Going International – Old But New

Just over 50 years ago committed music lover David Laing staged the first concert in a series, Music in Great Irish Houses, in Kildare’s Castletown House and Carton House. It was an ambitious undertaking which brought to Ireland international soloists and ensembles such as the renowned Amadeus Quartet, guitarist John Williams and the multi-talented Tortelier family. This gave birth to Ireland’s now oldest chamber music festival which since then has been held annually in historic houses and buildings around the country with the double benefit of allowing chamber music aficionados access to historic houses and, as icing on the cake, bringing top class musicians within the reach of these eager audiences.

Famous names that have graced the salons of some of Ireland’s historic houses over 50 years include pianists Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Labèque sisters, Angela Hewitt, Krystian Zimerman and Richard Goode. Renowned vocalists Janet Baker, Elizabeth Söderström, Frederica Von Stade, Patricia Bardon and Ute Lemper have also appeared. Other featured stars include Nigel Kennedy, Kyung-Wha Chung, Mischa Maisky, Pinchas Zukerman, Stephen Isserlis, Michael Collins and Guy Johnston. More recent visitors to this ever-developing summer attraction have been the Belcea, Casals, Doric, Heath, Pavel Haas and Ébène Quartets.

Irish artists have always been prominent at the Festival, and it has afforded younger Irish musicians aiming for international careers an important platform.

Inevitably the Festival has grown and evolved. In 2012 the original title was subtly altered to Great Music in Irish Houses allowing for a more diverse platform. New artistic strands have also been added along the way; ‘Support Act’, a series of masterclasses and workshops for young musicians by visiting performers, and the Dublin Musical Saunter, a day-long trail of themed concerts in various locations around Dublin City. The Festival is not entirely a stay-at-home event either, having already travelled to Paris and Brighton. In recent seasons it has also commissioned new music from Irish and international composers.

So much for the history: It is time to look to the future. 2020 marked the golden anniversary of the Festival and, to paraphrase Muiris Ó Suilleabháin’s timeless memoir Fiche Bliain ag Fás, we have been 50 years agrowing. The Festival’s international reputation for creative programming, the espousal of international artists and promotion of Irish musicians, allied to the fact that the majority of its venues are now in and around the capital city, presents a strong case for rebranding. We are proud to say that as we head into our second half century, the Festival takes on a new and significant nomenclature, from now on to be known as the Dublin International Chamber Music Festival.

The Dublin International Chamber Music Festival 2021 offers a splendid banquet of tantalising musical styles and compositions in an unusual two-tiered layout for our online audiences.

To start with we have a colourful postbag from London, Paris, Berlin, Scotland’s Perth and Ireland; ‘Musical Postcards’ from musicians who can’t be with us in person sharing their favourite musical moments. These will stream during the day, and will be free to view.

The second tier is a series of five concert performances featuring an array of artists including the Carducci Quartet and tenor, Robert Tritschler, pianist, Finghin Collins, soprano, Elizabeth Hilliard, cellist William Butt and an electric collaboration with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and guitarist, Sean Shibe

Founder
David Laing

President
Frank Casey

Directors
Linda O’Shea Farren (Chair)
Gráinne Boushel
Frank Casey
Martin Davidson
Sheila de Courcy
John Keogan
John Reynolds

Artistic Director
Ciara Higgins

Executive Director
Laurie Cearr

Festival Marketing and Office Administrator
Beccy Kennedy

Production
Gavin O’Sullivan

Publicity
Mary Folan