Happening largely at the rather splendid Rossborough House over a long May weekend, this year’s Wicklow Festival boasts a particularly impressive line-up.
Among those flying in from all over the world for the festival’s third outing are the likes of BBC Cardiff Singer Of The World finalist Lauren Fagan, as well as acclaimed American violinist Elena Urioste and prominent French ensemble Trio Atanassov.
Keeping the home fires burning in this United Colors of Classical Cool is celebrated Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey. Who just also happens to the festival’s Founder & Artistic Director. Take that, Jools Holland!
Taking place from Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th in May, here’s the official lowdown…
Having doubled in size last year, the Festival has once again expanded its programme and this year will feature 15 incredible artists over 5 days. The 2019 programme features performances from BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Finalist Lauren Fagan, internationally acclaimed American violinist Elena Urioste with pianist Tom Poster, renowned string quartet Quatuor Voce, prominent French ensemble Trio Atanassov, the dynamic Duo Játékok and the Festival’s Founder & Artistic Director, celebrated Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey.
This year’s programme marks two very important events – namely the 200th Anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth and the centenary of the outbreak of the Irish War of Independence. We join in celebrating the music of Clara Schumann this year as well as music by other female composers and we have commissioned two new works in memory of the Irish War of Independence. I look forward to welcoming everyone to the stunning Russborough House in May to enjoy this fantastic programme in a uniquely intimate setting!” – Fiachra Garvey, Founder & Artistic Director
West Wicklow Festival marks the 200th Birthday of perhaps the world’s most significant female composer, Clara Schumann, by presenting some of her finest works alongside those of other influential Irish and international female composers, including Amy Beach, Lili Boulanger, Rhona Clarke, Rhoda Coghill and Joan Trimble. The Festival opens with a solo recital by its Founder & Artistic Director, Fiachra Garvey who will perform Clara Schumann’s celebrated Variations alongside Irish composer Rhoda Coghill’s Gaelic Phantasy. American violinist Elena Urioste also pairs Clara Schumann’s Three Romances with Amy Beach’s Three Pieces. Other featured works from female composers include Lili Boulanger’s D’un Matin de Printemps, Rhona Clarke’s Edge and the lesser known Irish composer Joan Trimble’s Sonatina, performed by French piano duo, Duo Játékok.
2019 also marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Irish War of Independence and in commemoration of this event, West Wicklow Festival has commissioned two new pieces of music. The first of these new compositions is by prominent Irish composer Sam Perkin. Composing for piano and tape, Sam Perkin’s new work is entitled “For Piano and Gun Sounds” and will feature a pre-recorded tape part consisting entirely of the sounds of weapons. In the composers’ own words, “the piano synchronises with them, creating a very moving, meaningful, and clear message”. As a pacifist, Sam was initially apprehensive about the proposed subject matter, but saw this method as “a way of tackling the difficult subject of non-violence head on.” This poignant new piece will receive its world premiere on the opening night of the Festival and will be performed by Fiachra Garvey as part of his own solo recital on Wednesday 15th May in the stunning surroundings of Russborough House.
The other new commission has been written for soprano and piano by young British composer Lilly Vadaneaux. Although aged only 17, Vadaneaux has won numerous prizes for her compositions which have been performed by artists including The Gesualdo Six and baroque ensemble Florilegium at events such as the Bath International Festival. This new piece takes inspiration from W.B. Yeats’ poem Cloths of Heaven and will be performed for the first time by Lauren Fagan (soprano), and accompanied Fiachra Garvey, on Sunday 19th May at St. Mary’s Church, Blessington.
Last year, West Wicklow Festival teamed up with the National Concert Hall’s Learning & Participation team to deliver an interactive Family Concert as well as an innovative programme of musical activities for children and families which transformed Russborough’s intricate hedge-maze and mystical Lady’s Island into interactive musical playgrounds. This year, the Festival presents another fun-filled family day on Saturday 18th May from 11am – 2pm.
Children and their adults are invited to discover the mystical world of Whistleberry Forest through an interactive musical adventure. Led by renowned Irish traditional group Ceol Connected, this was a huge hit in 2018 and will no doubt be very popular again this year! The creatures of Whistleberry Forest have discovered a little tree growing deep in the woods. However, there are no birds singing, no leaves rustling, and no animals scurrying around its trunk. This delightful musical trail takes children and accompanying adults on an adventure through the forest where they explore musical soundscapes, sing, dance, and help Ornaith the owl, Sorley the snail, and Faolán the frog bring the little tree to life through music.
Russborough’s intricate hedge maze will also be transformed into an interactive musical playground where children and their accompanying adults collect clues within the maze, finding musical mysteries and musicians around every corner on their quest to find the centre! Finally, there will also be a series of instrument demonstrations and workshops in Russborough House itself with micro-concerts at the end of every session.
Founded in 2017 by award-winning Wicklow pianist Fiachra Garvey, the West Wicklow Festival was established in order to promote the beautiful area of West Wicklow by staging an annual festival featuring some of the world’s premiere artists, with a healthy Irish offering. The inaugural West Wicklow Festival featured 3 sold out concerts in the stunning Russborough House, one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in Ireland and the second edition in 2018 successfully doubled in size with twice as many concerts, a Family Concert and an innovative Music Trail. Guests are invited to enjoy the intricate beauty of Russborough House in addition to experiencing some of the world’s finest musicians in a beautiful, intimate and awe-inspiring setting.
You can find further information about the West Wicklow Festival and book your tickets right about here.