Piece by Piece

During the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, Improvised Music Company and Triskel Arts Centre in Cork came together together to host a weekly sequence of online solo performances called Piece By Piece featuring newly-commissioned works from leading Irish improvisers.

The concept was to commission leading Irish-based improvising musicians to create 8 new works, in which each artist’s input performance would influence or inspire the next performance in this musical chain. Piece by piece, artists would create new improvised work, based on the preceding work. The work which these artists created was beyond anything we had imagined, embracing a digital medium and the work of the other artists to create an interconnected musical story of the world in lockdown.

‘Piece By Piece’ was an initiative to support and sustain the Irish artist community, commissioning leading improvising artists in Ireland to do what they do best, offering robust professional fees for the newly commissioned works and giving audiences a meaningful experience of creative improvised music influenced by the times we are now living in.

These eight sequential solo performances in the new ‘Piece by Piece’ series were broadcast via IMC's YouTube channel, as well as IMC's and Triskel's social media platforms on Fridays at 8pm, beginning on Friday 10th April with a ‘live’ solo performance from acclaimed guitarist and electronic improviser Shane Latimer. The series artists included woodwind instrumentalist, composer and producer Seán Mac Erlaine, world-class improvising pianist Izumi Kimura, virtuoso trombonist and composer Paul Dunlea, composer, pianist and arranger Cormac McCarthy, improvising violinist, violist and composer Cora Venus Lunny, harpist and sound artist Úna Monaghan, and a duo input from couple saxophonist/composer/producer Nick Roth and Olesya Zdorovetskavocalist, poet and composer.

Piece by Piece #1: Shane Latimer

Shane Latimer created the first in the musical chain of Piece by Piece on Friday 10th April. Rather than purely placing a concert online, Shane embraced the digital medium, creating an improvised work which included film and visuals. Shane’s visuals represented the artist’s world as Ireland locked down during the Covid-19 pandemic, following a journey around his 2km radius in north Dublin. Read Shane's reflections on his piece HERE.

Piece by Piece #2: Nick Roth & Olesya Zdorovetska

Inspired by Shane's exploration of his 2km radius, which passed by their home, Nick & Olesya ventured around their locale and home to collect words and formed them into poems which formed the basis of their work. Some musical inspiration that Olesya & Nick took from Shane included his bowing of the guitar, which resulted in Olesya's bowed cithar music. Read Olesya & Nick's reflections on their piece HERE.

Piece by Piece #3: Seán Mac Erlaine

Seán's piece opened with a gesture which combined the first three pieces - bowing. Taking inspiration from Nick & Olesya's found poems, Seán created individual 'tone poems' throughout his work. Read Sean's reflections on his piece HERE.

Piece by Piece #4: Cormac McCarthy

Cormac took inspiration from different elements of the preceding pieces and developed a number of pieces in his work. His opening piece took a theme from Seán MacErlaine, the second took the visual cue of Nick & Olesya's final ellipsis... to create the piece 'Circles'. Read Cormac's reflections on his piece HERE

Piece by Piece #5: Cora Venus Lunny

Cora spent quite some time anticipating the arrival of Cormac’s piece, due to her rural internet coverage, so this became part of her piece - with her washing machine, tumble dryer, kettle, phone, and dishwasher becoming bandmates - creating a backing track from their contributions for the first piece, ‘Waiting’. Read Cora's reflections on her piece HERE

Piece by Piece #6: Paul Dunlea

Paul's piece opened with a chord sequence from Cora's work transferred into a multi-tracked brass version over which Paul's melodies explored. Visually the piece opens in the plain, every day setting of Paul’s studio before moving into a more virtual, distorted reality represented our current predominantly online lives. Here in the later part of the piece he used a motif from Cormac, along with sounds from Olesya and Seán. Read Paul's reflections on his piece HERE.

Piece by Piece #7: Izumi Kimura

Izumi worked with videographer Cormac Larkin on the visuals, collaborating to use simple footage taken of her local radius on a phone, into a visually arresting film where the piano is always front and centre. Izumi took two small fragments from Paul Dunlea’s set (Piece By Piece #6); the closing melodies, followed by a short improvisation on the opening melody based on Cora’s harmony which he interpreted. Read Izumi's reflections on her piece HERE.

Piece by Piece #8: Úna Monaghan

Úna said “Izumi Kimura’s piece came before mine – and I was struck by the view of her hands, how we were right in her space… The music varied in energy, and was open – it made space for thought before it moved quickly and stirred action.  These are the things I responded to.” Read Úna's reflections on her piece HERE


You can find all the works in Piece by Piece in a Youtube playlist HERE

We hope you enjoy this music. IMC and Triskel are committed to paying professional fees to artists for their work. If you can help us to continue to support artists in this difficult time, please donate the price of a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/improvisedmusic

Your donation will directly fund new artistic commissions by Irish artists, allowing them to create and develop work now, to be performed in a post-covid future. Thank you for your support!