The City of Derry International Choir Festival is planning its ninth edition for this autumn, due to take place from 20 – 24 October 2021, and has announced the selected composer for a brand new choral work celebrating the life and legacy of Colmcille.
Award-winning Irish composer Eoghan Desmond, originally from Cork, is a member of Chamber Choir Ireland, and a Lay Vicar Choral in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. He holds a PhD in Composition of Sacred Choral Music from the University of Aberdeen and his music has been performed all over Ireland. Eoghan’s music draws on his vast experience as a choral singer and professional bass-baritone to write music that showcases a deep understanding of the voice and its capabilities. He has composed choral works for many acclaimed ensembles including The Sixteen, Sestina and Chamber Choir Ireland.
The commission is part of the Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council year-long celebratory programme of events marking the 1500th anniversary of the birth of Colmcille, and has been commissioned in partnership with the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland. The work will be written for choir and solo cello and is due to be premiered at this year’s choir festival by award-winning chamber choir Codetta and Derry cellist Kim Vaughan in the beautiful setting of St Columba’s Church, Longtower.
Evonne Ferguson, Director of CMC, commented, “The Contemporary Music Centre is delighted to support the City of Derry International Choir Festival in the development of a new work for choir and cello, and warmly congratulates Eoghan Desmond on being awarded the Colmcille 1500 commission. This new work will be an important addition to the canon of choral music from Ireland, reflecting Colmcille’s local and international legacy. CMC looks forward to the premiere of this new work in Derry in October 2021, and to continuing our ongoing partnership with the festival through the CMC award for the best performance of a choral work by a composer from Ireland, and with a CMC podcast special.”
Dónal Doherty, Artistic Director of the Festival, said, “We’ve commissioned a number of new choral works for this year’s festival and we’re particularly delighted to announce the selection of Eoghan Desmond as the composer of a work celebrating the life and writings of Colmcille. I’m confident that the premiere performance will be a significant moment in this year’s Choir Festival and will become a firm favourite in concert programmes over the coming years.”
The Colmcille 1500 programme is supported by key partners including the North West Development Fund, in conjunction with and supported by The Executive Office and The Irish Government. The programme has been developed based on the Audit of Columban Heritage commissioned by both Councils as well as Foras na Gaeilge and The Heritage Council as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan.