The James Joyce Centre in association with the Hugh Lane Gallery

proudly presents:

Joyce’s Chamber Music: New Folkish Settings

with Gerry Smyth & Esther Smyth

1pm, Sat 5th April 2014
The Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1

Although James Joyce is best known as a writer of fiction, in his younger days he was also an aspiring poet and singer. His first publication of note was a collection entitled Chamber Music (1907), comprised of thirty-six Elizabethan-style love lyrics written during his early years in Dublin and after he moved away from the city of his birth in 1904. Though a writer by trade, Joyce had a highly-developed musical imagination, and he wrote these lyrics not as ‘poems-to-be-read’ but as ‘songs-to-be-sung’.


In the years since their first publication, many of the lyrics from Chamber Music have been set to music – predominantly in the style of the art song which Joyce himself favoured. In 2012 Gerry Smyth and Esther Smyth set and recorded all 36 lyrics. The resulting album represented one of only two attempts to render the entire suite in a consistent musical style or genre (the other was by American composer Ross Lee Finney in the 1950s).


Taking their cue from the image of the loved-up troubadour singing to his beloved accompanied only by his lute, Gerry and Esther raided the archive of folky singer-songwriters for their musical inspiration. Despite potential for elaboration, arrangements have been deliberately to a minimum: each song features just one instrument (guitar) and one voice.


Originally from Dublin but now based in Liverpool, Gerry Smyth is a musician, actor and academic who has published widely on various aspects of Irish cultural history. His daughter Esther is a musician and songwriter; she sings with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir. 


For one special lunchtime concert in the beautiful surrounds of the Hugh Lane’s Sculpture Hall at 1pm, Saturday 5th April 2014.

Tickets: Free & open to all              Booking: N/A