The Santa Rita Concerts: Jennifer Walshe


“Without a doubt, hers is the most original compositional voice to emerge in Ireland in the last 20 years.” – The Irish Times

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Jennifer Walshe is an Irish composer-performer whose riveting, dynamic and highly personal work draws on everything from invented personas, the music of everyday sounds, video games, Barbie dolls and much else.

This Santa Rita Concerts solo performance – titled THERE WAS A VISITOR – will feature material from Walshe’s extraordinary and audacious Historical Documents of the Irish Avant-Garde project, along with more recent work, all within the atmosphere of a Dadaist Halloween Séance. Expect an utterly compelling evening – in the words of the composer, “a sort of mangled faith healer experience with optional audience engagement.”

Jennifer Walshe studied composition with John Maxwell Geddes at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Kevin Volans in Dublin and graduated from Northwestern University, Chicago, with a doctoral degree in composition in 2002. Her chief teachers at Northwestern were Amnon Wolman and Michael Pisaro. In 2003-2004 Jennifer was a fellow of Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart; during 2004-2005 she lived in Berlin as a guest of the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm. From 2006 to 2008 she was the composer-in-residence in South Dublin County for In Context 3. In 2007 she was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York. In 2008 she was awarded the Praetorius Music Prize for Composition by the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur. In 2009 she lived in Venice, Italy as a guest of the Fondazione Claudio Buziol. She is currently Reader in Music at Brunel University, London.

Jennifer’s work has been performed and broadcast all over the world. In addition to her activities as a composer, Jennifer frequently performs as a vocalist, specialising in extended techniques. Many of her compositions are commissioned for her voice either as a soloist or in conjunction with other instruments. Her most recent project, Historical Documents of the Irish Avant-Garde, involved the creation of a fictional history of the musical avant-garde in Ireland. This history spans 187 years, and is housed at, the website of the Aisteach Foundation, a fictional organisation which purports to be “The Avant-Garde Archive of Ireland.”

The Santa Rita Concerts provide a unique, deeply immersive audience experience. Each evening begins at 7pm with a Santa Rita wine tasting, and a fireside interview with the artists. The performances take place at 8pm in the museum’s beautifully resonant downstairs gallery. The space is candlelit and the atmosphere highly intimate – a concentrated ritual shared by performer and audience.