Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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Across the Tiber, on the other side Umbran hills are different; also their farm-houses, fields, valleys, dogs or sheep or wine. They had more of St. Francis ( though he tripped and daunced along our Lazian lanes, too ). Do Umbran buzzards pursue our songbirds re-crossing the river which is the border? They do. May isn´t far behind, though the mountains this week let down more millions of litres of water to swell olives and grapes and corn. Are we dependent on the light ? These clouds? We are.


They lug the Saint´s pain

Back through his green Umbria

Soon he´ll be No Thing

Praise to the viper

The music of all that is

The hiss of silence

Tá an oiread sin grá
á dhoirteadh anois ag an spéir
pé uair dá seasaim i ngort

bíonn orm an solas a fháscadh
nuair a shroisim
an baile
Naomh Froinsias d’Assisi


Apparently Germans go all ” Ah!” and “Oh!” and ooze / enthuse when they hear you´re in the land where the lemons ripen… ditto the oranges. Apparently it all goes back to the young Goethe who knew his onions , ripe fruits and all. Then there´s the envy factor which never sleeps apparently. Apparently that´s it; where there´s lizards there´s the snake in the grass. Apparently, if you win a composer´s prize at all, you´re in for it. Unholy haikus and all your works ( and pomps ) and kindly Spring sun.
So keep it dark about the Cello Concerto, would you mind?


The 2012 SEAN O RIADA COMPOSERS´ PRIZE of the Cork International Choral Festivalw was won by

Frank Corcoran . Frank Corcoran´s ” TWO UNHOLY HAIKUS ” will receive its world-premiere by the

National Chamber Choir of Ireland , Conductor Paul Hillier, at their Festival Choral Concert In St. Finbarre´s

Cathedral, Cork, on

May 4. at 7.30 p.m.

This exciting new choral score will be the theme of the Festival Composers´ Analysis Seminar at Cork


Of Music on May 5. at 10.30 a.m. The composer will attend.



The Spring – Tarik O’Regan (1978 – )

The Deer’s Cry – Arvo Pärt (1935 – )

Five Irish Songs – Nicholas Maw (1935 – 2009)

Two Unholy Haikus- Frank Corcoran (1944 – ) (World Premiere) (Winner of the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition)

Pauper’s Lament / A Stealing Sadness – Enda Bates (1979 – )

Long Time – Gerald Barry (1952 – ) World Premiere – Commissioned Work

chOirland – David Fennessy (1976 – )


Artistic Director: Paul Hillier

The National Chamber Choir of Ireland is the country’s flagship choral ensemble. Under the internationally celebrated and multi award winning choral conductor Paul Hillier as Artistic Director, the choir is known for its unique approach to programming and has gained a reputation for the high artistic quality of its performances. The National Chamber Choir remains a thriving force in a very active choral scene both at home and abroad.

In addition to collaborating with numerous international guest conductors, the choir provides opportunities for and fosters the talents of young Irish conductors, and continues to support emerging talent on the conducting scene.

Since its inception, the National Chamber Choir has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary Irish choral music through its commitment to commissioning new work. The choir’s repertoire spans from early to contemporary music, regularly commissioning pioneering vocal work by composers such as Gerald Barry, Andrew Hamilton, Siobhán Cleary, Kevin Volans and Tarik O’Regan.

The National Chamber Choir of Ireland has a strong commitment to touring in Ireland and continues to develop its touring network in order to present high quality choral concerts to audiences all around the country. Internationally, the choir has toured extensively in Europe, Asia and South America and recently undertook its first US tour with the assistance of Culture Ireland as part of Imagine Ireland, a year of Irish Arts in America 2011.

Recent appearances include performances at the White House on St Patrick’s Day 2011, and CD releases in 2011 include One Day Fine on the Lyric FM label and Acallam na Senórach on the Harmonia Mundi label.

The National Chamber Choir continues to foster relationships with other distinguished Irish performing ensembles such as the Crash Ensemble, the Irish Baroque Orchestra and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. The ensemble enjoys a unique relationship with Cork International Choral Festival with which it collaborates on an annual basis as Choir in Residence.Principal funding for the National Chamber Choir comes from the Arts Council / an Chomhairle Ealaíon and major in-kind support from Dublin City University, where the ensemble has been Choir in Residence since 1996.

Paul Hillier

Artistic Director and Principal Conductor


Mendacity , it appears queerly, and mendicity are frequent bed-fellows for some composers. Fly South, young swallow! – Kunst and commerce, beware of the ware-house, oh schlepper of tones and sounding structures. ” An art-work has no price” is all very fine as a theory, as far as the swallow flies. How and why then compromise, bend, bend over and genuflect is connected to the composer´s breakfast, you may murmer. Murmer on. Thus a radical act, revolutionary perhaps, the lonely decision to compose an art-work? ( Heroic? More often than not, yes ? ) courage ? – Well, it could be, this often pure unearthliness; a bit like the swallow´s flight South. Call it stupidity. Call it ecstasy ?


The sun, he climb high over Bergedorf in late March. Yes, the very same sun, shines on the good and the bad , the depressed and the boring, the ecstatic and the static.
We seem to be of more cheer. More soma and psyche bonding and getting elated and sunny and high. Cello Concerto on the high run.


N.D.R. Kultur ” Prisma Musik ” broadcasts:

14.4. 2012. Frank Corcoran´s radiophonic analysis of Mozart´s CLARINET QUINTET .

5. 5 . 2012. ditto MAHLER´S 4. SYMPHONY

also: Frank Corcoran ” 9 ASPECTS OF AN IRISH POEM” for Solo Violin and Large Choir ( NDR
Radio Choir / Philip Ahmann ) .

What´s It Like To Be Frank Corcoran, I Wonder ?

What’s it like to be Frank Corcoran?

1. How and when did you get interested in composing?

A seven year old lad: my first piano-lesson with kindly Sister Francis at Borrisokane Convent. I wanted to re-compose sections of The Rosebud Waltz. I was then studying intensively — and intensely.

2. Is composing your ‘day job’ or do you do something else as well?

I am a music professor at Hamburg’s Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Theater (‘day-job’). However, when the Cúchulainn warp-spasms get me with a new composition, I work day and night also at that.

3. Where do you mostly get your ideas?

Triggers of the past: poor Mad Sweeney (turned biography and breakfast — of cress and pure, cold water — into art); a poem (Rosenstock, John Barth, medieval Irish lyrics, etc.); a scaffolding (rondo as rosary-beads, etc.); an obscure form (e.g. exploding tonal shell or mine, etc.); out of the living air…

4. What are you working on at the moment?

Tradurre-Tradire: electro-acoustic with many voices, commission of Deutschland Radio Berlin for 2 July 2004 premiere. Hope to begin a strange new work for orchestra straight after that. Obscure longings…

5. Describe your typical working day.

As with Brahms and other Viennese, the best ideas come very early, by first light; are worked and whittled and soldered at any available hour of the not long enough day.

6. What is it like hearing a new piece played for the first time?

My Platonic Form becomes Sounding Flesh. No (even excellent) performance ever is that form. But it is my sounding embodiment of it. Like so many other (I do hope) composers, I must also respect good musicians’ wishes: a nuance here, a wood-wind phrasing there. The past greats were always humble about having occasionally to watch the weight of their orchestration. Me too…

7. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The premiere in Vienna (luminous 1981) of my Symphonies of Symphonies of Wind (O.R.F. Symphony Orchestra — glorious wind-sounds! — conducted by Lothar Zagrosek).

8. What has been the lowlight of your career so far?

When the then RTÉ Symphony Orchestra (it wasn’t their fault; the repeat performance was great!) premiered my Two Meditations on [texts by] John Barth in, I think, 1973-ish in the Francis Xavier Hall, Dublin. My work for speaker and orchestra sounded (Oh technology!) as a work for orchestra without speaker. Next time, I was on the alert.

9. What is your greatest ambition?

To keep the courage up; moral, artistic courage. To go out on the edge. With new work in different genres, e.g. my present, new Tradurre-Tradire, ‘How to translate her scream’.

10. Which musician in history do you most admire and why?

Of the many candidates, today it’s Schubert. In his death-year, he knew how he would syphilitically end. He continued to the last to produce high masterpieces, music of the highest order and, I’ll say it again, courage.

11. Which present-day musician do you most admire and why?

Ligeti, my former colleague at Hamburg, is still living. Late Boulez: works, e.g. Sur Incises, continue to stretch him and us. Lutoslawsky up to the end, a high heroism.

12. Which period of history would you most like to have lived in and why?

I’ll stay put in today. In spite of the most vicious neo-con anti-art winds known to man.

13. What is the best thing about being a composer?

I can’t let up till a new work, being born, gives me relief from the creative, itching obsession.

14. What is the worst thing about being a composer?

My fellow-Irish have not yet (will they?) accepted music as an art on a par with Irish literature, Irish painting, etc. I include fellow Irish artists — especially my Aosdána colleagues — intellectuals, cultural philosophers, pub-poets and princes, powerful potentates. Is this fear of Irish art-music, Irish composers, genetic? Education-induced? Very strange for a ‘European’ nation. Very.

15. If you weren’t a composer, what other career might you have chosen?

A thinker, tinker, philosopher, theological traveller.

16. What is your concept of heaven?

Please email Dante…

17. What is your concept of hell?

Please email Richard Perle and other U.S. neo-con think-tankers.

18. What is your favourite food?

Cannelloni cooked in any village in Umbria, Lazio or Chianti. Also well-composed Irish Stew (where’ll I get it?).

19. If someone gave you three months off with unlimited travel and living expenses, what would you do?

Month 1: Skellig Rock, composer´s camp for one. Month 2: An Umbrian village I’m keeping nameless, cannelloni, and accompaniments to lave the soul’s ear. Month 3: Mount Athos with paper and pencil (shouldn’t be too hot or waterless).

20. If you could have one thing in the world that would really help you as a composer, what would it be?

Change places — for a pleasant while — with eighteenth-century Joseph Haydn. I, too, would enjoy his Duke’s orchestral generosity.

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