Cross Currents - composer Gerald Barry

Aug 22, 2016, 08:24 AM

A three part documentary radio series presented by Barry McGovern exploring contemporary Irish composers and their music. What shaped the sound of the century? Barry McGovern presents a ground breaking series.

Episode 1 - ‘BREAKTHROUGH” Premieres on Friday September 9th at 7pm RTÉ Lyric FM and features composer Gerald Barry.

'How have Irish composers dealt with their musical past and tradition? Do they challenge, react against it, embrace it or ignore it? Episode two explores how composers view the idea of tradition in Irish contemporary composition. Presenter Barry McGovern hears from Raymond Deane, Roger Doyle, Jane O’Leary and Gerard Barry on their roots, influences and how the world around them shaped the music they wrote. Barry McGovern asks what does it mean to be a composer in Ireland ?' ………………………………….

The series explores the change of direction for Irish composers during the period and looks at some of the key motivations for this change. Beginning with well known electronic music composer Roger Doyle, who produced his first LP Oizzo No in 1975 and a follow-up release,Thalia, in 1978, the programme explores Doyle’s seemingly unorthodox approach to new music and its reception in Dublin in the 1970s. Moving from Dublin to Germany, the programme focuses on the experiences there of Gerald Barry and Raymond Deane, both of whom studied in Cologne, then a hotbed of experimentalism in music and where an international community of composers converged. Also central to the changing face of new Irish music during this time was the establishment in 1976 of contemporary music ensemble, Concorde by US-born Jane O’Leary, an ensemble which continues to this day. Jane will talk about her first experiences of musical life in Ireland and will provide perspective on what it was like to be an unknown, American, female composer trying to follow her musical path in Ireland during the mid 1970s.

Go to for more information on the project. ………………………………….

Gerald Barry was born in Ireland in 1952 and after attending University College Dublin went to Amsterdam and later Cologne to continue his studies. His time in Germany, where he studied with Stockhausen and Kagel, proved to be a liberating experience and he soon came to public attention in 1979 with radical ensemble works.

Barry has received a number of commissions by the BBC, including ‘Chevaux-de-frise’ for the 1988 Proms, given its Russian première by the Mariinsky Orchestra in 2007; ‘The Conquest of Ireland’, given its German première by the Bavarian RSO in 1998; ‘Day’ for the BBC Symphony Orchestra; ‘The Eternal Recurrence’, a setting of Nietzsche for voice and orchestra; and ‘Hard D’ for the Orkest de Volharding.

Barry’s first opera ‘The Intelligence Park’ (recorded on NMC), was commissioned by the ICA and first performed at the 1990 Almeida Festival. A second opera, ‘The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit’, written for Channel 4 Television, opened the 2002 Aldeburgh Festival, followed by performances in London and the Berliner Festwochen conducted by Thomas Adés. A new staging took place in 2013 at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. ‘The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant’ was given in 2005 at English National Opera and in 2008 at the Basle Opera. ‘La Plus Forte’, a one-act opera on the Strindberg play, was commissioned by Radio France for the 2007 Festival Présences. Sung by Barbara Hannigan, it toured to Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Miami and Toronto. The RTÉ recording of ‘The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant’ has been re-released on the Discovery label.

Barry wrote ‘Wiener Blut’, ‘Dead March’ and ‘Beethoven’ for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. ‘God Save The Queen’ for choir and ensemble was commissioned for the London Sinfonietta by London's South Bank Centre on the fiftieth birthday of the Royal Festival Hall in 2001. Recent chamber works include ‘Le Vieux Sourd’ for piano, commissioned by Betty Freeman, ’Feldmans Six-Penny Editions’ f...