Chamber Music on Valentia is an annual festival held on one of Ireland’s most westerly points in Co. Kerry. Founded in 2014, this year’s festival took place from 13 to 16 August 2020. Across the four days, the festival celebrated significant anniversary years for composers, including Beethoven, Ernest Moeran and Turlough Corolan, as well as featuring well known County Down composer, Deirdre McKay.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s festival had to move online for the first time. Dr Mary Dullea, Director of Performance for the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, and founder and Artistic Director of Chamber Music on Valentia, wanted to ensure the festival went ahead. Nathan James Dearden, Performance Manager for the Department of Music at Royal Holloway is also the Festival Manager for Chamber Music on Valentia and worked closely with Mary as they transferred to this on-line format to create a true connection between performers and audience, with inspirational programmes and performances.
Working with international musicians and composers, this year’s festival included a host of pre-recorded performances. Some of which took place without an audience and behind closed doors in Royal Holloway’s famous Picture Gallery, amongst world-class art. Including the Thomas Holloway collection of Victorian paintings, which are housed there.
Speaking about the festival, Dr Mary Dullea from Royal Holloway said: “It had been a dream of mine for many years to start a Chamber Music Festival in Ireland. I’m originally from Cork and I wanted to find a unique location where it would serve and engage with the local community and build a national and international profile. Bringing musicians from all over the world together for a series of concerts of a rich body repertoire, each year we feature living Irish composers and present opportunities for young Irish artists, engaging with the natural environment, and making connections with new music and sound art and the impact this has on communities and the audience. This year is no different!
“Like many other live music events this year, we moved the festival online. I wanted to make sure the festival went ahead and although Valentia Island is the perfect location, as it boasts a host of venues, ranging from the seaside location of Glanleam House to The Lighthouse. I knew I would be able to find other special venues to pre-record the concerts that took place across the weekend.
“Royal Holloway’s Picture Gallery was at the top of my list. I have the pleasure of teaching in there, as well as playing numerous concerts in there myself. It is such a focal space on Royal Holloway’s campus and the scope of the room and the Art Collections are unique. For Chamber Music on Valentia to be able to pre-record in the Picture Gallery was really very special.”
Featured artists this year included Sarah Allen (Flute), Cathal Breslin (Piano), Deirdre McKay (Composer), Sarah McMahon (Violoncello), Philippa Mo (Violin), Nicola Sweeney (Violin), Eoin Schmidt-Martin (Viola) and Dr Mary Dullea’s ensemble Fidelio Trio (with Darragh Morgan, violin and Tim Gill, cello).
All of 2020’s festival events are still online at Chamber Music on Valentia, for all to enjoy, again and again.