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Beckett Unbound
Festival Beckett Unbound

  • Thursday 6 June 2024
  • 9pm
  • 10€
  • Centre Culturel Irlandais

reservation recommended

90 mins

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This special festival concert responds to the theatre and dance programme via six contemporary works, featuring three world-première commissions and two UK / France premières.

Barry Guy Quindecim (2021) for baroque violin and double bass

Composer Barry Guy’s Quindecim for baroque violin and double bass is a response to Swiss architect and artist Max Bill’s “Fifteen Variations on a Single Theme” exploring the artist’s idea that “once the basic theme has been chosen - whether it be simple or complex - an infinite number of different developments can be evolved according to individual inclination and temperament”. The work incorporates four Beckett texts (Thither, 10 Mirlitonnades, The Downs, One Dead of Night) into its highly intricate ‘molten architecture’.


Barry Guy, SHE! (2021) for cello solo


Barry Guy’s work for solo cello and electronics ‘SHE!’ is one of two pieces in the music programme that respond to Not I / Pas moi, with the composer “struck by the musicality and rhythmic impetus of the monologue which quickly suggested an approach.” Composed for cellist Kate Ellis, the piece was commissioned by Music for Galway with funds from the Arts Council / An Comhairle Ealaíon and received its premiere in Brigid’s Garden in 2015.


Melanie Daiken When the cross (1994 / trans. G. Knox 2024) for viola solo


Composer Melanie Daiken studied in Paris under Olivier Messiaen and became Deputy Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London in the 1980’s. Her father, the radical Irish journalist Leslie Daiken, befriended Beckett after studying French under him in Trinity College Dublin. After an introduction from her father, Melanie and Sam became friends in Paris, and she used to bring him piano music from the Paris Conservatoire. She described her piece ‘When the Cross’, composed for violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved in 1994, as a chaconne. Skærved comments “it's really a full-scale operatic drama for one player and one of the substantial single-movement works for solo violin.” For the Beckett Unbound festival, violist Garth Knox performs the world première of his transcription of the work for solo viola.


Morgan Hayes Lucky's Speech (2006) for violin solo


Lucky’s Speech, by composer Morgan Hayes, was composed for violinist Darragh Morgan, for the launch of his recital CD Opera on the NMC label in June 2006. The title refers to a pivotal moment in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, when the hitherto silent character Lucky suddenly pours forth a torrential stream, reflected musically by almost breathless musical activity punctuated by pizzicato commentaries.


Kevin Volans QUAD (2023) for string quintet


Composer Kevin Volans’ Quad for string quintet begins as a transliteration of the movement sequences embedded in the geometry of Beckett’s eponymous ‘balletfor four people’. There are several modifications to the original structure to compensate for the shift from visual to audible imagery, with the second part a freer interpretation of the contrast between the two parts of its progenitor. The new work is a festival commission and will receive its world première and second performance at ‘Beckett Unbound’.


Simon Roth Mouth (2024) for percussion solo


Another festival world première, ‘Mouth’, composed and performed by percussionist Simon Roth, also responds to Not I / Pas moi. It explores the sonic semantics of actress Billie Whitelaw’s famous 1973 rendition of the work (described by Beckett himself as “miraculous”) as well as her hearing her own 'inner scream' in Mouth’s outpourings. Whitelaw said of the piece that “I found so much of my self in Not I. Somewhere in there were my entrails under a microscope.”


Maya Homburger – baroque violin
Darragh Morgan – violin
Erin Hennessey – violin
Fiona Winning – viola
Garth Knox – viola
Kate Ellis – cello
Barry Guy – double bass
Simon Roth – percussion