Listening to Women 2016: Layla Claire & Deirdre Brenner

Layla Claire (soprano) & Deirdre Brenner (piano) perform ‘Epheu’ from Richard Strauss’s Madchenblumen Lieder

Deirdre+-+croppedPianist Deirdre Brenner has performed throughout the USA, UK, and Europe. A musician with a passion for chamber music and art song, she has appeared in venues including the Wiener Musikverein, Wiener Kozerthaus, Arnold Schönberg Center (Vienna), Stadthalle (Bayreuth), Teatro Real (Madrid), Beurs van Berlage (Amsterdam), the National Concert Hall (Dublin), St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and St. James-Picadilly (London), and the Hollywell Music Room (Oxford).

Originally from Massachusetts, USA, Deirdre earned a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in both Engineering Sciences and Music, and Master’s degrees from both the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Vienna Conservatory.She is co-founder of the Boyne Music Festival as well as Mosaïque, an innovative concert series in Vienna, Austria.

Me with Deirdre Brenner in Townley Hall at the Boyne Valley Music Festival 201

Me with Deirdre Brenner in Townley Hall at the Boyne Valley Music Festival 201

Canadian-born soprano Layla Claire is an expressive and experienced concert singer, laylasmallwho enjoys an ongoing collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra with whom she performed Mahler’s Symphony No.2 under both James Levine and Michael Tilson Thomas and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream under Bernard Haitink.

Claire made her main stage Metropolitan Opera debut while still a member of the Lindemann Program as Tebaldo (Don Carlo) under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and has since returned for several guest appearances including the creation of the role of Helena in the Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island under William Christie (available on Virgin Classics DVD), and as Anne Trulove (The Rake’s Progress) under James Levine. She  demonstratef her versatility in her Washington National Opera debut as Blanche de la Force (Les dialogues des Carmélites) in a new production by Francesca Zambello, receiving universal critical acclaim.

Listening to Women 2016: Nell Ní Chróinín


Nell-Ní-Chróinín1Nell Ní Chroinín is originally from An Choill Mhór, in the Irish-speaking town of Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh. Her interest in sean-nós singing arose after attending her first Oireachtas na Gaeilge event when she was ten years old. In her own words, “It was a result of the Oireachtas that I was given a chance to meet with some of the greatest singers, dancers, poets, composers and characters who have now passed on”. As a teenager, she won prestigious sean-nós singing prizes, in particular winning in her age category at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2005 and 2006.

In 2008, Ní Chróinín won a medal at the Oireachtas na Gaeilge competition, second place amongst the female singers under 35, and returned in 2010 to win first place in the same category. In 2014, Nell won Corn Uí Riada and was both the youngest person ever to win it and the first person from Seán Ó Riada’s home place of Múscraí to win it.


Everything to Play For: 99 Poems About Sport


I’m delighted to see my poem ‘Lament for Christy Ring’ included in Poetry Ireland’s new anthology Everything to Play For: 99 Poems About Sport. Michael Moynihan, writing in the sports pages of the Irish Examiner, has this to say:

It was intriguing to see Christy Ring as a presence in a run of three or four consecutive hurling poems — almost mythical, with a terrific description setting a scene in Billy Ramsell’s ‘Lament for Christy Ring’ that could be introducing us to one of the Fir Bolgs: “Aboriginal, electrical/His great bulging eye…”


Actually, that point about the poetry having elements in common with the best sportswriting? Scratch that: the best writing, full stop. A gold medal here for Poetry Ireland and a good day’s work.




Listening to Women 2016: Irene Buckley

Originally commissioned by the Cork French Film Festival, this live score for soprano, pipe organ and electronics premiered at Triskel Christchurch, Cork. It has since been performed at Glasgow Cathedral for the Glasgow Film Festival, Skibbereen Arts Festival, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral Cork and Union Chapel in London. Past performers include Emma Nash (soprano), Molly Lynch (soprano), Rhoda Dullea (organ) and James McVinnie (organ).


Irene Buckley, a composer from Cork, Ireland, holds a BMus and a PhD in Composition from University College Cork, and an MA in Music Technology from Queens University Belfast.

Irene was a prize winner at the 14th International Young Composers Meeting in the Netherlands and was commissioned to write for the Dutch National Youth Orchestra. Her piece Stórr, for orchestra, was shortlisted for the TANSMAN 2010 8th International Competition of Musical Personalities Composers’ Competition and was performed by the Lodz Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. She has also written music for many theatre, dance and film productions.