Music Current | 8 – 11 Nov 2021

MUSIC CURRENT is Back! Dublin’s annual new music festival returns with six concerts in four days, featuring the best in new Irish and international contemporary electronic music. Exciting, unpredictable, multi-media music performances, with video, interactive technologies, surround sound, guns, buckets, movies, singing in the dark, videos, audience writing scores via browsers, and old fashioned music concerts.

MUSIC CURRENT, now in its fifth year, gives a platform for the newest contemporary electronic music. This year’s festival has a decidedly multi-media flavour, featuring: Zubin Kanga performing Alexander Schubert’s piano masterwork WIKI-PIANO.NET, a composition which audience members can alter or extend using their browser; Michael Finnissy’s and Adam de la Cour’s mixed-media meditation on Beethoven, “Hammerklavier” (Part 2); Lina Andonovska performs Brigitta Muntendorf’s “Public Privacy #1 (flute cover)”, a study on the schizophrenic relationship between at-home YouTuber soloists and their very public performances; and two Irish premieres of Nicole Lizée’s film-based studies, “Scorsese Etudes” and “Tarantino Etudes”.

The festival also sees the Irish debut of renowned London-based iconoclasts, Bastard Assignments, who bring their unique brand of collaborative composition and ensemble performance to Dublin in a programme of recent works – a true multi-media performance that can only be experienced live.

MUSIC CURRENT Festival focuses on the most recent music works, but also showcases “classic” works from the repertoire. This year Darragh Morgan, one of the most highly regarded interpreters of contemporary music, gives the Irish concert premiere of Pierre Boulez’s “Anthèmes 2”, a seminal work for solo violin and electronics, in which the computer literally “follows” Darragh’s performance to render a live accompaniment.

Every year MUSIC CURRENT invites composers from around the world to develop new works for the festival. This year we invited seven Irish composers to collaborate with five Irish soloists to prepare a concert of entirely new works based on the their year-long collaboration. The resulting programme is a thought-provoking mix of intimate, imaginative, challenging and playful new works by both next generation composers and established composers.

The festival closes with a double-bill concert of Irish and international works for flute and electronics. Australian flautist, Lina Andonovska gives a programme exclusively of Irish premiers featuring some of the most widely performed international composers of the current generation. Renowned Scottish flautist and new music champion, Richard Craig, closes the festival with a programme of recent works built around Richard Barrett’s “Vale”, mesmeric study for amplified flute.

‘Where we are at musically these days in terms of technology’
Liam Cagney, Musical Criticism

‘One of the finest electroacoustic ensembles on the island at present, The Dublin Sound Lab.’
Bernard Clarke, Nova, Lyric FM

‘Dublin Sound Lab has been… …flying the flag in Ireland over the past decade for European modernism.’
Liam Cagney, Journal of Music

‘Dublin Sound Lab is doing an important job for those in Ireland who remain passionate about music in the post-war avant-garde lineage and who rarely get the opportunity to hear such ‘difficult’ music performed.’
Liam Cagney, Journal of Music


8 Nov | 8pm | Main Space
Running time 60 mins | Tickets €15 / €10 student/OAP/unwaged

Australian pianist and new music adventurer Zubin Kanga performs in Dublin for the first time. A champion of collaboration and new music commissioning, Zubin performs a highly personal programme entirely of works he personally commissioned for piano and electronics.

In this concert, Zubin Kanga performs piano and multimedia works exploring internet culture, classic cinema, historical pianists, magnetic resonators and electronic doppelgängers.

Alexander Schubert’s WIKI-PIANO.NET uses a website to allow the audience to co-compose the work especially for each performance – the audience can link to sound files, youtube videos, change text and instructions, just like a Wikipedia page, creating a work that reflects the memes and internet obsessions at the time of each performance.

Fergal Dowling pairs the piano with an interactive electronic twin, increasing in complexity until the divisions between real and fake break down.

Scott McLaughlin uses modified e-bows and magnetic resonators to create strange, gradually morphing otherworldly sounds.

Hammerklavier, a collaboration between composer Michael Finnissy and filmmaker Adam de la Cour is based on Finnissy’s memories of a live performance by the great pianist Sviatoslav Richter in 1975, as well as Richter’s secretive queer life. The work transforms each movement of Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ sonata, with de la Cour’s film drawing on documentary footage of Richter, experimental film techniques of the 50s and 60s, as well as vintage gay erotica from this era. Part 2 of the work (transforming the first two movements of Beethoven’s sonata) receives its World Premiere in this concert.

And Nicole Lizée’s celebrated Criterion Collection works use loops and glitches to transform key scenes, creating obsessive homages to great filmmakers. This recital features the revised version of her set focused on the films of Martin Scorsese, drawing on iconic scenes from Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and The Wolf of Wall Street.

This programme contains depictions of nudity, violence and drug-taking.

Alexander Schubert, “WIKI-PIANO.NET” (2018) Irish Premiere
Fergal Dowling, “Fake Piano”* (2021) World Premiere
Scott McLaughlin, “In the unknown, there is already a script for transcendence”** (2018) Irish Premiere
Michael Finnissy/Adam de la Cour, “Hammerklavier”** (Part 2) (2021) World Premiere
Nicole Lizée, “Scorsese Etudes” (2018 rev. 2021) World Premiere

* Commissioned by Zubin Kanga with the support of the Arts Council commission award.
** Commissioned with the support of Arts Council England.
Zubin Kanga’s work as composer, performer and researcher is supported by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.


9 Nov | 7pm | Main Space
Running time 60 mins | Tickets €15 / €10 student/OAP/unwaged
Buy a ticket to this concert and attend the following 8pm concert for free

A central theme of the Music Current Festival is the participation and collaboration of composers and performers in developing new work. Usually this takes place within the context of the festival, but this year these collaborations took place in a new format with composers working closely with individual instrumentalists over an extended period.

In this concert the seven composers and five soloists involved in this project reveal the results of their extended in-depth collaborations, and present seven new works exploring new instrumental resources mediated by electronic forces. Each work, although developed separately in one-to-one relationships, was also developed in a parallel process, with all composers meeting regularly to discuss and exchange ideas.

The group also met online in a series of roundtable discussions throughout 2021 with festival guest composers Alexander Schubert (who is featured in Zubin Kanga’s Wiki-Piano concert) and Brigitta Muntendorf (who is featured composer in Lina Andonovska’s Public Privacy flute concert).


Seán O’Dálaigh, new work with Marja Gaynor (for Baroque viola and electronics, 2021)
Elis Czerniak, “and the Acceptance of Death” (for bass flute, bass clarinet, cello and electronics)
Jane Deasy, new work with Ilse de Ziah (for cello and electronics, 2021)
Gráinne Mulvey, “Texts for a Civil War” with Joe O’Farrell (for bass flute and electronics, 2021)
Darragh Kelly, new work with Darragh Morgan (violin, 2021)
Paul Scully, new work with Paul Roe (clarinet and electronics, 2021)
Neil O’Connor, Frisson / Rapture with Paul Roe (for bass clarinet and Morphagene synthesizer, 2021)


9 Nov | 8pm | Main Space
Running time 60 mins | Tickets €15 / €10 student/OAP/unwaged

Darragh Morgan, one of the most highly regarded interpreters of contemporary music, will give the Irish concert premiere of Pierre Boulez’s “Anthèmes 2”, a seminal work for solo violin and electronics, in which the computer literally “follows” Darragh’s performance in real-time and renders a live accompaniment. Boulez’s masterwork is twinned with Frank Lyon’s recent commission “Spin 2” commissioned by Darragh Morgan, the work follows similar development to Anthèmes 2, having undergone revisions and addition of an electronic part.

Ever since the late 1980s, when computers became fast enough to keep up with live performance, composers have written for acoustic instruments augmented with digital electronics. Pierre Boulez is no exception. As the first director of Paris’ IRCAM research centre for electroacoustic music (from 1977 to 1992), he has greatly influenced the development of music with live electronics, and they feature in several of his works of the 1980s and after. ‘Anthèmes II’ (1997), for violin and electronics, provides a good example of his style and methods. The first thing to note is that there is no ‘Anthèmes I’, as it were. Anthèmes II is based on a solo violin work that Boulez composed in 1991 for the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition. Lasting around 9 minutes, Anthèmes is a challenging text of a performer’s skill in managing different instrumental timbres, as well as giving shape to an endlessly inventive series of runs, trills and flourishes.

Anthèmes II is still for violin. The shape of the piece is basically the same, with the same events in the same order. But with the addition of live electronics Boulez has stretched it to twice its original length.

All of the music heard on the electronic track is generated in real time; none of it is pre-recorded. More crucially, in terms of the technical innovations of the piece, all of it is cued up and synchronised by the computer, which analyses what it hears the violinist playing to ‘follow’ the score itself and trigger the right sounds or effects at the right moment. (In 1997 this was cutting edge stuff, using technology and expertise that had been built up at IRCAM over two decades.) Phrases and gestures are ornamented and elaborated, the violin is split into multiple copies of itself, or smeared into chords, or its sound is transformed into rushing wind or drops of rain. What in the original were single pizzicato plucks are splintered into many tiny points of sound; trills bloom into great reverberant spaces. It is as though the solo piece has been placed inside a hall of mirrors, each one reflecting a differently distorted version of the original.


Frank Lyons, Spin 2 (2021)
Pierre Boulez (1925-2016), Anthèmes 2 (1997)


10 Nov | 8pm | Main Space
Running time 60 mins | Tickets €15 / €10 student/OAP/unwaged

Bastard Assignments are four composer-performers Timothy Cape, Edward Henderson, Caitlin Rowley and Josh Spear – who work exploring experimental music, performativity and movement. In this programme – their first appearance in Ireland – they present four Irish premiers in a true multi-media concert.

For Bastard Assignments, music is not an abstract fixed idea, but something that happens at the point of performance. This philosophy guides their work at all stages, with the act of performance informing composition, rehearsal and collaboration. Their approach is both playful and holistic; involving movement, staging, props, lighting, story telling and space. It follows that their “music” therefore defies being captured by audio recording alone: the audience experience is the music. You don’t just listen to Bastard Assignments, you have to be there at the moment of execution.


Timothy Cape, “Sorry for the late reply” (percussion and video projection, 2021)
Edward Henderson, “Will” (four singing musicians, 2020)
Caitlin Rowley, “Quiet Songs” (solo viola and voice, and projection, 2019)
Josh Spear, “FEED” (four performers, projection and audio, 2019)


11 Nov | 6pm | Main Space
Running time 60 mins | Tickets €15 / €10 student/OAP/unwaged
Buy a ticket to this concert and attend the following 8pm concert for free

Curiosity, fearlessness and versatility carry Lina Andonovska’s artistry around the globe. Andonovska is a rare breed in the flute world; a name that you’ll discover on both the pages of Rolling Stone and the Australian Chamber Orchestra roster, she has not only cultivated partnerships with leading composers including Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy and flautist Claire Chase, but also deep community ties from Timor Leste to Tokyo’s incubator Wonder Site.

In this programme Lina presents some of the most stimulating and defiant voices in contemporary music. Together with works by Paul Méfano, and Bekah Simms, and Nicole Lizée’s ‘Tarantino Etudes’, Lina presents a varied programme that uses technology as a central feature, not as a gimmick, but to interrogate the role of technology and media and their roles in music, musical material and our relationship with media and technology.


Nicole Lizée, Tarantino Etudes (22′)
Brigitta Muntendorf, Public Privacy #1 (Flute Cover) (5′)
Paul Méfano, Traits Suspendus (6′)
Bekah Simms, Skinscape (5’)
David Fennessy, Bridge (5′)

This programme contains depictions of violence and drug-taking.


11 Nov | 8pm | Main Space
Running time 60 mins | Tickets €15 / €10 student/OAP/unwaged

Renowned Scottish flautist and new music champion, Richard Craig, closes the festival with a programme of recent works built around Richard Barrett’s “Vale”, mesmeric study for amplified flute. Richard will also premiere Seán O’Dálaigh’s intimate and searching “Landscape II” for flute; a work Seán wrote especially for Richard in response to the Music Current 2019 commission.

Richard Craig is one of the most adventurous and talented performers of contemporary flute music. His passion for new repertoire has led him to collaborate with many of the leading composers of our age as well as many of the new generation of younger composers. In this programme of very recent works, and mostly commissions and premiers, all specially written for him, Richard Craig is joined by composer/performer and computer music wizard, Gilbert Nouno in this exploration of new music from Ireland, England, France, and Argentina that engages all the technical resources of the performer, the instrument, and electronic music techniques.


José Manuel Serrano, new work (for flute and electronics) (10′) premiere-commission
Gilbert Nouno, “Four ffff” (for flute and electronics) (8′), premiere
Fergal Dowling, “Double” (for flute and electronics) (12′), Music Current Project Commission
Seán O’Dálaigh, “Landscape II” (for flute) (12′), Music Current 2019 Commission
Piaras Hoban, “Feedback”, (for flute and electronics) (15′), Music Current Project Commission
Richard Barrett, Vale, for amplified flute (13′)

Dublin Sound Lab is a contemporary music ensemble specialising in electronic and computer-mediated concert performance. As well as presenting existing works, we initiate collaborations and use computer-based techniques to explore relationships between compositional process and performance practice, and to create new and genuinely engaging concert experiences.

Formed in 2008 by composer Fergal Dowling and organist Michael Quinn, Dublin Sound Lab has worked with many leading Irish and international composers, performing works by: Ailis Ni Riain, Gérard Grisey, Salvatore Sciarrino, Kaija Saariaho, Luca Francesconi, Karlheinz Essl, Peter Ablinger, Mauricio Kagel, Wim de Ruiter, Ann Cleare, Scott McLaughlin, Barry Truax, Roderik de Man, Karen Tanaka, Jean-Claude Risset, Ed Bennett, Judith Ring, Gerald Barry, Jonathan Nangle, Jonathan Harvey, Rob Canning, Gráinne Mulvey, David Bremner, and Garth Knox amongst others.

Dublin Sound Lab has initiated collaborations with many composers and artists. In 2011 we invited Karlheinz Essl, on his first visit to Ireland, to develop new generative and interactive works for ensemble in collaboration with Dublin musicians and composers, and to perform the new works in concert. In 2013 we commissioned MIRRORS OF EARTH, a large-scale video work by Ailbhe Ní Bhriain to accompany the complete performance of Kaija Saariaho’s seminal mixed-media work, MAA. In 2014 we commissioned PLACES & RESPONSES for the Dublin Fringe Festival, a multi-venue, dispersed performance, involving collaboration with Peter Ablinger, Gráinne Mulvey, Rob Canning and Piaras Hoban.

In 2016 Dublin Sound Lab launched MUSIC CURRENT, Dublin’s annual festival of contemporary electronic music. The festival features guest composers, international performers, workshops, masterclasses, public discussions, new commission opportunities, and premiers of works by participating composers.

Dublin Sound Lab believes that contemporary music should be engaging and exciting and that the presentation and production of concerts should be as inspiring as great musical performance. We recognise that there is a new audience for contemporary art and live music performance that wants to experience music in new ways. Dublin Sound Lab wants to reach these audiences and inspire these listeners by presenting the very best and newest contemporary music from Ireland and abroad, and by creating amazing new experiences with sound and technology.