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 is an important year for us, and we would like to share it with you. The Covid 19 pandemic has led to many events being cancelled and postponed over the last eighteen months, including IRVC’s half-century celebrations. Purists may debate whether we should be celebrating our fiftieth year, or our fiftieth course – and in which year. But frankly, we don’t care! The course was founded by the late great Theo Wyatt in 1971, and we all missed out its Golden Jubliee in 2021, so we have decided that next year – 2022 – will be our not-to-be-missed Half-Century Celebration.
Even though it is such a special year, we will still be limiting 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 2022, 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.
COUNTDOWN TO IRVC 50!
As part of our celebrations, four of the IRVC’s tutors will present a countdown to the course – four Zoom events, one every two months, starting in the New Year, culminating in the fifth and most important event – the course itself. Each Zoom workshop will include a chance to chat (and share a virtual drink with!) the tutors as well as past or future course members, but all these virtual sessions are open to everyone – you don’t need to have signed up for the course to attend them. You will be invited to donate a minimum of £5 (or €5) per event.
Click here for details of the programme and how to join in.
Regular attenders will not need to read this, but if you are coming to us for the first time you may like to get a taste of what we offer. From start to finish, IRVC is different. On the first afternoon those members of the course who have already arrived at An Grianán turn out to welcome the chartered coach which has brought old friends and new from Dublin Airport. On the last morning those course members who have not overdone the last night celebrations again gather in front of the house to wave off the coach with cries of “see you next year!”. In between the welcome and the farewell is a week of music and craic. Central to the music are one-to-a-part consorts of recorders or viols but you will also play (or sing if you like to) in larger ensembles sometimes alongside cornetts, sackbuts and other renaissance instruments. Then there are smaller baroque chamger groups with continuo, consort songs, verse anthems and much more. Depending on your interests, you are welcome to join the choir (under Philip Thorby), the recorder orchestra (Marion Doherty-Hayden), or the viol orchestra (Ibi Aziz). Each day is rounded off each evening with a glorious tutti session, often taking the form of a large-scale polychoral masterpiece for voices, recorders, viols and renaissance wind instruments – at least that is when the organised events end. For many there is more music to be explored in informal groups or it is off to the bar (craic is an important part of the course too!).
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.
Click here for a description of the daily timetable, but of course not all days are exactly the same! 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. Wednesday afternoon sees an organised visit to a local place of interest – and there are many to choose from, from coastal beauty-spots and stately homes to prehistoric sites. In 2022 the trip will be to the historic site of the Batle of the Boyne.
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!
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