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“What is living and what is dead” Piano Concert by Ergodos

May 11, 2017 @ 6:30 pm

An immaculately crafted, beautiful and poignant collection of nine piano pieces, What is living and what is dead is the new album from Irish composer Simon O’Connor. Written for and recorded by the foremost young Irish pianist Michael McHale, this monumental release will be launched and performed in full for the first time at the American Irish Historical Society in New York City on 11 May 2017.

Listen to What is living and what is dead on Spotify.

Open to All AIHS Members. Register HERE

“I wanted to create something that could make a profound emotional connection with people, music that could really draw listeners inward to themselves and awaken a sense of joy in the beauty of the world around them,” says O’Connor of the 57-minute long collection, which takes it’s title from a lecture given by the late historian and social commentator Tony Judt.

“More than ever, I felt the need to create music that could reconnect every listener to an innocent sense of wonder; music that takes its joy in simple melody and delicate harmony; music that is – at it’s core – an embodiment of optimism.”

Childlike melodies are pitched against ever-changing harmonic landscapes, in a desperate plea for beauty in a world gone austere. This is a wordless political polemic that cries out for more space, beauty, slowness and understanding in a time of pessimism and intellectual voids.

Michael McHale’s recording of What is living and what is dead is now available on the Ergodos imprint.

“Simon O’Connor’s album What is living and what is dead for solo piano (performed by Michael McHale) is an hour-long meditative, introspective work that … lounges in being hard to place … [E]xtended duration and emotional directness are key to the work’s effect” – Liam Cagney, The Journal of Music

Simon O’Connor is a Dublin-based composer whose musical life began in punk bands as a young teen. Musically self-taught, he worked primarily in theatre composition before forming seminal Dublin psych-rock band The Jimmy Cake. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied with composers Donnacha Dennehy and Kevin Volans, O’Connor has for many years worked primarily in a tonal, minimal palette, writing for chamber ensembles and solo musicians. His new song cycle, Left Behind – commissioned by vocalist Michelle O’Rourke, will form the centrepiece of the Irish Republic’s International Women’s Day Celebrations in 2016.

Belfast-born Michael McHale is one of Ireland’s leading pianists. Since completing his studies at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, he has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. He has performed at many important musical centres including Suntory Hall, Tokyo; Lincoln Center, New York; Symphony Hall, Boston; Konzerthaus, Berlin; Pesti Vigadó, Budapest, and the Ushuaia, Chopiniana and Tanglewood Festivals. Michael’s debut solo album The Irish Piano was selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by critic Norman Lebrecht, who described it as “a scintillating recital … fascinating from start to stop”, whilst Gramophone praised “the singing sensibility of McHale’s sensitive and polished pianism”.

Presented with the support of Culture Ireland / Cultúr Éireann.

Open to All AIHS Members. Register HERE


May 11, 2017
6:30 pm


American Irish Historical Society


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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