On January 29 and 30, the Cape Symphony takes you on a trip to that wonderful island in the North Atlantic: Ireland, home of extraordinary literature, dance, and of course, music.
You may associate Irish music with the folk traditions and pub songs we all know well. Yet classical music in Ireland dates back to the early 15th century in Dublin, and Handel’s Messiah had its world premiere at the Great Music Hall in April 1742, with the choirs from St. Patrick’s and Christ Church cathedrals, attended by 700 people. Ireland has a long tradition of classical composers, including some we’ll feature in our Passport concert.
Sir Hamilton Harty, for example, began his career as an organist, and became a well-known conductor, leading the London Symphony Orchestra for two years in the 1930s. His compositions include The Irish Symphony, which he conducted for the first time in 1904 in Dublin. The Times of London called the piece "a work of much promise ... received with enthusiasm. It has many ideas, always freshly expressed, and the airs are developed with more than common variety and beauty." Harty’s works continue to be performed and recorded in the 21st century.
Another well-known Irish composer is Seóirse Bodley. Bodley studied music and composition at University College Dublin, where he would later be an assistant professor, as well as in London and in Germany. Bodley’s Symphony No. 2: I Have Loved the Lands of Ireland (1980) was written during a period when he explored traditional Irish music, and its movements portray various aspects of Irish history and culture. Bodley was the first composer to become a Saoi of Aosdána, a state-supported association of Irish creative artists. Saoi is the highest honor bestowed by Aosdána, and there are most seven living Saoithe at any time. When the President of Ireland presented the honor to Bodley in 2008, she said that he "has helped us to recast what it means to be an artist in Ireland.”