Irish composer Gerald Barry studied in Cologne with Stockhausen and Kagel, and came to public attention in 1979 with radical ensemble works titled “________” and Ø. Gramophone Magazine said of his music, “it is at once highly formal and iconoclastic, perky and suave, sensuous and brittle…This is Stravinsky squared, cubism cubed.”
Barry has received orchestral commissions from the BBC, London’s Southbank Center, City of Birmingham Orchestra, and Musica Viva (Munich). As well, he has written several ensemble works for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and chamber works for London Sinfonietta and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Ensemble 7Bridges.
Barry has written six operas to date. His first, The Intelligence Park, was commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and premiered at the 1990 Almeida Festival. The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit opened the 2002 Aldeburgh Festival, followed by performances in London and Berlin; and a new staging in 2003 in Karlsruhe, Germany. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant premiered in 2005 in Dublin with subsequent performances at English National Opera in 2005 and Theatre Basel in 2008; the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland) recording was recently re-released. Barry’s one-act opera, La Plus Forte, was commissioned by Radio France for the 2007 Festival Présences; premiered by Barbara Hannigan in Paris, it toured to Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Miami, Toronto and Porvoo, Finland.
The Importance of Being Earnest was co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and London’s Barbican, and received its world premiere at Opéra national de Lorraine–Nancy in 2013. Two further productions were staged that year at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and NI Opera; and in 2016 it was performed with Britten Sinfonia and received its U.S. premiere with the NY Philharmonic. Earnest received a 2013 Royal Philharmonic Society Award and the recording was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award.
Alice’s Adventures Under Ground premiered in concert in 2016 with the L.A. Phil New Music Group and a distinguished cast led by Hannigan in the title role. Shortly after, the same cast presented the European premiere with Britten Sinfonia at Barbican Centre. His most recent work, Canada, for voice and orchestra, was commissioned for the 2017 BBC Proms and will be performed by Allan Clayton, tenor, with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-tyla.
Barry is Composer-in-Residence with the RTÉ Orchestras (2015-2018). He joins us at the Cabrillo Festival for the U.S. premiere of his Piano Concerto featuring soloist Jason Hardink on Friday, August 11, 2017.
Photo: Betty Freeman