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George Oakley with Naomi O’Connell

October 5, 2015 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Free Admission :

Eventbrite -George Oakley & Naomi O'Connell

Hailed by The New York Times as a “radiant mezzo-soprano,” Irish singer Naomi O’Connell made her West End debut in London starring in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play Master Class opposite Tyne Daly in 2012. The Times hailed her performance as “…spectacular,” and The Independent lauded her “…thrilling rendering of an aria from Verdi’s Macbeth.” A gifted musician and natural performer, Ms. O’Connell deftly balances her love of opera with that of art song, musical theatre and popular song with repertoire ranging from Schumann, Strauss and Ravel to Bernstein, Kurt Weill and Randy Newman. Brought up in County Clare, Ireland, Ms. O’Connell began her vocal studies with Archie Simpson and holds a BA Honors degree from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where she studied with singing teacher Mary Brennan. Ms. O’Connell holds a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma in Opera Studies from The Julliard School, where she studied with Marlena Malas and Dr. Robert White. Her recordings have been broadcasted on WQXR, BBC Three, Bayerischer Rundfunk, RTÉ Television, RTÉ Radio One and Lyric FM.

George Oakley is a composer and a featured alumnus of the Steinhardt School at New York University. He has
written four songs for soprano and piano based on Shakespeare sonnets which will be performed by Naomi
O’Connell at the Society.

Four Sonnets for Soprano and Piano
In 2009, I received commission to write music for soprano with piano accompaniment, based on Shakespeare’s sonnets. I was very excited to work on such a challenging project. My first task was to choose sonnets that would contrast with one another, both thematically and emotionally. It helped me to compose more colorful and stylistically diverse music. As a nonnative English speaker, the challenge of this commission was to work with Shakespeare’s original text, which I have always admired.

This piece is written in one movement with three sections. The first section, “Daydream”, is very slow music, written in the style of a fugue for 5 voices. The main theme is a descending scale in A-major that functions as a path into the past. The second section, “Dream”, enters suddenly without preparation. Music is fast and chromatic with no central key. The third section, “Awakening”, reflects the beginning and is based on similar material, although the texture is different. The music gradually fades away and melts down as a candle.

Sonata for cello and piano
This composition is dedicated to James Carlson. It is a program music written in three movements and inspired by Carlson’s poem. Each movement is a psychological condition of state of mind. The first movement is the struggle. It begins with a theme provided by cello that introduces a main character. After the opening, the music drowns in an intensive chromaticism and going through technical and rhythmical challenges that creates a sense of struggle. The first movement ends with dramatic finale that leaves the problem unresolved.

It took me a while to find the right title for second movement, as this movement should be a key or an answer for the problem that was introduced in the first part. Finally I found the answer. It had to be a “Prayer”. Then I had to find the appropriate musical language for this movement. I listened to a huge amount of religious music, both classical and folk, as well as medieval chants. Consequently, I realized that I should use my own, personal voice. After that I was ready to start.
The third movement was easy and difficult at the same time. It was easy because I knew from the beginning that this movement should be cheerful and victorious. There was, however, a concern: how to write this kind of “happy” music? It is always a challenge. I tried many times before without success. The solution was given by my father, who had sent me a recording of the sounds of church bells. This recording became the inspiration for the third movement.


Angelina Gadeliya – Piano

Anton Rist – Clarinet

Inga Kashakashvili – Piano

Sha Wu – Cello




October 5, 2015
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


American Irish Historical Society
991 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028 United States
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The American Irish Historical Society
The American Irish Historical Society is a cultural institution featuring a library and archive, public arts programming, and events space.
991 Fifth Avenue
New York
United States

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