To celebrate their 20th anniversary at the cutting edge of contemporary classical music, Crash Ensemble have devised CrashLands – a ground breaking new project of music, film and literature, funded by The Arts Council’s new ‘Making Great Art Work’ scheme.

This ambitious collaboration commissions and showcases new work from 20 Irish and international composers. Live performances will be set in unusual rural locations scattered across their native homeland of Ireland. Crash Ensemble will present 20 new music world premieres by composers including Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Nico Muhly, Peter Adriaansz, Tansy Davies, Kate Moore, Paul Lansky, Donnacha Dennehy, Gerald Barry, Roger Doyle, Andrew Hamilton, Sean Clancy, Jennifer Walsh, Amanda Feery, Ann Cleare, Kevin Volans, Linda Buckley, Ed Bennett.

CrashLands aims to break free of tradition by bringing new elements to the creative process including film and poetry. Crash Ensemble have commissioned filmmaker + cinematographer Brendan Canty (Feel Good Lost) and bi-lingual poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa to capture and respond to this intimate portrait of new music in Ireland. 


Image by Brendan Canty

I’m joining Crash Ensemble on their national tour, performing a poem at each event. Recent performances include two islands, a labyrinth, a ruined walled garden, and a dawn event at a sacred well. At each event, Crash Ensemble perform 2 newly composed pieces of music, along with an interlude of my poetry. The events happen at dawn or by dusk, as the light grows or fades. The experience of this tour is something I could never have imagined. Each event has been unique and charming, and each event comes crashing to a finish with a rousing, blood-thumping version of Terry Riley’s ‘Ancient Giant Nude Hairy Warriors Racing Down the Slopes of Battle’ –  a version of which you can hear here.

In addition to performing, I’ve been commissioned to compose 10 new poems to accompany each event along the way. A tall order! As I write this, we have completed 5 dates, and I have 5 draft poems in the works, on a theme of stone. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next 5 events take us, and what poems may rise from the stones in each location.

If you’d like to join us for an upcoming event, see here. In the meantime, Brendan Canty has made a beautiful film piece that sets the tone for the project. Watch it here.

My gratitude to Mary Hickson for inviting me along, to Jon Pearson and to Neva Elliott McGinley for their impeccable logistical skills, and to Crash Ensemble for their beautiful music and flawless professionalism.