Brian Irvine Inaugural Belfast Music Laureate

Award-winning composer and master collaborator to lead several large-scale projects in 2015

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council have announced award-winning composer, conductor and producer, Brian Irvine, as the first ever Music Laureate for Belfast.

ACNI and BCC established the role of Belfast Music Laureate to undertake a series of artistic duties and activities over the coming year. During his tenure, Irvine will engage the people of the city in music through several large-scale community orientated performance projects working alongside Dumbworld, a unique creative production company led by Irvine and writer/director John McIlduff.

In collaboration with other artists and performers, Dumbworld creates original, contemporary artistic work including opera, film, installations, large-scale events and publications. One of Dumbworld's most memorial projects was Nest, a sound installation piece for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Councillor Nichola Mallon, Lord Mayor of Belfast, commented: 'Belfast has a rich and varied musical heritage, from the harpers of the 17th century through to more recent ambassadors such as Ruby Murray, Van Morrison, James Galway and the increasing number, and quality, of musicians and bands making headlines and enjoying success in the international marketplace.

'The appointment of a music laureate at this time justifiably highlights this breadth and depth of talent and hopefully will not only serve to highlight the richness we enjoy at the moment but also, through the associated outreach programme, inspire a new generation of artists and musicians to develop and evolve.'

Irvine was born in Belfast in 1965. His body of work reflects an obsessive love of music creation in all its forms and includes operas, orchestral works, large-scale oratorios, installations, film, theatre and dance scores as well as ensemble, solo, chamber works. His music is a highly personal concoction of punk, improvisation and contemporary classical.

Irvine has been commissioned by many international orchestras, opera companies, theatres and has toured extensively with his own 12 piece ensemble, He has won a number of awards for his music including British Composers Award for Opera and the BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award.

His opera Postcards from Dumbworld was shortlisted for the Irish Times Opera Award (2011) and his BBC Radio 3 commission Secret Cinema was nominated for a BBC Radio 3 Listeners Award (2011). Rain Falling Up was also shortlisted for a British Composers Award (2012).

'I am truely delighted to be appointed as Belfast's first Music Laureate,' added Irvine. 'Music is important stuff. It is central to how we communicate as human beings – it has the power to change how we think, how we feel, how we connect and it can illuminate possibility far beyond its sonic boundaries.

'Belfast has a uniquely visceral musical energy and I am proud to be a product of that. I very much look forward to working with a diverse range of people from the city in a series of new dynamic and challenging music projects.'

One of the first in a series of Music Laureate projects, Things We Throw Away calls upon those with a love of singing to get involved in a specially created community choir, which will produce five short operas to be performed in various unusual spaces across the city of Belfast.

The community choir will bring people from all walks of life together to rehearse in the glorious surroundings of City Hall, and applicants don’t need any experience of singing at all – just gallons of enthusiasm and a focus firmly on having fun. All the hard work will be showcased in a major performance in spring 2015.

Ciaran Scullion, ACNI head of music, commented: 'In this role Brian will bring music to all the people of Belfast, reflecting the creativity and character of this vibrant city. Brian is an innovative, masterful composer and musician and I wish him every success and look forward to following him and his epic projects in his time as Belfast’s Music Laureate.'

For those interested in getting involved in the projects of Belfast’s Music Laureate visit the Dumbworld website over the coming weeks.