Summer Sonata: Classical & Choral Festivals
From hundreds of voices singing out in unison to chilled out piano masterclasses, here are just five classical and choral music festivals taking place around the country over the summer months.
Pipeworks (20-25 June) is an annual celebration of organ music. Running since 1980, this year’s theme is Mighty Fortress, taking its inspiration from hymns of the 16th century with a focus on the Lutheran chorale. Concerts will take place in some of Dublin’s most visually and acoustically impressive venues, including St Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals. One of the highlights is set to be the gala show with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall featuring renowned pieces by Bach and Mendelssohn.
Limerick Sings (22-25 June) is an international choral festival with local, national and international choirs joining together in song. Now it in its fifth year, 2017’s gathering includes concerts in captivating venues like St. John’s Cathedral as well as vocal workshops and a choral trail. The annual Big Sing event features over 100 people performing a moving rendition of Danny Boy with the dramatic, windswept Cliffs of Moher as their stage.
West Cork Chamber Music Festival (30 June-8 July) has been running in the scenic town of Bantry since 1995 and is now one of the leading events of its kind in Europe. For something novel, there will a concert on nearby Whiddy Island, followed by a mackerel smoking demonstration and tour of the idyllic island. As well as concerts and masterclasses, there will be violin and bow makers displaying their craft. Several works by young Irish composers will also be premiered during the lauded Cork festival.
Irish International A Capella Festival (14-16 July) is a new event in the capital celebrating the uplifting music of the unadorned human voice. Hosts Ardú welcome acclaimed Irish vocal ensemble 4 in a Bar for the opening gala and other highlights include Grammy Award-winners The Swingles with their latest folk-tinged vocal music project. The programme includes a family workshop and an a capella competition, for those wishing to showcase their own pitch perfect harmonic abilities.
Dublin International Piano Festival (22-30 July) celebrates its fifth year with performances, lessons, masterclasses and seminars with an enticing line-up of the world’s finest pianists. One of the more intriguing artists is Francesco Tristano, a Luxembourg-born pianist who composes both classical and electronic music. Inspired by techno, Tristano’s performances incorporate synths and samplers and even using the inside of the piano for percussion – he has recorded versions of several Detroit club classics. The documentary on the festival gives a flavour of what to expect.