James Joyce, a graduate of University College Dublin, is considered one of
the fathers of modern literature for his creative brilliance. Joyce was also an accomplished tenor, having won a bronze medal for solo singing in 1904 at the Dublin Feis Ceoil competition. According to a review of the competition in the Irish Daily Independent on 17 May 1904, ‘Mr. Joyce showed himself possessed of the finest quality voice of any of those competing’.
Joyce wrote a letter to his brother expressing the hope that his collection, Chamber Music (1907) would one day be set to music: ‘The book is in fact a suite of songs and if I were a musician I suppose I should have set them to music myself’. Joyce also expressed the hope to his brother that ‘someone will do so, someone that knows old English music, as I like’, and as a singer, perhaps he even had a choral ensemble in mind.
To mark the twentieth season of Choral Scholars in 2018-2019, the Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds set the Joyce poem My Love is in a Light Attire for choir and violoncello, funded by matched-funding donations provided by private supporters of the choir and the university. Esenvalds often divides his choir into multiple parts allowing for deliciously rich textures that almost overwhelm the audience. In setting poem VII from ‘Chamber Music’ he chooses a less complex approach which allows him to reflects the innocence of the imagery presented by Joyce: ‘My love goes slowly, bending to/Her shadow on the grass.’ The result is essentially a love-song filled with nostalgic longing.
To celebrate the unique connection that University College Dublin has with James Joyce, the Artistic Director of Choral Scholars, Desmond Earley, wishes to curate and commission the setting for choir of the entire collection of thirty-six poems comprising Chamber Music, each by a different composer from around the world.
If you share our passion for excellence and wish to be part of our journey through the poetry of James Joyce, and bring new choral music to life, contact Desmond Earley, Artistic Director at email@example.com
Dear Friends and Music Lovers,
It is with great joy that I welcome you to this special concert of new music composed to honour the poetry of Ireland’s most famous literary figure – and alumnus of University College Dublin – James Joyce. I wish to acknowledge the collaboration of UCD Foundation in connecting our student-singers with our many friends that make up this very special audience tonight.
Exciting news! The music you will hear this evening is part of a groundbreaking commission project to realise a dream long-held by James Joyce: to have his own 36 poems published as Chamber Music (1907) set to music. In February this year we recorded 12 of the 18 works composed to date in this commission project. We look forward to bringing the second phase of this project to recording sessions in 2024: to do this we are seeking financial support to help us commission the remaining compositions and record them. To learn more, join us on this exciting journey, and support this important project, please talk to me after the concert or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
As ambassadors for University College Dublin, the Choral Scholars ensemble continues to bring the best of Ireland and its distinct culture to the world from Belfield to Carnegie Hall. Creative collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Participating in this very special Spring Concert, we are thrilled that Choral Scholars is joined by the Solstice Ensemble, some of our alumni, and guest singers.
This evening’s programme is a celebration of James Joyce’s poetry, and was created to give you the first experience of listening to these new works. We hope you find yourself lost in the beauty of these new pieces.
It is wonderful to be with you, and we are grateful that you are here.
Thank you for your support!
Thank you for joining us
Founding Artistic Director
Choral Scholars of University College Dublin
From dewy dreams my soul, arise
James Joyce, Matthew Emery
Now, O Now
James Joyce, Laura Sheils
Gur e mo Ghille Dubh-dhonn
Trad. Scottish, Arr. Desmond Earley
Silently she’s combing, combing her long hair
James Joyce, Desmond Earley
James Joyce, Jocelyn Hagen
Selection from Three Gaelic Songs
Arr. R. Vaughan Williams
My Love is in a light attire
James Joyce, Ēriks Ešenvalds
My dove, my beautiful one
James Joyce, Seán Doherty
Megan O’Neill, Arr. Desmond Earley
Isabelle Kerins Brett
Kiri O’Neill *
Charlotte O’Hare §
Declan Wildes *
§ denotes guest
* denotes alumnus/alumna
Eunan McDonald §
Will Gaunt §
Hugh Murray | violin
Martin Johnson | violoncello
Seamus Doyle | contrabass
Geraldine O’Doherty | harp
Seamus Wylie | clarinets
Kenneth Edge | saxophone
Clíona Warren | bassoon
Cormac Ó hAodáin | horn
Kevin Whyms | guitar
James Joyce wrote a letter to his brother expressing the hope that his collection, Chamber Music (1907) would one day be set to music: ‘The book is in fact a suite of songs and if I were a musician I suppose I should have set them to music myself’. Joyce also expressed the hope to his brother that ‘someone will do so, someone that knows old English music, as I like’, and as a singer, perhaps he even had a choral ensemble in mind.
In celebration of the unique connection that University College Dublin has with James Joyce, the Artistic Director of Choral Scholars, Desmond Earley, has begun a journey in recording commissioned works of the Joyce poems set to music by an incredibly talented pool of composers such as Natasha Paulberg, Jocelyn Hagen, Seán Doherty, Tim Stephens and many more. To date, we have recorded 12 of the 36 poems from Chamber Music. Our February 2023 recording sessions marked the start of this exciting journey.
This really would not have been possible without the support from our generous donors. If you would like to discuss how you can help us continue on this journey, please email email@example.com
UCD Foundation Director's Welcome
On behalf of my colleagues in UCD Foundation, I am delighted to welcome you to this evening’s special performance by UCD Choral Scholars. The extended period of restrictions due to COVID-19 impacted our work and our ability to host events like this. This evening, we want to thank you all for sticking with us through a challenging time – your engagement and generous support in turbulent times has meant so much to us. We are overjoyed to be able
to come together again.
The Choral Scholars are a wonderful example of philanthropy in action. Thanks to generous donor support–including from some of our guests this evening–these talented students have the opportunity to develop their exceptional musical talents alongside their studies through an inspiring programme of artistic activities. We hope that you enjoy their performance.
Director of Development,
O, it was out by Donnycarney
When the bat flew from tree to tree
My love and I did walk together;
And sweet were the words she said to me.
Along with us the summer wind Went murmuring—O, happily!—
But softer than the breath of summer Was the kiss she gave to me.