Trip is my first encounter with sole female voices as a composer, and one that I was delighted to embark on as an active member of Dulciana. I approached this piece with the same mindset that I would a piece for mixed choir; to engage with the unique timbre and range of the voices at hand with the goal of creating an engaging and unusual piece for both the singer and listener.
Text for me thus far has been the crux of any choral piece I've written and for this project I decided to write my own. I have recently been delving into original text through songwriting, and Trip consisted of a collection of lyrics that I had not yet set to music when Eoghan first approached me to write a piece for Dulciana. The narrative jumps between prose and rhyme with sentences blending into each other, creating extended phrases. For example, in "Picking crumbs off of your form-fitting top ten playlists on shuffle for the day", the word "top" acts as a link between two separate sentences. This propulsive movement using language is something I've been engaging with in a vast amount of my songwriting. You might notice that the language is also very much of our time, incorporating colloquialisms that are at home in the 21st century, and in particular relate strongly to anyone who grew up in the 80 or 90s; my reference to Blue Peter, the children's TV show is an obvious example. Trip revolves around the observation from an omniscient third party of a romantic relationship between two people when they are together and when they part ways. This is universal in concept but when paired with modern day notions such as broken half-stolen bicycles, it is turned into something that hopefully resonates with a contemporary audience.
Having sung with Dulciana for the past year, I benefitted from knowing the specific voices I would be writing for. We have sung quite challenging music in the past two terms so I embraced the opportunity to challenge them further. The harmonic and rhythmic nature of the piece shifts and trips quite consistently into contrasting sound worlds, keeping the singers on their toes! There are also a few musical references to some of my previous choral works as well as pieces that I know some of those singers have sung before. These gestures are little subtleties that I enjoy entwining into my pieces, more for the pleasure of the singers than the audience. Little nods to a musical journey that has no doubt influenced how I write.
I would like to thank Eoghan Desmond for conceiving the idea for this concert and for inviting me to be involved. I can't wait to hear the new works written by some of my fellow Irish female composers!