A concert of short works for piano

Monday, 15 June 2020 | 7.00pm – 7.30pm

When thinking about the music I would like to share with you in this Festival, I found myself focusing on short solo piano pieces that I have been busy investigating, learning and playing during the last couple of years. I have selected 9 short pieces which I hope will take you on a little journey through these focused miniatures.

Mary Dullea
International pianist and Director of Performance at Royal Holloway, University of London

Part 1

The first piece is aptly named ‘Summer Waltz’.It is one of Michael Zev Gordon’s Diary Pieces from 2015 and features on my recording of his chamber and solo piano music, released last year on Resonus Classics.  In the summer of 2015, Michael set himself a task of writing a short piece every day.  These daily exercises became the collection, Diary Pieces.  This is followed by a complete contrast but from the same set of pieces, ‘Grilli’.

Mary Dullea

Part 2

Last year I was invited to perform at the wonderful ‘Finding a Voice’ Festival in Clonmel, Ireland.  This is a relatively new festival (founded in 2017) that focuses exclusively on music by women composers through the ages.

2019 also saw the 200th anniversary of the birth of remarkable pianist and composer, Clara Schumann.  To celebrate this, ‘Finding a Voice’ commissioned 6 new ‘Reflections on a theme by Clara Schumann’ by Irish composers for me to perform.  The ‘theme’ was the opening of the scherzo movement of Schumann’s Piano Trio, with which we opened the concert.

The 6 composers did very different things with this theme as you can hear, one of them even incorporating some props such as a mobile phone (which you can’t see!) and a bell, reflecting on and imagining Clara in the busy and demanding Schumann household, juggling so many roles. 

This features music by (in order of appearance): Siobhan Cleary, Jane O’Leary, Amanda Feery, Anna Murray, Marian Ingoldsby, Rhona Clarke

Mary Dullea

Part 3

The final piece I have chosen is by David Fennessy.  David presented this piece to me in 2009 when he was one of the invited composers at ‘Soundings’, an annual Austrian-UK exchange between composers and performers that I curated at the Austrian Cultural Forum London from 2008-2016.  This particular piece is broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3 and RTÉ Lyric FM.

As David writes in his programme note:’ I wrote this piece for the poet and playwright Tom McGrath, who died earlier this year. I don’t want to say “in memory of” because his spirit still seems very present to me. Lingering in the resonance of the repeated piano chords you might be able to make out some of the Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations; a piece which fuelled Tom’s unbridled imagination’.

Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy much more from this wonderful Festival Interrupted!

Mary Dullea

About the creator

Mary Dullea

As soloist and chamber musician, Irish pianist Mary Dullea performs internationally at venues including London’s Wigmore Hall, Casa da Musica (Porto), Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Phillips Collection Washington D.C., Symphony Space New York City, Palazzo Albrizzi Venice (Italy), Johannesburg Music Society and National Concert Hall Dublin. Festival appearances include City of London, Cheltenham, St. Magnus International Festival, Huddersfield, Aldeburgh, Sound Scotland as well as Lodi Festival (Italy), TRANSIT Festival (Leuven) and National Arts Festival (South Africa). Her frequent broadcasts include BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, RTHK, RTÉ Lyric FM, WNYC, Radio New Zealand and Sky Arts, Irish, French, Austrian and Italian television. Concerto appearances include RTÉ Concert Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mary’s CD releases include on labels NMC, Delphian Records, Resonus Classics, Altarus, Col Legno, MNR, Naxos, Lorelt and Divine Art. Recent collaborations include premiere recordings of Philip Glass for Orange Mountain Music and projects in 2018 include a second instalment of French piano trios for Resonus Classics, a Gerald Barry portrait CD for Mode Records and the release of Marlacoo by Simon Mawhinney.

A sought-after interpreter of new music, Mary’s expansive repertoire covers the standard piano literature as well as an ever-increasing amount of 20th- and 21st- century compositions, many of which are dedicated to her. Her piano trio, Fidelio Trio, are passionate advocates for piano trio repertoire around the world. Constantly commissioning new works, composers that the Trio have worked closely with include Johannes Maria Staud, Gerald Barry, Donnacha Dennehy, Joe Cutler, Judith Weir, Kevin Volans and Charles Wuorinen, to name but a few.

Mary was the curator of Soundings (an annual UK/Austrian collaborative new music festival) at the Austrian Cultural Forum London from 2008 to 2016. She has served on the jury of ‘Schubert und die Musik der Moderne’ International Chamber Music Competition in Graz, Austria. In 2014 she founded ‘Chamber Music on Valentia’, an annual chamber music festival in Co. Kerry, Ireland, with the aim of bringing chamber music performances of international standing, innovative programming and outreach and engagement programmes to this unique place.

Mary’s own studies were at The Royal College of Music, London on the Edith Best Scholarship, Goldsmiths, University of London (MMus in Contemporary Music Studies)and her PhD in Performance is from Ulster University. Mary was on the piano faculty of Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for 9 years. She previously held the position of Director of Performance at the University of Sheffield and since 2015 she has held this position at Royal Holloway, University of London.