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Soprano Michelle O'Rourke with harpist Richard Allen perform works by Ed Bennett & Scattered Earth by Deirdre Gribbin in the opening concert of NMD 

Friday 23rd April



Michelle O’Rourke, soprano 

Richard Allen, harpist 

Deirdre Gribbin Scattered Earth 

Ed Bennett Journal Songs 2020 (for voice and harp) 

Grounded is a project originally inspired by soprano Juliet Fraser's commitment to travelling entirely by land and sea, eschewing air travel entirely. As the works were commissioned, and the project took shape, Grounded has widened its meaning through the pandemic to reflect the way that we are all now held on the ground until such time as we can begin to move again - physically, emotionally and metaphorically. 

The new works by Ed Bennett and Deirdre Gribbin were commissioned with the generous support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and the project was developed with the assistance of CMC. 

Deirdre Gribbin Scattered Earth 

"It is indisputable that our greed for resources is contributing to the destruction brought about by climate change. Scattered Earth explores the impact humans are having on Earth’s natural balance. The poems which provide the foundation of the piece depict images of forest fires, the destruction of the ocean’s kelp forests and the melting Arctic ice cap which impact the habitat of life so critically. I was moved to express in my own words the plight of the majestic whale, whose existence is once again under threat from hunters and whose habitat is being destroyed by us. There is something incredibly affirmative about the life cycle of the whale. When the mammal dies, its body sinks to the seabed and gradually dissolves into the depths becoming carbon neutral. This poem comments on the importance of maintaining the equilibrium and order of the natural world. There are moments of hope in the songs also: terns were hatching more than ever in Norfolk during the summer of 2020 because of the diminished human interference. I have also set words written by my son Ethan, who has Down Syndrome and has a particularly pure view of the world around him. This is expressed in the clarity of his poetry. His hope is that the ice may reveal its secrets and give us answers. Reduced travel, less pollution from CO2 emissions into the atmosphere during the Covid lockdowns has meant that the planet had a chance to repair and recover which is a positive. Perhaps the time spent in self-reflection during the recent pandemic will lead us to embrace sustainability and balance in order to reverse some of the damage which is already happening to our beautiful and intricate planet, whose future depends so much on our vision and respect for it" (Deirdre Gribbin 2021) 

Ed Bennett Journal Songs 2020 (for voice and harp) 

"Over the past few years I’ve rekindled a habit of keeping a journal, I don’t manage to write in it every day, but I do my best. This set of songs contains snippets from that journal from the year 2020. There are many clear references in the journal to the global pandemic and how it has transformed our lives and created a kind of constant uncertainty and anxiety. The work isn’t overtly about the situation but rather a simple commentary on day to day thoughts recorded during that period. Journal Songs 2020 was commissioned by New Music Dublin with funds provided by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland." (Ed Bennett)

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