Sue Rynhart talks about her Music Network/Centre Culturel Irlandais Music Performance Residency

Sue Rynhart talks about her Music Network/Centre Culturel Irlandais Music Performance Residency
Vocalist, songwriter and improviser Sue Rynhart was awarded the Music Network/Centre Culturel Irlandais Music Performance Residency 2023. She spent the month of April in Paris developing work and we caught up with her to find out more about the residency and her plans for the future.

Sue Rynhart is a vocalist, songwriter and improviser and mother of three boys. Throughout her career, she has sung early music, lieder, chanson, oratorio, classical, contemporary classical, choral music, contemporary jazz, folk and traditional Irish song. Drawing on these styles while improvising, Sue finds inspiration in the music and poems that she hears in her imagination.

During her residency Sue developed a collection of songs inspired by Gothic short stories. The songs explored themes of cats, hauntings, witches, postpartum psychosis, isolation, renewal and empowerment, and uncover the role of gender, nature, music and the setting of atmosphere in the genre. The collection of songs is based on Sue’s hand-picked collection of stories by authors from the 18th and 19th centuries to the present day.

We asked Sue what was her favourite part about spending a month in Paris and she answered with no hesitation that it was the people. She instantly felt at home at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, where all the staff and residents were friendly and welcoming.

During her time there, she used the old library and the mediatheque as spaces for composing her new work and she felt particularly inspired by old books that she got to use in her research.

'It was wonderful to be in Paris because there is so much art and culture to take in. I will be dining off my visits to all of the galleries and museums and sights forever. There are many artists I admire who are based in Paris and because I was there and had the facilities to host collaborations, I was able to begin a new project with two wonderful musicians based in Paris. I have since returned to continue this collaboration.'

Being a mother of three boys aged 14, 12 and 6, it was very beneficial for Sue to be able to have her family join her in Paris for her month-long residency. They had accomodation in the city during school holidays and her husband was able to work from home. 'This meant that I had my family nearby so I was able to create while feeling secure and confident that my family were also happy and having a good time. For me, this makes for greater productivity.'

Thanks to the welcoming nature of the library staff at Centre Culturel Irlandais, Sue was able to research music and books whenever she felt like it. Paris welcomed her also with performance opportunities.

Her IMC & MOM BANBAM award film was shown at the Cultural Centre, and she was invited to sing at the French premiere of Luke McManus’s film North Circular at the Balzac cinema on the Champs Elysees, and thanks to the Cultural Centre, she was able to host two rehearsals with artists Christophe Lavergne (Drums) and Bruno Ducret (Cello), also being invited to work with a fellow artist in residence in 2024.

Sue was invited to the Irish Embassy in Paris to meet the Ambassador, Political and Cultural Policy Officer and the Cultural and Political Attaché. Along with the other artists, she had the chance to to talk about her project and the residency.

Paris is the perfect place for exploring new venues, club, art galleries, museums and sites that inspired her in her improvisation practice. Sue talked fondly of the chapel at the Centre Culturel Irlandais being a very beautiful place to sing her heart out and on one Sunday she had the pleasure of singing at the church service and meeting the community.

'I was so happy to be in residence with artists of different disciplines. We had a lot of fun together. I found them all to be very inspiring and we were very supportive of each other’s work. We are still in touch with each other and I am looking forward to working with one artist in the new year. Having new experiences and getting to know new environments, food, culture, and people was very exciting which kept me in a constant state of creativity.

Being surrounded by supportive, open-hearted people who were also in a very creative state felt very healthy for a musician like me. I’m talking about the artists, the staff and the residents. The conditions for being creative couldn’t be any better at Centre Culturel Irlandais, it just feels like somewhere that creativity is respected, cherished and nurtured. Having time and headspace to reflect made for deeper discoveries in the realm of performance and improvisation practice.

I have an urgent need to make music most of the time and I have not yet ever felt the need to actively seek out inspiration. I don’t think I ever will now that I have done this residency. I’m more clear than ever to let the ideas flow through me.

At Centre Culturel Irlandais I have been able to have the privacy to mourn personal losses which has in turn allowed me to sing, create and write with a free and open heart. I have made new friendships and I have developed a new relationship with my creative self in a safe, nurturing and uniquely vibrant environment. Thank you so much for this experience, I will treasure it forever. As one of the artists in residence said on our last day, We will always have Paris.'

Where can you hear Sue's music?

A selection of work from Sue Rynhart will be broadcast on Blue of the Night with Bernard Clarke on RTÉ Lyric FM on Tuesday 25 July and you can also find more from Sue on her YouTube channel.

Sue Rynhart - We are on time (Flower Seeds)