The Tutors
The Tutors
Our professional team
Next Course
Next Course
19th—26th August 2023
The Venue
The Venue
An Grianán, County Louth

IRVC 2023


As its friends and regulars know, the Irish Recorder and Viol Course (IRVC) offers a warm welcome and a unique combination of great music-making and a house-party atmosphere, set in An Grianán, a Country House within walking distance of a sandy beach on the East Coast of Ireland.

2022 was an unforgettable year for us. On the one hand we celebrated our 50th course with music-making, the unveiling of a beautiful quilted wall-hanging made by course-members, an impressive and delicious celebration cake and much more, in what one regular course-member called “the best year ever”. On the other hand, on the very last evening of the course, we learned that our dear friend and tutor, Emma Murphy, had died that very day, in hospital in London. Emma was a shining light wherever she went, and the IRVC was a highlight in her year. We marked her passing with music and mutual consolation, and we are dedicating the IRVC 2023 to her memory. We will miss her immeasurably, but we will celebrate her as she would have wished – with her own life-affirming mix of music and laughter.


2023 will see no change to the unique ethos and atmosphere of IRVC, but there will be some changes to the tutorial staff. Peter Wendland, who stood in at short notice for Emma in 2022, will be back with us: his meticulous musicianship, approachability and good humour won him many friends and admirers, and we are delighted that he is joining our team. Marion Doherty-Hayden, a long-time and much-loved tutor, has (reluctantly, and after much thought) decided to retire from IRVC. We very much hope that she will come and visit us during the week, so that we can give her the send-off she deserves. We are thrilled to welcome in Marion’s place Jenny Robinson, doyenne of the Irish recorder scene, keen viol player, and someone who, like Emma, first experienced the course as a course-member. Add in Pamela Flanagan, Ibi Aziz and Philip Thorby and you have an unrivalled tutorial team. See more about them here.

IRVC is a great Early Music Course, but it is also much more than an Early Music Course. Take the Permanent Group Session where you meet for ninety minutes each day with the same players. The range of music played, sung and studied even in this one daily session is enormous: one Permanent Group may spend its time playing on specialised Renaissance Viols (reading from original sixteenth-century notation), another will explore the latest and best contemporary music for recorder quartet, yet another plays baroque chamber music every morning. However, most will play a huge variety of music from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries, taking full advantage of the Course Library which is freely available to all course-members for use during the course.

It is not only the Permanent Groups that meet every day: there are also Non-Permanent Groups (in which you will meet a constantly changing mix of other course-members), ensembles, lectures and evening tutti sessions, not to mention the opportunity to join the choir and recorder orchestra, both conducted by Philip. A viol orchestra under Ibi meets three times during the week. Click here for a description of the daily timetable, but of course not all days are exactly the same! For example, on Tuesday evening, after the tutti session, there will be an informal concert given by the tutors. Thursday morning usually includes the “Arrangers’ and Composers’ Competition”, and on Thursday evening there is the famous Course Ceilidh: under Pamela’s instruction, and with the help of local  Irish traditional musicians, we do our best to master Irish dances, interspersed with “Party Turns”, some musical, some not… On one afternoon – depending on the weather – there will be the equally famous “Sandcastle Competition” on the nearby beach, a short walk across the fields and golf-course from An Grianán. Open to everyone, spurred on by prizes for all, and judged by newcomers to the course, this competition always shows yet another creative side to our course members.

Whether you will be making new friends or meeting up with old ones, join us as we make great music in a beautiful place with an uniquely welcoming atmosphere. Here’s to our next half century!

We limit the number of players on the course to a maximum of 50 to preserve the friendly and intimate atmosphere. Non-playing guests (partners, children or friends) help to make the course special: they are always made very welcome,and are not included in the limit of 50.

We expect to be booked up quickly for 2023, so whether you are a much-valued regular attender, an old friend who hasn’t come for many years or an equally welcome new recruit, we suggest you book early. Click here to book now.

Some comments from previous courses:

Thank you so much for a wonderful was magical!
A superb course where the great variety of music played and sung is enhanced by the standard of tutoring for both viol and recorder players.
Too many positives to list - cannot recommend this course strongly enough.
A very special course for anyone who enjoys one-to-a-part playing with the support of an excellent team of tutors.
Definitely unique and among the best courses I have experienced.

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