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Artists in Residence

Tonnta Music


Tonnta is a music company and vocal ensemble exploring unique and engaging ways to perform vocal music. Tonnta creates performances that are relevant and dynamic, honest and moving. Tonnta vocal ensemble and artistic director Robbie Blake regularly work with Ireland’s foremost composers, festivals and artists in developing new music and new ways for audiences to experience Ireland’s rich compositional wealth. Collaboration and interdisciplinary methods are key to this practice. Using a combination of exceptional emerging artists and established singers, Tonnta is a professional ensemble that demonstrates a vibrant, rich and energetic sound.Tonnta is supported by Smock Alley Theatre as artists-in-residence.

Ongoing Projects


13_InSight_Ena Brennan

Smock Alley Theatre plays host to four evenings of the aural and the visual, brought together. From March to July, InSight showcases 20 new musical works presented with visual interpretations, including dance, animation, projection, and simply the physical body in space. Brought to you by the Irish Composers’ Collective, Tonnta Music and Smock Alley Theatre. Check out the series programme here

Previous Projects

The Great War Signal Corps
A collaboration between composer George Higgs, choral director Robbie Blake, with Tonnta Music and the National Museum of Ireland.
A project of choral theatre to commemorate the Irish involvement in World War One. A section of the work will be written and performed in each year of the centenary, with a text created of material from the Irish Archive of 1914–1918 from letters, diaries and personal accounts.
The launch performance entitled ‘The Secret Scripture of the Poor’ took place in December 2014. This work was supported by the National Museum of Ireland, Smock Alley Theatre and the Contemporary Music Centre.

ShapeShifters’ Ball, Bram Stoker Festival – October 2014
A staged choral performance directed by Robbie Blake, as part of Ensemble Music’s curated stage.
A performance of immersive, thrilling and otherworldly vocal music in Irish Museum of Modern Art’s atmospheric Baroque Chapel.

Culture Night – September 2014
Curated by Smock Alley Theatre and Kaleidoscope Night.
As our first official performance as artists-in-residence at Smock Alley Theatre, we performed for visitors to the Theatre. We were also invited by Kaleidoscope Night to perform in The Irish Times’ Downstairs Dublin on Merrion Square.

Harp: A River Cantata – September 2014
Production by Ulysses Opera Theatre.
As part of Tiger Dublin Fringe, Tonnta lead the choir of 45 singers in Tom Lane’s Harp: A River Cantata. The performance took place on the Samuel Beckett Bridge to over 4000 spectators, marking the opening of the 2014 Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival.
Performance rehearsals for this project were kindly supported by Smock Alley Theatre 1662.

Between the Absence February – July 2014
Co-production by Tonnta and JK Company.
A dance-choral collaboration exploring the complementary means of expression of contemporary dance and choral singing. Using a transdisciplinary approach whereby singers dance and dancers sing, the piece involved 8 singers and 5 dancers. The performance included movement, vocal improvisation, as well as set choragraphy and vocal repertoire (including Jonathan Dove, Josquin des Prez, John Taverner). Seven performances were given across three festivals: Collaborations Festival, Five Lamps Arts Festival, and Cavan Theatre Festival.
Developed with support from Dublin Fringe Festival at Fringe Lab and Dance Ireland.

No Less Than the Tress and the Stars – January 2014
This was a research project under the artistic direction of choreographer Rebecca Reilly into the possibilities of interdisciplinary work with dance, vocal music and live projection. Creatives involved were projection artist Trevor Furlong, dance artists Philip Connaughton, Katherine O’Malley and Fergus Byrne, cellist Lioba Petrie, and eight singers from Tonnta Music. The immersive interdisciplinary work was shown as part of the NEW MOVEMENTS series at Dance Ireland. The project was funded by an Arts Council of Ireland Bursary and supported by Dance Ireland.

Samhain Festival – November 2013
In association with Age & Opportunity, Poetry Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland, Tonnta performed with sixteen singers in the National Museum, Kildare Street as part of an event to celebrate creativity in death and loss. The event included a performance created in collaboration with composer Elaine Agnew and singer Nóirín Ni Ríaín.

Still in Set – September 2013
Invited by artist Hannah Fitz of Basic Space, Tonnta performed a promenade piece in the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios atrium and stairwell to coincide with a sculpture exhibtion. The promenade performance was developed and devised by Robbie Blake in response to a sculpture by Hannah Fitz. The performance was created in response to the shimmering, holographic material of Fitz’s sculpture and involved multi-story harmony, dual-tonality and improvisation.


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