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Artist Name(s) Ian Wilson
Artwork title Harbouring
Context/Background The commissioning of Harbouring in 2008 marked the tenth anniversary of Wexford County Council's support of choral music development in the county. The commission was to compose a choral work that celebrated a decade of musical achievements. The performance of the work was also to involve local groups. This was the fifth Per Cent for Art music commission undertaken by Wexford County Council since its inaugural project in 2004.

From the Local Authority's perspective, Harbouring forms part of the broader Music Development Programme initiated in 2003, which provides support for music through four strands of programming - music education, community music, commissioning, and professional development for musicians.

Leitrim based composer, Ian Wilson's Harbouring is based on nine poems from both Irish and international writers, which all have the subject of harbour in common, inspired by the link between the music and its source of funding. Some poems approach the theme literally, some more tangentially, but it is what holds the work together. He has endeavoured to write choral music which is at the same time modern and accessible, challenging to a degree, yet rewarding to sing, and written in a language and idiom which will be easily recognisable by anyone who hears it.

The music for the traditional singers has been written in such a way as to allow them to sing in their idiomatic style, yet within a context that brings their parts of the work into the same musical arena as the music which the choirs will sing.

The final poem, The Harbour, was written by an Irish poet, Winifred Letts, and speaks of the Wexford coastline; it is the ideal finish to the work.

The performances, conducted by Fergus Sheil, brought together local and national performers. It includes the Irish Chamber Orchestra, renowned accordion player Dermot Dunne, over one hundred choristers from Wexford Festival Singers, Gorey Choral Group and Enniscorthy Choral Society and local sean nós singers from the Co. Wexford's Whisht Traditional Irish singing group.

Harbouring was written for orchestra, solo accordion, choirs and traditional Irish singers. 


A performance programme and CD recording was produced and is available from Wexford County Council Arts Department.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra developed outreach workshops with the County Wexford Youth Orchestra, the Faythe Primary School and St. Iberius National School.

Preperformance publicity in the local media included South East Radio, Wexford, Enniscorthy, Gorey & New Ross Echo newspapers, Wexford People, New Ross Standard, Enniscorthy Guardian and Gorey Guardian newspapers.

The project was also promoted by Lyric FM.

Click here for coverage of the project on RTÉ Radio 1 Art's Show.

A review of Harbouring by Grainne Mulvey was published and is available from Wexford County Council Arts Department.

Review of Harbouring by Stephen Parker on page 20 of START magazine. Autumn 2008 Issue.

Review of Harbouring by David Looby in Wexford Echo

Post performance announcement in New Ross Standard

The performances were attended by an audience of 1,000.

This public art commission was characterised by a very rich process of public engagement through the participation of local performing ensembles, including the Gorey Choral Group, Enniscorthy Choral Society, Wexford Festival Singers and Whisht! Traditional Irish Singers, who rehearsed Harbouring for ten months in preparation for its world premiere in June 2008.


Ian Wilson's music has been performed and broadcast by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Ulster, Belgrade Philharmonic and Norwegian Radio Orchestras, the London Mozart Players and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Artis, Vogler and Vanbrugh Quartets, Lontano, Avanti! and Camerata Pacifica Ensembles, Catherine Leonard and Hugh Tinney.

Works have been performed at many festivals including the BBC Proms, Venice Biennale, ISCM World Music Days, the Brighton, Cheltenham and Bath Festivals and the Ultima Festival in Oslo, where the piece Running, Thinking, Finding for orchestra received the composition prize in 1991.

Recent works include Winter Finding for orchestra, commissioned by RTÉ (2005), re:play for improvising tenor saxophonist, string quartet, piano and bass (2007), premiered at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, and Cassini Void, a concerto for clarinet and 10 instruments premiered at New York’s Carnegie Hall in October 2007.

In 1992 Ian Wilson was awarded the Macaulay Fellowship. He is a member of Aosdána. From 2000 to 2003 Ian Wilson was AHRB Research Fellow in Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Ulster.

His music is published by Ricordi London and Universal Edition.

Conductor Fergus Sheil studied at Trinity College 1992 after graduation he continued conducting studies with Leon Barzin in Paris. In 1995 he won the BRI Conducting Competition, run by the National Association of Youth Orchestras in the UK.

He has appeared in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia (UK) the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Cecilia, the Cork Chamber Orchestra, and many other groups. In Opera, Fergus has worked for Scottish Opera, Opera Ireland, Wexford Festival Opera and Opera Theatre Company. In 2008 he became music director of Lyric Opera Productions. His operatic repertoire includes Rossini’s La cenerentola, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Lucia di Lammermoor, Verdi’s Aida, I due Foscari, Attila (Irish premiere) and Nabucco, as well as Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, Brian Irvine’s The Tailor’s Daughter (Irish premiere) and Michael Gordon’s Van Gogh (world premiere of 2003 version).

Strongly committed to contemporary music, Fergus Sheil has conducted thirty premieres of new works including Arvo Pärt’s The Deer’s Cry (commissioned by the Louth Contemporary Music Society), which he premiered with the Latvian State Choir in Drogheda in 2008.

From 2002 – 2004 he worked as director of Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s leading contemporary music group. With this ensemble Sheil has appeared throughout Ireland as well as in, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Estonia and Holland.

Eithne Corrigan is Music Director of the Wexford Festival Singers and Acting Music Director of the Gorey Choral Society since October 2007. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. She studied piano and violin at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with Professors Rhona Marshall and Seán Lynch.

Corrigan has also performed with both the National Symphony and National Concert Orchestras of Ireland. In 2001 and 2007 Eithne worked as repetiteur with Wexford Festival Opera on their production of Dvorák’s Jakobin and Kurt Weill’s Die Silbersee. She has also worked with Dublin Grand Opera Society and Dublin Masterclasses. Eithne initially joined the Wexford Festival singers during 1998 as an accompanist, and is currently the choir’s full time Music Director. In December 2007, Eithne directed Wexford Festival Singers and Gorey Choral Group for a highly acclaimed concert which included Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Haydn’s Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo in which she participated as organ soloist.

Donagh Wylde is the Music Director of the Enniscorthy Choral Society. He was awarded a Bachelor of Music Degree at University College Dublin, and a Licentiate of Trinity College London. Following this he studied organ with Peter Sweeney. In 1989, Wilde undertook post-graduate studies in conducting, piano, singing and music education at The Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music in Hungary.

In 1990 he was awarded the Sarolta Kodály International Scholarship by the Hungarian government and subsequently spent a second year studying in Hungary. Wilde is a member of the examining panel for The Royal Irish Academy of Music and is Music Director of both the Enniscorthy Choral Society, since it foundation in1993, and Valda Chamber Choir - both of which are international choral competition prize winning choirs.

Wilde has travelled extensively with both choirs in Ireland, the U.K. and  European mainland. Wilde continually strives for excellence with the Enniscorthy Choral Society and is driven by the philosophy of empowering people through their active participation in music making through singing.

Enniscorthy Choral Society [ECS] is an amateur mixed voice ensemble of auditioned singers from Enniscorthy and the surrounding area. The choral society aims to encourage a singing tradition, to develop performance of the highest standards, and to stimulate greater appreciation and enjoyment of choral music.  ECS’s repertoire is varied, covering many musical periods and genres including secular and sacred classical forms; popular, modern and jazz; traditional, folk and world music; gospel; and Irish and Christmas compositions.

ECS has competed in Cork and Sligo International Choral Festivals, North Wales Choral Festival (Llandudno), Prague Cantat 2004, and performed in the International Advent Singers Festival in Vienna, Austria (2006). ECS have won many awards including a gold medal and a special award for folk song interpretation in Prague Cantat (2004), 2nd and 4th places in the Open National Competition in the Cork International Choral Festival (2006/2007). They won 1st place in both the open and Madrigal Competitions in the Arklow Choral Festival (2005/2007). ECS also won two firsts in the Gospeland Madrigal Competitions and a second place in the Sacred Music Competition Sligo (2007).

Gorey Choral Group (GCG) formed in 1977, has a proud tradition of performing a varied repertoire including sacred, secular, jazz, popular and the musical theatre. The members of GCG all share one common bond - that they love to sing. GCG takes great pride in performing at annual local community events including liturgical ceremonies at Christmas and Easter, Christmas Carol concert, and the choirs own gala concerts.

GCG has a strong track record of success at many national and international choral competitions, including Arklow, New Ross, Cork, Navan, Sligo and the North Wales Choral Festival in Llandudno. For 2008, GCG has been mostly devoted to the preparation of Harbouring.

Wexford Festival Singers (WFS), since its foundation in 1975, has performed in almost every Wexford Festival Opera. WFS have performed many of the great works in the choral repertoire including the requiems of Brahms, Cherubini and Fauré, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Stravinsky’s Les Noces.

Recent concerts featured Gounod’s Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cecile, Puccini’s Messe di Gloria (both with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra) Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle (Festival Concert 2004) and Tippett’s Oratorio, A Child of our Time (Festival Concert 2005).

In May 2006, the choir joined the National Philharmonic Choir and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the National Concert Hall for a Lyric FM concert of cinema choral classics. During October 2006 the choir performed The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins with Madrigallery (Waterford) and the Orchestra of St. Cecilia. WFS performed Haydn’s oratorio The Creation in the 2007 Opera Festival and will sing Carmina Burana by Carl Orff in the 2008 Festival.

Whisht! is a group of traditional singers from County Wexford. United by a love of songs and singing, they are driven by a desire to share their passion with a wider audience. Ranging in age from seventeen to seventy Whisht! are involved in the promotion of traditional Irish music, song and dance. Some members, also skilled instrumentalists, are involved in teaching singing through individual efforts and through projects such as Abair Amhrán ar an Sean Nós, a primary school traditional Irish singing initiative supported by the Arts Department of Wexford County Council. The members of Whisht! have not confined their talents to traditional Irish singing but have individually performed in other genres including church choirs, stage musicals, cabaret and rock, popular and country music.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra is a highly distinguished national institution fulfilling a broad remit both in Ireland and internationally. Consisting of top Irish and international string players, the orchestra has gained a reputation as a vibrant, refreshing, and influential force on the classical and contemporary music scene.

Anthony Marwood took up his post as Artistic Director in January 2006.The Irish Chamber Orchestra excels in repertoire ranging from the baroque and classical through the romanticism of Tchaikovsky and Elgar, to modern-day masterpieces by Philip Glass and commissions by Irish Composers such as Elaine Agnew, Raymond Deane, John Kinsella, Deirdre McKay, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Bill Whelan.

Most recently, it gave a six-concert tour of the United States and made its Berlin debut to critical acclaim at the Konzerthaus. It has worked with the EU accession states as well as South Korea and China. It has also visited Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and the US performing in venues such as the Wigmore Hall and the Barbican in London, the Roual Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Kennedy Centre in Washington and Carnegie Hall New York.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra’s concerts and recordings have reached a wider audience through television and radio. The Orchestra, which is resident at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, is at the heart of the emerging College of Performing Arts at the University of Limerick where an International String School offering a Master of Arts Degree in classical string performance has been established. The Irish Chamber Orchestra is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon with additional Support from Culture Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.                              

Dermot Dunne since 2001 has been based in Ireland where he combines a performing career with lecturing at the DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama. He has appeared as soloist, chamber musician and with orchestra throughout Europe and at all the major festivals and venues in Ireland including the NCH. Vicar Street, Farmleigh House, Belfast Opera House and the Ulster Hall. Last year’s performances included recitals with the Trio Arbos of Spain at the Sligo New Music Festival, with Finnish Violinist Pekka Kuusisto in Finland and Dublin at the Festival in Great Irish Houses, with the Contempo Quartet at the Galway Arts Festival, with Concorde Contemporary Music Ensemble in Spain and Ireland and with the Ulster Orchestra at the Last Night of the Proms, also broadcast on BBC television and radio.

A keen performer of contemporary Irish music, Dermot has commissioned and premiered chamber music from composers including James Wilson, Jane O’Leary, Ronan Guilfoyle, Grainne Mulvey, Benjamin Dwyer and Elaine Agnew.Dermot regularly performs music from Latin America with Argentinean Ariel Hernandez, having performed over one hundred concerts in Ireland over the past few years.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Wexford County Council
Commissioning process Open Submission
Project commission dates February 1, 2006 - May 31, 2008
Public Presentation dates June 4, 2008 - June 5, 2008
Partners Enniscorthy Choral Society, Gorey Choral Group, Wexford Festival Singers, Whisht! (Traditional Irish Singers), Irish Chamber Orchestra, Dermot Dunne (Accordion).
Artform Music
Art Practice Arts Participation
Funded By Wexford County Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 70000 - 150000 euro
Project commission start date 01/02/2006
Project commission end date 31/05/2008
Location Whites Hotel, Abbey Street, Wexford
County Wexford
Town Wexford
Street Address Abbey Street
Google Map Insert View this projects location
Content contributor(s) Sinead Redmond
Relationship to project Public Art Administrator, The Arts Department, Wexford County Council
Public engagement

This public art commission was characterised by a very rich process of public engagement through the participation of local performing ensembles Gorey Choral Group, Enniscorthy Choral Society, Wexford Festival Singers and Whisht! Traditional Irish Singers.

The performances were attended by an audience of 1,000.

It involved Public Art Administrator, The Arts Department, Wexford County Council.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

The Irish Chamber Orchestra;
Dermot Dunne, Accordionist;
Fergus Sheil, Conductor;
Eithne Corrigan, Music Director, Wexford Festival Singers and Acting Music Director Gorey Choral Society;
Donagh Wylde, Music Director, Enniscorthy Choral Society;
Liam Grant, Sound Engineer;
Mark Redmond, Lighting Engineer;
Donald MacDonald, Design.