Ireland stands unique among the nations of the world in having a musical instrument, the harp, as its national emblem. Irish musicians of all hues are widely celebrated.
Riverdance has been an international phenomenon for two decades.
Flautist James Galway and the rock band U2 are known all over the world.
Singer Sinéad O’Connor is famous enough for her behaviour on US chat shows to create international headlines. And traditional music is even more widely dispersed than the phenomenon of the Irish pub.
Composing the Island, the September 2016 festival of 27 concerts over 19 days, was a pretty hefty event by any measure. And it was not even designed to celebrate the full history of composition in Ireland, just the works of the last hundred years. There has been nothing quite like it before. Anywhere. Ever.
Yet the tradition of music it salutes has long had in Ireland a Cinderella-like position, an invisibility that can sometimes seem like the airbrushing or photoshopping into non-existence of a major art form.
‘I’m a Composer’—‘You’re a What?’
was the title which FRANK CORCORAN gave an essay he contributed to THE CRANE BAG back in 1982.
It was his way of explaining that Irish people simply didn’t see being a composer as a serious or full-time occupation.