Conducting through life with my best friend – Music

The moment the three year old boy entered the room, he heard a piece of music… it filled his little being with wonder and amazement and physically affected him in a positive way. This music was the Scherzo from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and this little boy was Vincent Kennedy.

‘I know -looking back- that the effect of this wonderful music on me was extraordinary and the way my physical, mental and spiritual elements received it showed that I was particularly tuned into music, some might say ‘wired’ for music’ Born and raised in Dublin city, Vincent was a very curious child; always trying to discover how things worked. ‘I loved sport and I was very competitive, trying to be first in everything. I learnt some limitations but also perseverance and giving my best until the very end.’

Hearing tunes in his head he thought were normal and everyone else similarly experienced this. Only when he wrote one of the tunes down (at the age of 15) and it was played by musical friends did he realise that what he had done was not ordinary. ‘That was the moment I knew I was a composer and this was the path I would follow. (…) Music changed my life and it can change the lives of others. Music has been a faithful friend: always there to uplift, distract, colour and comfort. I write music to enrich life and take my inspiration from many sources and possibilities, like a bee using the nectar of different flowers to produce a unique honey. So the message in my music is that wherever you come from and from whatever circumstances, there is beauty and love in music and so much to discover.  The best music makes you dream, takes your cares and troubles away for the time you are listening to it and can sometimes have a longer lasting effect.’             

LSA: Vincent Kennedy you have received a lot of awards since very young age, it is all very impressive- let me list few of them:  Creative Ireland Award winner; IAYO Award for “The Happy Prince”; Row Man Of The Year award 2013; RTÉ Music Prize winner; Feis Ceoil Winner – Senior Trumpet (3) and Junior Trumpet; You are a performer, conductor and composer. When did you start your music adventure – who introduced conducting to you?

VK: When I was seven years old, I took my first formal music lessons beginning with the Recorder. One of the teachers at my primary school had decided to start a concert band and, after learning Recorder for two years, I chose to play Trumpet simply because it was the only instrument I knew a little about. It so happened that in that time and place a lot of my friends turned out to also be gifted in music and one way I can judge how good we were is that when we were aged  fourteen, our band won the Irish National Band Championships at the first time of entering and against ten other adult bands.  I had won the under 18 national music competition, Feis Ceoil, when I was twelve years old and then the over 18 or open competition when I was fourteen. I would go on to win this competition three times before I was aged eighteen (after which the rules were changed so that a person could only ever win the competition once.)  In addition, when I was twelve; I became the youngest member of the Irish Youth Orchestra.  From an early age therefore I was in ensembles with very fine and successful conductors.

 LSA: You have achieved so much so far, you have incredible talent and experience, what is your biggest dream?

VK: When I have recorded with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra I want to begin a series of concerts in Ireland and then travel abroad conducting the same program of my music. Wherever people appreciate my music, I hope to go.  I have been so busy creating and performing  my music that to date I have not had time to record most of it. I am beginning the process of three recording projects over the next three years. The second one will be to do a recording of “The Happy Prince” with my co-writer John Nee who will act and narrate his retelling of Oscar Wilde’s beautiful story to my music.  This show has captivated audiences any time we have performed it and I think it is a universal story of love and sacrifice. Beyond that, my biggest dream is for a world of peace and love, a world of hope and honesty, where each is free to choose their own destiny.

 

LSA: Are you working on any projects at the moment?

VK: Yes, on 13th March 2022 I conduct the premiere of “Colmcille – Dove of Peace” a musical suite I was commissioned to compose to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the Irish saint Colmcille (Latin Columba). I am also completing music with the title “Dingle Starry” inspired by Dylan Thomas’s poem “Fern Hill” for the Ensemble Telyn Cymru consisting of over 70 Welsh Harpists. This work will be premiered at the World Harp Congress to be held in Cardiff in July 2022. In the coming months, I plan to complete a solo Violin piece for the brilliant French Violinist Marie Canctagrill and a celebratory piece for the Rathfarnham Concert Band Society in Ireland. Through my collaboration with colleagues as part of my membership of the Three Essential Elements, I will also write a clarinet quintet for the London based ChamberMusicBox, a piece for the ancient Greek Lyre for Nikos Xanthoulis, set a poem by the poet Stiggas for the contralto Luciné Aproyan and a new piece also for The Cuarteto de Clarinetes Vert (Clarinet quartet from Valencia, Spain). In addition, I will continue my wonderful collaboration with the brilliant Brazilian Ballerina and Film Maker Juliana Rodrigues and prepare scores of my music for a recording I will conduct with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra later in the year.  I also plan to perform with Marina Cassidy – Soprano and Harpist- my setting in ten songs of “The Canticle of Creation” by St Francis of Assisi (Italy) this summer.  This music was commissioned by the Franciscan Community of Ireland and Marina and I have, to date, been touring throughout Ireland.

 

LSA: Thank you so much Vincent, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

VK: Thank you for reading and supporting the beautiful work of LSA.  Be true to yourself. Be kind.  If you would like an entry point into my music, then I suggest the following; “Dreams” for Solo Violin and Orchestra

Interview By Agnieszka Kowalczewska 

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