Crash Ensemble’s first concert

Our latest issue leads with an article on the Crash Ensemble as it celebrates its tenth birthday. I suddenly remembered, listening to a recent edition of Nova, which focused on Crash, that I was at their first concert in 1997.

I can recall that I attended with the sean-nós dancer and musician Seosamh O Neachtain. At the time I was playing a lot of traditional music in Dublin, but I really wanted to take advantage of the range of music available in the city. It was the fact that Roger Doyle’s name was on the programme that I attended, his being the only name I knew well, though Louis Andriessen’s music was played too and he actually attended. Junk Box Fraud by Donnacha Dennehy was also premiered at the concert.

I can remember the fun of the event. There was a lot of informal cheering throughout – not like a regular classical music concert at all – and it seemed that much of the audience knew the performers. The musicians couldn’t help smiling on stage at times.

I did feel like I’d stumbled on an interesting student circle of musicians, and even then Crash displayed the characteristics that have since set them apart – the rock aesthetic, the purposeful dissolving of any preconceptions of what new music should be, and the young energy.

It’s ironic therefore that at half-time a colleague jokingly said to me, ‘What are YOU doing at a contemporary music concert?’, the subtext being that a traditional musician was a strange fish at such events. Sensitive soul that I was, I held on to that comment as an example of something important, though what I was not sure.

Three years later that particular niggle and many other motivations went in to the setting up of JMI, where it would not be strange at all for traditional music to appear side by side with the avant-garde of composed music. And now Crash ends up on the front cover ten years after that concert. Funny how things go.

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