Music Network Round Up 2015

17 December 2015

November marked the mid-way point on delivery of our Strategic Plan 2014 - 2017, which supports our mission to make high quality live music available and accessible to people throughout Ireland, while supporting the career development of musicians.  

We are encouraged that the plan continues to deliver positive results, a snapshot of which can be seen here. In a direct comparison with 2014, this year our 9-tour National Touring Programme saw a further 6% increase in audience numbers. There has also been an overall increase in the number of people benefitting from our programmes - audiences, musicians and participants - to 114,738.

It has been our pleasure to meet all of our active Partner Promoters this year and to experience our concerts in the many towns and villages they are presented in throughout the country. The hard work and committment of this valued network have been central to the overall increase in audiences nationally. 

Read on for a round up of our recent activities and achievements.

Touring Highlights

Our Autumn Season, just completed, spanned an exciting range of artists and musical genres and styles. Our tours featured the best of Scottish and Irish traditional music, one of the most talented young string quartets on the European scene, recent Jazz FM Award winners and a sensational lyric baritone. See photos, videos, reviews, interviews and audience reaction for: Benjamin Appl and Gary Matthewman here, GoGo Penguin here, Zaide Quartet here, Culture Night here and Kathleen MacInnes, Dermot Byrne, Brian Finnegan and Mike Vass here.  

Coupled with our Spring Season, which featured Irish traditional music, Nordic jazz, rootsy Americana, the inspired pairing of classical mandolin with accordion and  solo piano like you’ve never heard it before (highlights here) we feel very fortunate to have experienced many thrilling nights of music making throughout the year.

We are proud to see a number of tour line-ups curated by Music Network continue to work together beyond the life of the tour: 
•    Seamus Begley, Chris Stout and Catriona McKay released a wonderful album ‘Begley McKay Stout’ that captures the tunes and songs they performed on their 9-date tour with us
•    Kathleen MacInnes, Dermot Byrne, Brian Finnegan and Mike Vass have been invited to perform at Celtic Connections 2016
•    Maura O'Connell and Karan Casey will embark on US tour together in Autumn 2016.

Learning & Participation

Our programme of bespoke audience development/outreach activity in conjunction with our tours continues to gain momentum.

Warm thanks to the following groups who worked with us in bringing rich, holistic music experiences to children and young people in recent months: Castletown Accordion Orchestra, CIT Cork School of Music, Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig, Cork, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann groups in Tipperary, DIT Conservatory of Music, Donegal Music Education Partnership, Droichead Arts Centre, Gaelschoil Mhacan, Music Generation Cork, Music Generation Louth, Music Generation Offaly-Westmeath, Music Generation Wicklow, Scoil Aonghusa, The Piano Academy of Ireland, The Royal Irish Academy of Music, Waltons New School of Music and WIT Waterford School of Music.

We also have an extensive programme planned for Spring 2016, including a newly-developed partnership project with Music Generation Mayo and Music Generation Sligo. Music Network will act as artistic advisor and production partner for PUNKIT, a 9-week, large-scale performance project for children aged 11-13 years. PUNKIT will commence in January 2016.

Contemporary Irish Music

We are proud to actively support and promote the work of contemporary Irish composers.

This year, we commissioned new works by Marian Ingoldsby, Deirdre McKay, and Brian Irvine (in partnership with The Ark).

Since the roll out of our Strategic Plan in 2014, we have included contemporary Irish works in 91% of relevant touring programmes.

Our partnership with the Contemporary Music Cenre under its Composers Voice initiative has brought composers Ian Wilson, Marion Ingoldsby and Conor Lenihan to talk about their work at our concerts this year, enhancing the listening experience for audiences.

In addition, our Young Musicwide Awardees Chatham Saxophone Quartet launched their debut album New Irish Music in June with Music Network's help. Released on the RTÉ lyric fm label, the CD features works by Brian Byrne, Ian Wilson, Brian Irvine, Jonathan Nangle and Kenneth Edge. Gramophone Magazine reviewed the album here. The Irish Times spoke to Dan, Darren, Ciaran and Ian ahead of the album launch - watch the video here and read an insightful interview with the new online music magazine, Final Note here.


Music Network Artist Residency

In October we began piloting an ambitious new Artist Residency Programme at Triskel Christchurch, which is already proving a success. 

The Music Network Artist Residency, in partnership with Triskel Christchurch and supported by Cork City Council, was launched at a special concert on Sunday 25th October featuring the Phil Ware Trio with U.S. guitarist Peter Bernstein.  Initiated by Music Network, the residency includes a concert series curated by pianist Phil Ware complemented by an intensive programme of outreach activities and musician mentorships. More details here.


Sound investment in instruments as €181,350 awarded by Music Capital Scheme 2015

A total of €181,350 has been awarded to 19 performing groups and 13 individual musicians under the Music Capital Scheme 2015.

The scheme, supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and managed by Music Network, provides funding for the purchase of musical instruments to both non-professional performing groups and professional musicians. More details here.


€3 million donation set to allow major expansion of Music Generation

In September of this year, U2 announced that €2 million from their forthcoming Irish concerts would be gifted to Music Generation, which provides access to high quality subsidised music tuition for thousands of children and young people across the country.  A further €1 million will be gifted by The Ireland Funds who, together with U2, seed-funded Music Generation’s first phase (2010 – 2015).

Music Network established Music Generation in 2010 following a €7 million donation from U2 and The Ireland Funds – the largest ever philanthropic donation to music education in Ireland in the history of the state - to implement its national strategy for music education in Ireland. We are extremely proud of this initiative which currently provides access to music tuition for 26,000 children and young people and employment opportunities for 330 musicians.
More details here.


A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing tours Northern Ireland

We are very pleased that A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing, an original live music and animation show we co-commissioned, produced and toured with our partners The Ark in 2014, travelled north for a successful tour in November.

We are looking forward to beginning work in early 2016 on our next co-production with The Ark for children and family audiences, continuing to develop this  programming strand within our overarching touring strategy.


Partnership is fundamental to our ethos, and our work is delivered together with many national, regional and local organisations - including our network of promoters and music education partnerships, who share our artistic and developmental goals.

We are also delighted to be working with several new partners on a number of exciting programmes and projects. 

We created a new Music Performance Bursary in partnership with the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris in 2015 which will once again be offered in 2016. More details here.

We are also pleased to be involved with 'Listen at Bello Bar', a monthly night of creative music and spoken word at The Bello Bar, Dublin 8. More details here.


From Here

All in all, it has been another busy and productive year here at Music Network. We are on track on the delivery of our goals, and looking forward to building on what has been achieved thus far. 

2016 represents a significant milestone for Music Network, as it marks our 30th anniversary.

A diverse and vibrant selection of world-class Irish and international musicians will tour to twenty-one towns and villages across fourteen counties in over forty concerts from January to May within our Spring 2016 season. More details here.

We are also planning a number of special commissions, productions and events to celebrate our anniversary year, details of which will be announced soon.

As ever, we would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of our funders, sponsors and partners. We are particularly grateful to our principal funder the Arts Council, and to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Thank you, one and all, for your passion, engagement, inspiration, belief and committment to making live music happen throughout the year.