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Crash Ensemble Presents Morton Feldman Concert at IMMA

Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s leading contemporary music group, will perform two of Morton Feldman’s most memorable works, Rothko Chapel and Words and Music for Samuel Beckett, at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Sunday 30 May 2010. The ensemble will be joined by the widely-praised National Chamber Choir and two of this country’s leading actors – Barry McGovern and Owen Roe – for the final concert in the Morton Feldman Concert Series organised to coincide with IMMA major exhibition, Vertical Thoughts: Morton Feldman and the Visual Arts. The exhibition, which continues at IMMA until 27 June, focuses on the formative connections between Feldman’s life and work and that of the many legendary visual artists with whom he was associated, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston

One of the most powerful and moving expressions of this association can be found in the choral masterwork Rothko’s Chapel, composed as a tribute to Feldman’s close friend Mark Rothko, for the dedication of the chapel in Houston, Texas, which houses 14 paintings by Rothko. The chapel and paintings were commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil as a place for contemplation and meditation.

Feldman described the rarely-performed Words and Music by Samuel Beckett as a collaboration between “the words man and the notes man”. As with many of Beckett’s works, there has been much debate as to its meaning. The work centres round themes of love, the face, age and music. Two characters, Words and Music, work together and against each other producing songs, musical interludes and lyric poetry. They are joined by Croak, who exists somewhere in between sound and sense.

Crash Ensemble was founded in 1997 by composer Donnacha Dennehy, conductor and pianist Andrew Synott and clarinetist Michael Seaver.  Since its first sold-out concert in Dublin in the autumn of 1997, the group has attracted enthusiastic audiences for its particular blend of music, video and electronics. The group is interdisciplinary in outlook, and considers its sound engineers, technicians and video makers as much a part of the enterprise as the musicians.

Crash has commissioned or premiered works by many leading composers including Gerald Barry, Gavin Bryars, Raymond Deane, Donnacha Dennehy, Stephen Gardner, Michael Gordon, Andrew Hamilton, David Lang, Terry Riley, Jurgen Simpson, Gerhard Stabler, Jennifer Walshe, Ian Wilson and Kevin Volans. It has worked directly with all these and other composers such as Louis Andreissen, Gloria Coates, Roger Doyle, Michael Maierhof and Steve Reich. Since 2002, Crash has hosted three contemporary music festivals, attracting international composers and performers to Dublin to collaborate with Irish colleagues. Just back from their US Tour and collaboration with the Dublin Dance Festival, Crash Ensemble’s upcoming events include a recording for Nonesuch Records and the world premiere of a new work by Donnacha Dennehy, commissioned by Grammy award-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw, to be performed in October 2010.

The exhibition Vertical Thoughts, is built around Feldman’s twin passions for music and the visual arts. These came together in his involvement with the New York School of artists, poets and musicians, which was active in the 1950s and ‘60s and was linked, especially, with the emergence of Abstract Expressionism and so-called Action Art.  In 1967 Feldman curated an exhibition entitled Six Painters in Houston, Texas, which presented the work of Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

The IMMA exhibition takes Six Painters as its starting point and builds on this by showing other examples of the six artists’ paintings, which display similar qualities, and works by other artists who were equally influential in Feldman’s work, including Francesco Clemente, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and many others. It features artworks from Feldman’s former collection, as well as from several of the world’s leading galleries, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery, Washington, and Tate, London. It also presents music scores, record covers, photographs and documents. A number of Oriental rugs, formally owned by Feldman, which function in a similarly inspirational way to the Abstract Expressionist paintings, are also being shown.

Also on Sunday 30 May, at 3.00pm, IMMA will present a keynote lecture by the composer Dr Bunita Marcus on the relationship between Morton Feldman’s music and the visual arts. Admission to the lecture is free, but booking is essential at /en/subnav_50.htm

The concert takes place at 8.00pm on Sunday 30 May. Tickets €20.00 are available from

For further information please contact Monica Cullinane at telephone +353 1 612 9900 or email [email protected].

18 May 2010

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.