Frank Corcoran

irish composer


It was an intolerably humid summer-night at Lake Michigan , 1990 in Milwaukee. My drained year as a Fulbright Guest-Professor in the U.S.A. was ending ; two shadows lay over the family, my wife´s insanity and the violent death of my oldest son, Rory, shortly before. The University of Wisconsin Library purchased a facsimile edition of the Book of Kells in Lucerne. It commissioned me to compose a work for this event. My soul´s flood-gates opened then. This one-movement canvas for a vast array of percussion and , at the end,
Irish pianist ( – I was he- ) paints my Early Medieval Ireland, that strange interfacing of Celtic monastic Christianity and pagan tribal forces, war , peace, prayer, cattle-stealers and saints and druids and kings…. Quiet opening bells and gongs give way to deep drums, later timpani and brake-drums, an great ocean of sound-associations .


All that we saw was his shadow under his shield

5 perc pf MS13′
Commissioned by Book of Kells Committee
of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Premiere: 27 May 1990. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA.
New Music Ensemble, Frank Corcoran (pf), conductor Pavel Burda.
Mad Sweeney. Percussion Modern, Frank Corcoran(pf), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz.

Black Box 1999. BBM1026

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  • I’m glad that there is a recording of this! I was there at its premiere 17 years ago (was it that long ago already??) as a quiet 19-year-old disciple of James Liddy, and I was better known as “Dave’s brother Mark” at that time (or: unknown at all).

    I remember the intensity of both yourself as well as that of Pavel Burda. I was unaware of all that was going on in your life at that time. The quote, “All that we saw was his shadow under his shield” meant a lot to me at the time, and it still stays with me to this day, along with the music that helped shape that phrase.

  • Dear Mark Brannan, Just found your 2007 lines on my – delighted ! ( You´ll see, computing isn´t quite my cup of tea…. Ah , yes ! My BOOK OF KELLS at U.W.M. in , was it, 2000 ? And Pavel Burda ….
    Mark, have you by any chance ( or your brother, Dave – say ” Hi! ” to him from me – ) got an address and /or email for Jim Chapman ? I wanted to write him a line after poor James Liddy´s death which – here at Hamburg or here in Italy where I compose now – I heard about only roundab