West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Part One

I returned yesterday from the wonderful surroundings of Bantry in West Cork, where I was helping out at the town’s annual Chamber Music Festival. I am still wrecked from attending 35 concerts in 9 days; five concerts nearly every day. I’m away tonight but I’m going to post up some thoughts while they are still fresh in my mind, and outline the important details of what I learned and what I got up to. More detailed posts to come in the days that follow.

I’ll need to run the figures again but I think I heard every string quartet. All of them.

Shostakovich’s G minor Piano Quintet is a transcendentally wonderful piece. The second movement fugue still had my speechless right through the interval after the next piece in the program, after the first interval.

Arvo Pärt isn’t all bad, I accept that now. I’m not gonna go so far as to say I like him, but Tabula Rasa really got to me.

Three Ligeti pieces on the program makes for a happy Bill.

Regarding Ligeti, I’ve mentioned before how metal he is; turns out baroque cantatas can also be pretty heavy and brutal.

Shout-outs to my homies Solfa Carlile and Timothy Cape and also to new homies Seán Doherty and Patrick Egan, winners of this year’s Composition Competition at the Festival. Previous winners of this competition have gone on to such achievements as being damn handsome, having snappy dress sense, and writing the best contemporary music-cum-gig review-cum-composer’s blog in Dublin.

There are many other good and a small few negative thoughts I have; I’ll expand on these points and others in the rest of my posts, but I’ll end this by saying the festival is world-class in terms of the calibre of the performers, the expertly-chosen programmes, the stunning location and the general friendly atmosphere. Many of the people I met there (and the festival attracts international visitors) had been in previous years; people just keep coming back, which speaks to the quality of the festival.


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