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Sat, 29 Feb


Main Stage

RTÉ NSO: Cleary, O'Leary, Guðmundsson

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RTÉ NSO: Cleary, O'Leary, Guðmundsson
RTÉ NSO: Cleary, O'Leary, Guðmundsson

Where and When

29 Feb 2020, 19:30 – 20:30

Main Stage, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Saint Kevin's, Dublin 2, Ireland

About the Event


Siobhán Cleary Hum! (15’)

Hum! is a musical theatre piece for two actors and string orchestra, a collaboration with the writer Gerard Beirne, commissioned by the Irish Chamber Orchestra in 1997.

The dialogue is limited to only two syllables; the first of these is spoken by the first voice who sits alone and is echoed by a hidden figure. This brings comfort and companionship at first until the “echo” begins to test his partner, initially in a playful manner. As the echo gradually becomes an independent voice, the confrontation veers from humour to rage. At the highest point of tension, the relationship between the two men breaks down as the drama shifts to hopelessness and then inevitably it seems, to tragedy. 

The string orchestra, acts like a Greek chorus, commenting on the dialogue, but not accompanying it. The music alternates between stormy polyrhythmic scalic passages and a sharp edged pointillistic section finally ending with a contrapuntal elegy, reflecting the two men’s lonely anguish.

Hum! was premiered in Limerick in 1998 with the actors Aiden Condron and Michael Billington and produced by Jeff Gormley. It was subsequently taken on a national tour, and was described by Douglas Sealy of “The Irish Times” as “a coup de théâtre”. 

Jane O’Leary Triptych (World Premiere) for string quartet and orchestra (16’)





Clouds always tell a true story, but one which is difficult to read.' 

'In three movements, the separate pieces relate to each other as in a triptych - defined as a work of art divided into three sections. The outer sections of a triptych are often a reflection on the central panel; my musical images should be 'viewed' as separate but related spaces.  A sense of fragility, transparency, light and shade, and the fascination clouds hold for us as we look up to the sky - all of these things seemed a part of what I was writing.' – Jane O’Leary

A sense of fragility, transparency, light and shade, and the fascination clouds hold for us as we look up to the sky - all of these things seemed a part of what I was writing. Clouds open up our imaginations in the same way that music does. 

The piece is written for string quartet - four solo instruments which act as a unit - layered with the sounds of a symphony orchestra. Instrumental colours are layered to suggest gentle movement, while maintaining stillness. At times the music is incredibly soft, despite the fact that many musicians are playing, and requires careful listening...with the same attention one might use to gaze at clouds in the sky. 

Hugi Guðmundsson Box (17’)


\ ˈbäks \

: a rigid typically rectangular container with or without a cover

: to fight with the fists : engage in boxing

1. Unboxing

2. Machina

3. Peripeteia


RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Ryan McAdams conductor (O’Leary and Cleary)

Daníel Bjarnsson conductor (Guðmundsson)

Andreas Borregaard accordion

Ligeti Quartet 

(Guest first Violin Amy Tress)

Ciaran McCauley actor

John Carty actor


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