Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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21: anniversary concert

23 June 2018 – Trinity College Chapel, Dublin
Orla Flanagan, conductor

2018 marks the 21st anniversary of Mornington Singers. We celebrated this milestone and our twenty-one year history with a concert featuring some of our favourite music from over the years, and were delighted to have a number of our former members join us in an encore.

William Byrd: Sing joyfully
Colin Mawby: Alleluia, Christus resurrexit
Rhona Clarke: Regina coeli
Frank Corcoran: Caoine
James MacMillan: The gallant weaver
Hubert Parry: There is an old belief
John Buckley: Jabberwocky
Seán Doherty: Under-Song
Selga Mence: Kale?js kala debes?s
Felix Mendelssohn: Richte mich, Gott
Jaakko Mäntyjärvi: Pseudo-yoik

Enduring Fictions: Celebrating The Long Gaze Back

5 April 2018 – Regent House, Trinity College Dublin
Orla Flanagan, conductor

The choir featured in an evening of readings and music from The Long Gaze Back, an anthology of short stories by 30 Irish women writers and the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2018.

Frank Corcoran: Caoine
Seán Doherty: Under-Song
Éna Brennan: L’Étranger
Caitríona Ní Dhubhghaill: An raibh tú ar an gcarraig?


Rhona Clarke (b. 1958): Regina coeli
Eoghan Desmond (b. 1989): Oh, most merciful!
Colin Mawby (b. 1936): Alleluia, Christus resurrexit
Ben Hanlon (b. 1952): World War I Letters (first performance)
Mark Armstrong (b. 1963): Dreaming
Seán Doherty (b. 1987): Under-Song
Éna Brennan (b. 1990): L’Étranger
John Buckley (b. 1951): To the Northeast (first performance)
Caitríona Ní Dhubhghaill (b. 1975): An raibh tú ar an gcarraig?
Frank Corcoran (b. 1944): Caoine


14.7.2018 Teatro Mancinelli Orvieto FRANK CORCORAN ” Hot Dialogues ” for Viola and Pianoforte

Duo Pratoleva

and Christopher Corcoran ” Deep Blue Windows ” ”

15.7.2018 Piccolo Teatro Cavour Bolsena SAME PROGRAMME

Exciting new chamber works. New sound-visions . New compositional courage….




4th June 2017, 12noon

1. Frank Corcoran: “Duetti Irlandesi” for violoncello & pianoforte Irish Premiere
i) “Im Aonar seal”
ii) “A Mhairin De Barra”

2. Frank Corcoran: “Variazioni semplici” for Solo Viola

3. Frank Corcoran: “Rhapsodietta Joyceana” for Solo Cello

4. Interview with Evonne Fergusson (Director CMC) and Frank Corcoran

5. Frank Corcoran: “Duetti Irlandesi” for violoncello & pianoforte
iii) “Séan Ó Duibhir An Ghleanna”
iv) “Mo Roísín Dubh”

6. Frank Corcoran: “Trio” for viola, violoncello and pianoforte Irish Premiere

Total length c.45mins


Fergal Caulfield: pianoforte
Adèle Johnson: viola
Martin Johnson: violoncello


Wednesday 2 March 1994 01:02

The Independent Culture

Since 1991, which saw the demise of the Accents festival, Dublin has been without a showcase for the work of

contemporary composers. The extraordinary decision by the national broadcasting service, RTE, to include just one

work by a living Irish composer in the 1993 subscription series of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) provoked

such a public furore that a palliative of some sort was bound to be offered in due course. It materialised at the

end of February as a 10-day ‘celebration of new Irish music’ under the billing Music Now.

Sadly, the programming professed no theme or focus, and in the absence of work by the likes of Gerald Barry,

Frank Corcoran and Paul Hayes, the most discernible trend was towards conservatism.


Stretching horizons was festival high note IRISH TIMES

Thu, Nov 30, 2000, 00:00

Frank Corcoran, director and guest composer of this year’s festival of contemporary music in Sligo,
seeks to disturb musical horizons; the new becomes the old and the old becomes the new,
a concept he has enshrined in a new word, “Seannua”.
This coinage (containing the Irish for old and new) he frequently brought to the attention of the audiences, but it was most vividly illustrated in the Vogler String Quartet’s concert: after Webern’s compact and painfully compressed Op.5, Ian Wilson’s nightmarish Wander darkling (written this year), Stravinsky’s stark Three Pieces and Wolfgang Rihm’s Quartet No.1 (written in 1970 and struggling to combine profundity with comprehensibility), Haydn’s Op.76 No.4 (Sunrise), unquestionably odd!

A lunchtime recital with Judith Mok (soprano), Colm O’Donnell (seannos) and Gabriel Rosenstock (reader), illustrated variously the capabilities of the human voice. The most recent work, John Buckley’s I am wind on sea (an early Irish text in his own translation) produced sounds of jarring primitivism that have been abandoned for the most part by western musicians; accompanied only by her own percussion (cymbals and wood blocks), Judith Mok could have been a visitor from Outer Mongolia.

In strong contrast was the gentle and tuneful mouth-music of Colm O’Donnell.
Rosenstock read some of his own haiku with warm feeling and engaging clarity and also provided the texts (in Irish)
for Corcoran’s Cuig luric. In these, the soprano was accompanied by the Mostly Modern Piano Trio and the composer used the words as springboards for elaborate inventions.

Although Saturday night’s concert contained Ligeti’s Six Pieces for Wind Quartet, Benjamin Dwyer Crow’s Vanity (a musical expression of understanding, if not of empathy, with Ted Hughes’s malicious and malignant bird of prey, written for cello and tape) and Donncha Dennehy’s Metropolis Mutabilis for tape solo (this was an apotheosis of traffic noises that might have been called “Dublin, the song of a great city”),
it was Corcoran’s night.

His Buile Shuibhne, a setting of Seamus Heaney’s translation, in which the composer was the impassioned reciter, accompanied by principals of the NSO and conducted by David Brophy, had a Shakespearian intensity that was reminiscent of King Lear. The four winds and the four strings and the percussion, now together, now at cross purposes, played as if their lives depended on it.

Equally committed was the RIAM Percussion Ensemble in Music From the Book of Kells and Goirt a’ Bhroin/ Trauerfelder.

Corcoran uses percussion in a subtle way, not relying too much on staccato rhythms; Goirt a’ Bhroin was both tocsin and knell, dirge and curfew, making its point by reticence and not overstatement.

Also in the concert was Corcoran’s new Wind Quintet (his third), recently commissioned by the Arts Council and played by the Daedalus Quintet.
Sweeney’s Winderies is its subtitle;
the composer writes: “It is in no sense programmatic. It is wind . . .”
An uncomfortable work, raw like a wound that still oozes, this was its first performance anywhere.
The other works, though performed abroad, have had to wait till now for a public performance in Ireland.

This festival, in the welcoming ambience of the Model Arts and Niland Gallery, makes some amends for the neglect. Yet another work, Lines and Figurations for bass-clarinet and marimba, was performed on Sunday, flanked by Concerto for Violin and Percussion by Lou Harrison and Concerto for Flute and Percussion by A. Joliver.
Richard O’Donnell conducted the RIAM Ensemble and principals of the NSO in these piquant blends of the oriental and classical.


In between, the orchestra’s principal cellist, Martin Johnson, gave the first performance of Frank Corcoran’s Cello


Corcoran long ago established a reputation as being something of a wild man, musically speaking, among Irish

composers. Rawness and roughness are his stock in trade. He prefers the jagged, the shrill, the disruptive to the

smooth, the sweet or the calming.

His note about the new concerto refers to the idea of the solo instrument singing in all registers. On a first

hearing it sounds as if his concern to allow the cello breathing space has created something of a Jekyll and Hyde

effect, with the orchestral ranting standing distinctly apart from the cello’s often more plaintive cries.


Epen, Klagen, zwinkernde Zwischentöne

> Frank Corcoran |

Bild: Eugene Langan


> Montag, 06.01.2014

> 22:05 bis 23:00 Uhr




> Der irische Komponist Frank Corcoran

> Von Ulrike Zöller


> Die Klänge seiner Kindheit in der Grafschaft Tipperary am irischen

> Fluss Shannon bestanden aus Flussrauschen, Naturgeräuschen und, wie

> Frank Corcoran schmunzelnd erzählt, einem „Schweineorchester“, 100

> Schweinen in vielen Tonlagen. Mit 21 Jahren hörte er zum ersten Mal


> Streichquartett und begeisterte sich so sehr für die Musik, dass er

> neben seinem Studium der Theologie und Philosophie auch Musik

> studierte. In den Studienjahren in Dublin, Rom und Berlin entdeckte


> Komponist bei sich die Fähigkeit, seine Faszination für alte Mythen,

> die Erinnerung an die Klänge seiner Kindheit und seine literarische

> Begeisterung in Musik umzusetzen. An der Hochschule für Musik in

> Hamburg lehrt der 1944 geborene Corcoran bis zu seiner Pensionierung

> Komposition. Daneben schreibt er in vielerlei musikalischen Formen,


> verschiedene Klangkörper, Ensembles, auch mithilfe elektronischer

> Mittel. Immer wieder aber scheint bei seinen Kompositionen die alte

> Welt der Druiden, der irischen Heiligen, der Feen, der Naturwesen und

> weitsichtigen Literaten durch – ebenso wie die ersten musikalischen

> Eindrücke seiner Kindheit: Die archaischen Klänge der Totenklagen wie

> auch das „Schweineorchester“ seiner ländlichen Heimat.


Frank Corcoran on his new STRING QUARTET :

After Bartok , Ligeti and Lutoslawski how can I write something hot and strange ?

As I approach the age of seventy five, my new quartet’s 3 movements must aim for tautness, “there’s-not-much-time-left” stuff ;
– in plain English, everything must flow from

the opening bar of Mov. 1. , ” Allegro irascibile ma nobile ” .

Already in this opening is the electric tautness that I want from each instrument, each using the same 4 notes ( G . A flat . C sharp and D ) in different order .

My Leitmotiv

provides the building-blocks for the entire first movement ; – for each phrase and colouring and tonal region and

all my derived versions and expressed yells and screams,

all musical protests and denials, they all comes out of the opening sound explosion;

Yes, my architectural ideal here is as old as that of the great string quartets by the Viennese masters , but also

those of Webern , Schoenberg and Alban Berg.

“Ex parvis multa” was the old tag.

My composed unity IS audible ; it’s the thinking ear. The solo cello then announces the exhaustion of my 4-note

material as Movement One collapses.

Very slow Movement Two consists of the melodies which I weave out of my Frank Corcoran 7 -Note Scale ( – consisting

of G. A flat. C sharp. D. E flat. F sharp. A. – it built both the Violin Concerto and the Cello Concerto ), heard

first on the first violin, pizzicato. So melody plus accompaniments. That’s it.

Movement Three I have marked “Allegro Barbaro ” and ” feroce e ruvidissimo ” . The throbbing dyads on each of the four instruments shift and interlock , descend or ascend, sounding
great choirs of 4, 5, 6 and 7 voices.

This is no Irish minimalism but rather the most violent string music I have ever imagined.

The final chords are also all derived from the quartet’s opening. ( “In my end is my beginning”. ) No neo-Bartokisms

or Lutoslawskieries but neo-Corcoran.

High voltage. Kinetic art.


Please find below a personal invitation to a concert of Irish chamber music presented by renowned Irish composer and

Aosdána member, Frank Corcoran. This special programme of Irish music, new and old, will be performed by the

Pratoleva Piano Trio, members of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and will feature the Italian premieres

of Frank Corcoran’s Piano Trio and Duetti Irlandesi on “sean nós” old Irish melodies (2016 ). The concert will

take place at the Embassy of Ireland, Villa Spada on the Gianicolo on Saturday 27 May at 6pm.