What is BAN BAM?
A play on ‘bean’ (bahn) the Irish word for ‘women’, BAN BAM is an initiative from IMC which began in 2017 with the aim of supporting and developing the work of women and gender minority artists in jazz and improvised music, with the hope of achieving a more gender balanced scene in the future.
Through research activities, mentorships, a festival, commissioning new work, and a dedicated podcast, the BAN BAM programme has developed to be an important and impactful part of IMC’s activity.
BAN BAM Commission & Development Award
In 2020, IMC partnered with their peer organisation in Northern Ireland Moving On Music to launch a BAN BAM commission and development opportunity for female and gender-minority artists across Ireland.
Applications are assessed by a panel of carefully selected music industry professionals.
In 2023, the partnership launched a second round of the commissioning and career development opportunity for female and gender minority composers in jazz or improvised music, living on the island of Ireland (North and South).
Each BAN BAM awardee is commissioned to create a brand new work, and receives 12 months of bespoke creative and career development support and consultation from IMC, MOM, and selected industry professionals.
Raised in Ohio, and based in Derry, saxophonist, vocalist and composer Meilana Gillard is praised by critics for her passionate and fiery story-telling improvisations and her robust tone. Her RBG Trio with bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Kevin Brady has played widely across Ireland and internationally, and are working on a debut album.
Meilana said: "It is truly an honour to have been chosen to represent Northern Ireland as a recipient of this great award and in such talented company. I am so excited and grateful to be able to premiere new works for the RBG Trio and to do so with such incredible support from Moving on Music and Improvised Music Company."
Bianca Gannon is an interdisciplinary composer and improvisor, who weaves together her extensive training in composition, improvised music, piano and Indonesian percussion. Her works are often immersive, multi-sensory, and investigative with social commentary. Exploring parallels between seemingly disparate concepts, Bianca is motivated by that which connects us.
Bianca said: "These types of initiatives play a crucial role in addressing the gender imbalance in composition, jazz, improvised music and performance. It's an honour to have been selected and to be among such fine company, representing diverse and innovative creativity and musicality. Without this commission, I don't think I would otherwise have the chance to push myself into the unchartered territory in my proposal. I'm excited for this growth spurt."
London-born pianist, saxophonist and composer Carole Nelson has been based in Ireland since 1986, and currently lives between the River Barrow and the Blackstairs Mountains, a landscape which inspires her music. Her current piano trio project has released two albums of her compositions, to critical acclaim.
Carole said: “Gratitude to IMC for giving me this support and affirmation of my work. It means a great big smile as I look ahead to 2023.”
2021 Commission Films
The 2020/21 selected composers - Úna Monaghan, Sue Rynhart, & C.V. Lunny - wrote new works which, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, took a different turn in their final presentation, and were developed into site-specific filmed experiences, premiered at the Irish Film Institute in April 2022.
Úna Monaghan's work 'And the Goals will Come', for harp, bassoon, percussion and hurler comes to life in Co. Kilkenny, where the love of hurling is a tangible presence.
C.V. Lunny's work 'currents' explores the push and pull of emotion, electricity, water, and their interaction - against the background of the former Pigeon House power plant, Poolbeg.
From Smock Alley Theatre, the weight of history and literature saturates Sue Rynhart's piece, based on Charlotte Perkins-Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper'.
"Forging an exquisite midpoint between delicate and forceful, jazz and classical, as well as contemporary and canonical sonic realms, her emotionally-dense avant-garde craft rewards an attentive ear and repeated listen." -The Thin Air
Dubliner Sue Rynhart has been crafting her unique and captivating blend of neo-folksy, jazz-laden, classically-inspired original music to international critical acclaim, stemming from her groundbreaking work as part of Dylan Rynhart’s 10-piece Fuzzy Logic Ensemble. Her songs, both soulful and severe, are a fine fusion of the avant-garde and the emotive. Sue is currently creating new work as a recipient of the BAN BAM Commission & Development Award which will be performed in 2021.
Listen for hauntingly beautiful vocals, narrative & evocative song-writing, and a soundworld at once ancient and modern.
"...Lunny travels back and forth between single and dual voices, mournful and dramatic melody, trance-like mellowness and boldly defined rhythms, lyricism and dissonance." – All About Jazz
C.V. Lunny is an improvising violinist, violist, vocalist and composer with extensive performing, touring, and recording experience in contemporary, classical, improvised, and folk music. A member of Yurodny and Fovea Hex, they frequently perform with Ireland’s leading new music group Crash Ensemble, solo as a free improviser, and in free duo with Izumi Kimura. A fascination with consciousness, groove, and the social realities of music drives their compositional curiosity.
Listen for a startling palette of string sounds, minimalistic textures with unrelenting groove, and casually virtuosic passages in service of a visceral expressiveness.
“Her debut album ‘For’ finds her pushing, with considerable elegance, against the boundaries of the harp repertoire... juggles harp improvisation over electroacoustic textures to atmospheric effect... A beautifully crafted, intelligently assembled and altogether rewarding album.” - Songlines
A winner of the competitive BAN BAM Commission & Development Award in 2020/21 Úna Monaghan is a harpist and sound artist from Belfast. Monaghan examines the intersections between Irish traditional music, experimental music practices, improvisation and interactive technologies. She frequently mixes electro-acoustic textures and ambient sound recordings with traditional tunes and harp improvisations.
Listen for a new prism on Irish traditional music, darkly expressive sound worlds, and harping expanded with electronic sound art for something you’ve never heard before.
BAN BAM Podcast
In 2020, IMC Creative Producer Aoife Concannon produced a 10-episode BAN BAM Podcast exploring creative work from inspiration to execution, through conversations with a host of women working in jazz and creative improvised music.
The series offered insight into different musicians’ approaches to the creative process and their work over the course of a career, along with deep-dives into some particular works, inspirations and areas that define them.
The series opened in conversations with the three awardees of the BAN BAM Commissioning & Development Award 2020/21 - Sue Rynhart, C.V. Lunny & Úna Monaghan - about their process in creating their new pieces.
The BAN BAM Podcast looks at diverse perspectives on music and musicians’ careers - the interplay between music-making and disability, music and parenthood, music and academic careers, and the many ways in which musicians make and perform music.
The first public-facing BAN BAM activity was a one-day festival in November 2017. Read about the programme and activities below.