Composer George Higgs has been 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' will be 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 will be for 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 envisages that the themes of distance and proximity (in response to Covid lockdown) will be central to the composition, with the divisions of the choir serving as characters in a musical narrative.
This commission is currently being created and will be a rich pageant of sound and movement will be a spatial performance to remember.
Millennium Choir was established at the end of 1998 to celebrate the coming Millennium in a special way by combining the singing talents of 100 amateur singers, the Choir has maintained its presence ever since, performing on an annual or 18 month basis well over 60 performances locally, regionally and internationally (including St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NY, Paris, Prague, Budapest and Rome). It is a full SATB choir which sings a mix of sacred, operatic, stage musical, and popular music. It is based in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, and its members of various ages and backgrounds come from a wide area from Longford to Sligo. Over its history, the choir has sung with many established invited soloists, among them Celine Byrne, Sandra Oman, James Nelson, Paul Linehan, Fiona O’Reilly, and rising opera singer Deirdre McCabe (a former member of the choir), as well as with the Band of An Garda Síochána, the Army Band and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. The choir was honoured to have been chosen to participate in the Easter Concert 2016 at Collins Barracks where the new work, One Hundred Years A Nation, by Irish composer Shaun Davey was performed and broadcast on RTÉ television.