Founded by Theo Wyatt in 1971, 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. To preserve this friendly and intimate atmosphere we now limit the number of players on the course to a maximum of 50. Non-playing partners, children or friends are a very welcome and valued part of the course, and are not included in the limit of 50.
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, encompassing not only one-to-a-part consorts of recorders and viols (which are the core of the course) but also larger ensembles with the addition of cornetts, sackbuts and other renaissance instruments, a choir, a recorder orchestra, a viol orchestra and baroque chamber music with continuo, 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.
So IRVC is a great Early Music Course, but it is also much more than an Early Music Course. The range of music played, sung and studied is enormous. One Permanent Group will 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 take advantage of the huge variety of music from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries in 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 2020 the trip will be to the tiny picturesque village of Port Oriel with its resident seals, and the opportunity of a cliff-top walk for those nimble of foot.
Some comments from the 2019 course:
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