music take root.