A musical journey into our technological past

A NEW and extraordinary work by Jennifer Walshe titled Oscailt will premiere at Belltable on Thursday September 21. 

Performed by Jennifer Walshe (vocalist), Elizabeth Hilliard (soprano), Nick Roth (saxophones) and Panos Ghikas (multi-instrumentalist and electronics), Oscailt is a stunning multi-media composition for sound and video that invites you to open your mind and see the world through the eyes of our digital natives.  

Oscailt was developed by the amazing force of nature that is vocalist, improviser and composer Jennifer Walshe and her ensemble with the help of secondary school students from across the country. 

“Imagine a place where a phone tower is planted next to a holy well, where Facebook employees at the Clonee data centre tend beehives in a nod to mediaeval monks, and where the hexagonal shapes of the basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway are echoed in the solar cells of the James Webb Telescope peering into deepest space as the Leviathan once did. No need to imagine it, we are living it.”

Through a series of workshops together they will explore and create sounds using the instrumental, vocal and computer improvisation techniques that will be incorporated into the final live performances. Students will join Walshe and her ensemble on stage to perform some of their co-created material for audiences at their local venues. 

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For this project Walshe has been filming at iconic sites across the country including Valentia Island, The Hill of Tara, the Giant’s Causeway and Silicon Docks in Dublin. Oscailt will incorporate visuals and electromagnetic sound recorded at these sites and her fascination with AI and all its applications for music and performance will also be evident in the piece, transforming the Giant’s Causeway into a towering mass of marshmallows among other things. 

Described by the Irish Times as ‘the most original compositional voice to emerge from Ireland in the past 20 years’, Walshe’s compositions and performances have been commissioned, broadcast and presented all over the world. 

Currently Professor of Composition at the University of Oxford, her 2020 album A Late Anthology of Early Music Vol. 1: Ancient to Renaissance was chosen as an album of the year by The Irish Times, The Wire and The Quietus. 

Earlier this year Walshe was announced as the University of Huddersfield’s Composer in Residence at hcmf// 2023, the UK’s leading festival of new and experimental music. 

Oscailt premieres at Belltable on Thursday September 21.