2021, Ireland’s finest contemporary musicians went on a journey to comprehend love and life from the map left by Joyce’s pen.
How does one start a tribute to the greatest wordsmith this island has ever known? The answer is obvious; stay true to the words. St Patrick’s Festival 2021 premiers an innovative evening of music and song at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) featuring the poetry of James Joyce, produced by Matthew Nolan and Adrian Crowley in collaboration with Lisa Hannigan, Sean Mac Erlaine, Kevin Murphy and Cora Venus Lunny.
James Joyce’s second and last book of poetry, Pomes Penyeach, was published in 1927. A collection of 12 poems and a tilly – making it a baker’s dozen – the book sold for one shilling (12 pennies) or 12 francs, so the poems were a penny each. Pomes is also a pun on pommes (the French for apple) as Joyce wanted the cover of the book to be the colour of his favourite apple, the Calville.
Most of the poems date from between 1912 and 1924 apart from ‘Tilly’, a re-working of his poem ‘Cabra’ which was written around the time of his mother’s death in 1903 when the family were living in Cabra. Many of the poems can be traced to specific biographical moments, but Joyce is not so much writing poems about moments in his life as using those biographical moments as vehicles for poetic ideas or images.
The project is spearheaded by Dublin based composer, curator and academic Matthew Nolan, who discovered Joyce’s book thirty years ago and has been ‘trying to find a means of expressing that world ever since’.
He enlisted the help of multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and composer Adrian Crowley to decipher this elegiac collection and an ‘astonishing musical world began to unfurl’.
Join some of Ireland’s finest contemporary musicians on a journey to comprehend love and life from the map left by Joyce’s pen.
Featuring: Adrian Crowley (vocals, piano, acoustic guitar & mellotron), Lisa Hannigan (vocals), Matthew Nolan (electric guitar), Sean Mac Erlaine (reeds & electronics), Cora Venus Lunny (violin & viola) and Kevin Murphy (cello).
Filmed by Bob Gallagher
Commissioned by St. Patrick’s Festival
In partnership with Museum of Literature Ireland and Dublin Airport