Jennifer Walshe’s “work is flooded with human beings and objects, with teeming life in all its complexity – messy, funny, disturbing, joyous. (Journal of Music)

Award-winning Irish composer and vocalist Jennifer Walshe creates music that is impossible to categorize, incorporating explorations of video and performance art and live electronic improvisation. With imagination, wit, and more than a hint of the surreal, Walshe’s music playfully but pointedly explores the complications and complexities of the 21st century and the increasingly difficult task of separating fact from fiction.   

At the ICA, Walshe presents two recent compositions performed by the acclaimed Mivos Quartet and improvisational musicians M.C. Schmidt, of the electronic duo Matmos, and Wobbly, an experimental electronic musician from San Francisco.

Preview the performance program.

“The piece is concerned with the texture of life in 2016 – technology, incipient disastrous climate change, vast financial inequality, the “dark euphoria” of Bruce Sterling, the Anthropocene. What’s it like to live in a time when the internet is embedded in our lives at an infrastructural level in the same way that electricity or the postal system or the NHS is, but the same time we’re not quite sure what to do with it or how it works, and the way that it works is changing continually.” —Jennifer Walshe

In EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT​, Walshe considers our relationship with technology and the encroachment of the Internet on every face of life. The work is scored for voice, string quartet, and film; Walshe performs with the Mivos Quartet. Everything is Important articulates a world of rapidly accumulating information that arrives at a frenetic, nearly punishing speed.

AN GLÉACHT is based on an unfinished film by reclusive artist Caoimhin Breathnach. Throughout his life, Breathnach created “subliminal” tapes and films on astronomy, folkore, crystallography, and found video footage that he believed had the power to heal and shift consciousness. The artist spent the last years of his life planning a film called An Gléach, which he left unfinished at his death. Several years later, Walshe, Breathnach’s great-niece, completed the film, which will screen at the ICA with a live score performance by Walshe, M.C. Schmidt, and Wobbly.

Jennifer Walshe biography

“The most original compositional voice to emerge from Ireland in the past 20 years” (Irish Times) and “wild girl of Darmstadt” (Frankfurter Rundschau), composer and performer Jennifer Walshe was born in Dublin. Her music has been commissioned, broadcast, and performed all over the world. She has been the recipient of fellowships and prizes from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York, the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm, the Internationales Musikinstitut, Darmstadt, and Akademie Schloss Solitude among others. Walshe has written a large number of operas and theatrical works, including XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS!!!, an opera for Barbie dolls, and TIME TIME TIME, with the philosopher Timothy Morton, which The Wire described as “a sprawling opus that spans the history of the planet… like Robert Ashley meets Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.” Her visual work has been exhibited in the Chelsea Art Museum, New York, Project Arts Centre, Dublin, and the ICA, London.

Mivos Quartet biography

The Mivos Quartet, “one of America’s most daring and ferocious new-music ensembles” (The Chicago Reader), is devoted to performing works of contemporary composers and presenting new music to diverse audiences. Since the quartet’s beginnings in 2008 they have performed and closely collaborated with an ever-expanding group of international composers representing multiple aesthetics of contemporary classical composition. They have appeared on prestigious series such as the New York Phil Biennial, Wien Modern (Austria), the Darmstadt Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Germany), Asphalt Festival (Düsseldorf, Germany), HellHOT! New Music Festival (Hong Kong), Shanghai New Music Week (Shanghai, China), Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI), Música de Agora na Bahia (Brazil), Aldeburgh Music (UK), and Lo Spririto della musica di Venezia (La Fenice Theater, Italy). Mivos is invested in commissioning and premiering new music for string quartet, striving to work closely with composers over extended periods of time; recently Mivos has collaborated on new works with Sam Pluta (Lucerne Festival Commission), Dan Blake (Jerome Commission), Mark Barden (Wien Modern Festival Commission), Richard Carrick (Fromm Commission), George Lewis (ECLAT Festival Commission), Eric Wubbels (CMA Commission), Kate Soper, Scott Wollschleger, Patrick Higgins (ZS), and poet/musician Saul Williams. Every year, the quartet additionally awards the Mivos/Kanter String Quartet Composition Prize, established to support the work of emerging and mid-career composers, and the I-Creation prize, a competition for composers of Chinese descent. Beyond expanding the string quartet repertoire, Mivos is also committed to working with guest artists, exploring multi-media projects involving live video and electronics, and performing improvised music. In addition to collaborations with the aforementioned Blake and Williams, this has led to performances with artists such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Ned Rothenberg, Timucin Sahin, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Nate Wooley. The quartet is the recipient of the 2019 Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Prize for Interpreters of Contemporary Music.


Co-presented by the Boston University Center for New Music

First Republic Bank is proud to sponsor the 2019–20 Performance Season ICA Live.

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