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Fun size jazz

Jazz musicians developing new work for kids at Fun Size Jazz this May 7th

Improvised Music Company, in partnership with The Ark, have created a performance and artist developmental opportunity for established jazz and improvising musicians to support and encourage them to explore creating work for young audiences. Fun Size Jazz consists of 4 public shows where each show will consist of three different short work-in-progress performances by the selected artists, all tied together by our resident MC, musician and director Sam Kavanagh.

Following an open call, IMC and The Ark selected six acts to take part in the project creating music performances for children. The first iteration of Fun Size Jazz takes place on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May with projects led by Mary & Katherine Barnecutt, Mike Nielsen and Filipa Quintino. These ideas will be presented in the shows as short work-in-progress performances of between 15-20 minutes duration, to young audiences aged between 4 and 12 years and their families.

It is our aim that a significant part of the value of experience for the selected artists in taking part will be the chance to test their ideas in a supportive setting and to have the chance to reflect and learn from that. To facilitate this, the performances will have a small audience capacity, and the MC will facilitate friendly dialogue and feedback between audience and performers to enhance the learning experience for all.

With artist development at the heart of the process, each of the selected artists have participated in a preparation day which provided guidance about performing for children, the chance to meet with musicians with experience in this area, and time to further tease out and rehearse their ideas ahead of the performance dates.

Young audiences is an area of music performance that remains sorely underdeveloped. Although these artists are experienced and accomplished musicians, for many of them this will be their first time performing for children. Improvised Music Company and The Ark share the belief that children deserve access to the best music and musicians and it is for this reason that we are supporting musicians to consider children seriously as audiences.

It is hope that Fun Size Jazz might provide as stepping stone towards identifying projects that could be developed further in association with IMC and The Ark for potential future Irish or international presentation.


Programme for Monday 7th May @ 2pm & 4pm


Sisters Mary and Kathrine Barnecutt have created a performance piece called Stringplay for Fun Size Jazz on Monday 7th May in The Ark. This inventive string duo will take young audiences on a playful, non-verbal journey using improvised music to express everyday experiences such as dreaming, conversation, games, friendship and travelling. Stringplay will explore the links between music and communication both as sound and song.

"I am looking forward to being creatively challenged in a performance setting, using my improvisation skills in a child-centred setting. It will be a new experience for me as musician to improvise a performance rather than in a workshop, and I am keen to investigate how this works. I'm also relishing collaborating with Mary whom I have known as a musician and improviser for a lifetime but have only had the chance to collaborate once recently. I am hoping that I will use these skills in similar platforms going forward." - Kathrine Barnecutt (violin, viola)

"I’ve recently worked extensively with contemporary dancers and am interested in bringing this experience, often using purely improvised music, to a very young audience and seeing what happens. Kath’s wealth of experience in music education and professional development is also an inspiration. We hope that the piece we create will be a starting point for lots of future collaboration.” - Mary Barnecutt (cello, double bass, Shruti box)


Acclaimed Irish jazz guitarist Mike Nielsen is developing a short performance piece called Family Sound Recipes, and will be sharing the stage with his wife Marta, 10 year old son Oskar, and 8 year old daughter Harriet. This family of musicians will improvise and create together on the spot using the sound ingredients provided by all their various instruments, as well as some live art-making as a part of the performance.

"The spark for The Family Sound Recipes concept was provided by my son Oskar (10) and daughter Harriet (8) when they decided to mark a couple of special occasions with a performance which included a solo drum improvisation and a tin whistle and drum duo improvisation. Involving different mediums as the creative output, combined by improvisatory expression, appealed to me. Consequently, I decided to incorporate Harriet’s love of painting and the narrating and musical skills of my wife Marta.

My son is always asking me “when are you going to get me a gig”! So, when this novel opportunity arose I thought that it would be great to have my kids perform at the Ark as it would provide a perfect platform to introduce improvisation within that context: by kids for kids." - Mike Nielsen


Portuguese musician Filipa Quintino (voice and twirl pipe) leads a quartet exploring the elements of water, wind and Latin swing, presenting music from her album With the Flow at Fun Size Jazz on 7th May! With Tommy Moore (electric bass and voice), John Moriarty (guitar and doublebass), Shane O'Donovan (drums)

"For the past ten years I have been working with children, facilitating music groups for 0 to 12 year olds. The ability to listen begins in the womb and as such our understanding and perception of music shapes our lives from an incredibly early stage. Creating friendly and communal spaces where children can experience music with their parents, grandparents and guardians is a true delight for me. Jazz and improvisation are my mediums and in these groups we explore - in an informal way - the ideas of learning repertoire, playing with different modes in a song, concepts of rhyme and rhythm and ultimately developing the ear. These ideas are all explored in a fun and stimulating manner with emphasis put on accessibility for the young learner. IMC and The Ark are creating this opportunity in a safe, knowledgeable environment and opening the doors for artists and educators to perform, grow and develop in new and exciting ways.” - Filipa Quintino


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