Interview: Kath Gorman & Crash Ensemble

Crash Ensemble - Photo by Laura Sheeran
The G-Man speaks to Crash Ensemble and Cork Midsummer Festival's Kath Gorman ahead of their early morning Blackrock concert.

The below is an extract from an interview published in Cork's Evening Echo on 11th June 2015.

Few eateries feature world class music collectives as a breakfast option but Crash Ensemble have always tasted a little different. Considered one of Ireland’s foremost contributors to contemporary music, the Dublin-based group’s latest project will take place at Blackrock Observatory at the ungodly hour of 5am, the early rise compensated by the fact that breakfast in The Castle restaurant is included in the ticket price. Occurring on and as part of the closing day of this year’s Cork Midsummer Festival, guest curator Kath Gorman explained how one of the festival’s flagship events came to light.
"The experience will be multi-sensory, with all the unique elements lending to a truly unique experience - something which will only be added to by the breakfast afterwards in the restaurant!"
“I went to see Crash Ensemble in the National Concert Hall as part of the Bang on a Can marathon and, quite simply, they were incredible. Of course we immediately wanted them involved in this year’s festival but they had already performed at Cork Opera House and the Everyman Palace so we got to thinking about doing something site specific, something that would bring in a whole new audience. We talked about what could be feasible based on unavoidable practicalities such as budget etc, and they came up with the proposal and the idea itself so we approached Blackrock Observatory about doing it at dawn, and they were on board straight away. The Castle restaurant was willing to provide the breakfast so it become this extraordinary event quite quickly.”

Once described as “the Irish new-music band that plays with the energy and spirit of a rock group”, Crash Ensemble performing Terry Riley’s Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector and Bryce Dessner (The National)’s Aheym as a string quartet in the most picturesque surroundings as the sun yawns the day into life will most certainly be an event, but from where did the idea itself arise.

“The concept came from a combination of the name of the festival and the name of the piece itself”, explains Jonathan Pearson, Crash Ensemble’s concert manager and democratically elected spokesperson. “Terry Riley's Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector derives from Riley [famous for launching the Minimalist movement in 1964 with his revolutionary IN C]'s whimsical notion of a ‘collector who came around every day on the planet and collected all dreams so that they could be redistributed the next day.

“The fact that it's Riley's 80th birthday on 24th June was also a factor, as there's a worldwide celebration of his music at the time, and setting it during the summer solstice sunrise in the beautiful Blackrock Castle Observatory was perfect! The fact that there's an observatory at the castle also ties in perfectly with the title of the piece.

“The second piece we will be performing is Aheym by Bryce Dessner, which means 'homeward' in Yiddish. We played Aheym before, but as the full 10 piece ensemble, in December for the Brassland weekend at the National Concert Hall.The instrumentation, style and meaning of the piece tied in very well with Sunrise..., and seeing as Bryce will be playing a large role in the Cork arts scene for the remainder of the year [curating September’s Sounds From a Safe Harbour festival], we thought it perfect to include his piece for this performance. The themes of home, summer, sunrise and the planets all seem to fit quite well together in the space in which we'll be performing, in the castle by the water leading into the harbour.”

Renowned for utilising oft misused spaces in order to conjure up magical memories for all in attendance, Cork Midsummer’s core strength remains intact with Crash Ensemble’s early outing promising to be just as individual as any previous event in the festival’s history.

“Taking people out of their everyday lives and suspending reality is a really important part of the festival”, enthuses Kath, originally from Staffordshire but now six years living in Cork having taken a prominent role in Kinsale Arts Week back in 2009. “A concert as dawn rises? YES! Fantastic! That appetite for something different definitely exists in Cork. The whole ‘‘were you there?’ is what people are hungry for aren’t they? I think it will encourage people who, for whatever reason, might not usually feel comfortable stepping inside a concert hall or arts centre to come, and be introduced to Crash Ensemble.”

Jonathan Pearson and Crash Ensemble are very much in agreement about making 21st June a most memorable occasion for everyone present. “The hope is that it will be something people will remember for a long time afterwards. We feel that these two pieces of music are a perfect complement to a sunrise at The Castle. The experience will be multi-sensory, with all the unique elements lending to a truly unique experience - something which will only be added to by the breakfast afterwards in the restaurant!”

For more on Crash Ensemble visit:

- Crash Ensemble perform Terry Riley’s Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector in Blackrock Observatory as part of Cork Midsummer Festival at 5am on 21st June
- Cork Midsummer Festival takes place 12th-14th June, 19th-21st June
- Visit for more

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