Composer George Higgs was commissioned by Scoil Mhuire Carrick-on-Shannon, through an Arts Council YPCA (young people, children, and the arts) Commission Award and supported by The Dock, to create an ambitious work for 'multisensory mobile voices' for the school choir to perform with the Millennium Choir, an adult choir based in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.
From November 2020 to June 2021, George Higgs was The Dock Composer in Residence at Scoil Mhuire on a project called Songs of Ourselves, exploring communal song forms - e.g., work songs, anthems, canons, and call and response – with the ultimate aim of creating a lyric for the innovative choral work he will now compose. Based on his earlier investigations into multisensory composition (The Sense Ensemble, 2017), George asked the students to think of a song not only as sound but as a participatory activity for all the senses. Students were encouraged to invent gestures to accompany the performance of each song and draw pictures to reflect on the various themes. A Song Scrapbook was amassed from all the sessions, featuring the finished multisensory lyric 'The Dream of the Knockabock'.
'The Dream of the Knockabock' was performed at The Dock in early June, 2022. The song was a twelve-minute 'mobile composition for multisensory voices' for the two choirs with the accompaniment of an electronic tape part with samples triggered by the composer. The score was a 6-part harmony - 2 parts for the Scoil Mhuire Choir and 4 parts (SATB) for the Millennium Choir – and will specify vocal and gestural interaction between the different choral divisions as they move about the venue. The composer envisaged that the themes of distance and proximity (in response to the Covid lockdown) were central to the composition, with the divisions of the choir serving as characters in a musical narrative.
Artwork created by the children throughout the project was projected in the lobby for all to see and also formed part of the video projection behind the performers on the night.
The commission created was a rich pageant of sound and movement, and was a spatial performance to remember. It was a special event for all involved and a great achievement.
Artwork by: Daniel Misik, Dekan Ghafur, Jack Kelly, Naoise Maher, Odhran Smyth, Jessica Stokes, Mariana Mazina, Holly McMahon-O'Reilly, Theo Gately, Alif Alam, Natasha Pawlak-Azizi, Charlie Shivnan, Liam Kernan, Nizar Dilzar, Roman Shtanhret, Rebecca Courtney, Eli Lowe, Damon Conlon-Scherer, Anton Atherton, Jayden Keenan, Aironas Serpytis and Evan Stanford
Scoil Mhuire choir:
5th class: Zuzanna Piecuch, Natalia Sidwinska, Adam O’Brien, Shauna Leavy-Garvey, Caleb Conway-Russell, Mena Conway, Cyprian Walczak, Caoilinn Malone, Shakar Ali, Michaela Queenan, Oliver Koziatek, Kellie Knight, Oleksandr Lapushenko, Sonia Zolotarjova, Gabriel Szczygiel, Julia Zawadzka, Andrea Kelly, Steven Reilly and Alannah Durkin
6th class: Dekan Ghafur, Daniel Misik, Carla Campanella, Odhran Smith, Nadia Przybylak, Damon Conlon-Sherer, Rebecca Courtney, Charlie Shivnen, Noa Pierna Granada, Roman Shtanhret, Naoise Maher, Jayden Keenan and Holly McMahon-O’Reilly
Teachers: Ms Caroline Healy, Mrs Orla Kenny, Ms Noelle Igoe and Ms Aoibheann Sullivan
Soprano: Helen Grealy, Olivia McHugh, Marcella Murray, Clodagh Redican, Delaine Rogerson, Naoimh Ennis
Altos: Lorna Gralton, Michelle Dimmock, Maureen Lynch, Siobhan Talbot, Alla Crosbie, Helen Feely
Men: Deasun Lyons, John Shanley, Martin Talbot, Frank Butler