Cork School of Music Emerging Artist Of The Year to showcase in performance this weekend

We catch up with an exciting talent, Cork violinist Brendan Garde, about bringing cool sound of strings to the net
Cork School of Music Emerging Artist Of The Year to showcase in performance this weekend

Avant Garde: Brendan Garde plays for the world.

When Aloys Fleischmann formed the Cork Orchestral Society in 1938, it is unlikely that they had to spend much time thinking about putting on concerts for the whole world to see from their living rooms.

But according to Tom Crowley — current Chairperson of Cork Orchestral Society — the necessity to present concerts online means they are finding new ways to remain “faithful to Aloys Fleischmann’s wish to support and promote young musicians” and of the Society commitment to presenting Cork’s most exciting young talent to a wide audience.

Their six concert series began in January and the second programme, which goes live on Saturday, February 20, puts new talent to the fore by featuring Cork School of Music Emerging Artist of the Year, violinist Brendan Garde, accompanied by Gary Beecher on piano.

Ahead of the concert Brendan is focussing on treating it as an opportunity to bring the authentic orchestral concert experience to the internet.

“It can be nice in some situations to talk to the audience online, but for this recording, it’s going to be a replica of how a formal concert would be, if there were an audience there.”

Brendan Garde and Gary Beecher performing.
Brendan Garde and Gary Beecher performing.

Indeed Brendan has had plenty experiences of such performances as still only in his late twenties he has already enjoyed an impressive career that includes playing with numerous orchestras, including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra, performances at Irish and international festivals and winning the Weil Prize during his time studying at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester as well as the Cork School of Music Emerging Artist of the Year in 2020.

Performing a formal concert is part of that award, as Brendan continued.

“This was meant to just be a normal concert of orchestral music, however as it’s worked out there’ll be no audience. The positive out of all this is it will leave a brilliantly recorded digital asset that will be able to be accessed permanently and I could maybe use in the future; other options; more concerts; things I might not have necessarily gotten, had I done the normal concert.”

I always have the audience in mind when choosing a programme and try to show a variety of styles

Picking which music he will play hasn’t been compromised however. “There’s no difference in what I’m trying to get across, I always have the audience in mind when choosing a programme and try to show a variety of styles and different characters, music and things like that.

“I’m very fortunate to be in that position, the Cork Orchestral Society pretty much said ‘do what you want’.

“Gary and I talked about what we might do and I’ve chosen some of my favourite works that I’ve studied over the last few years, and have played a significant role in my musical development.”

Cork violinist Brendan Garde is bringing the sound of strings to the net.
Cork violinist Brendan Garde is bringing the sound of strings to the net.

The programme includes a nod to Brendan’s own Cork School Of Music experience. “The two sonatas we have selected — Brahms’ sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in G Major, op.78 and Mozart’s sonata for Violin and Piano in B-flat Major, KV 454 — I studied for the first time during my Masters with my teacher, Gregory Ellis, so it’s been nice to do those again. I suppose my main intention is to get the character of music across as best as I can to any listeners. Mozart and Brahms would have very different characters, there’s a lot of emotional depth in both of the pieces, Mozart in general would be a little bit lighter and not as poised than Brahms.”

His accompanist, Gary Beecher, also has a long connection to Brendan’s music career.

“We’ve known each other from a young enough age, I think we would have met in the youth orchestra, probably around the age of 12 — I remember we did master classes and Dublin stuff together.

“So it’s been nice to come back to working together on this, since both of us had been away. I was away in England for a few years, and when I was back Gary was then over in England and he lives very close by as well, so it was handy for rehearsing as well.”

The lockdown has had two major impacts on Brendan’s musical journey, as both a musician and a teacher.

“I don’t do much composing at all myself, but it has given me time to play because I’ve always had my own personal goals with violin playing like trying to get to the highest level I can get to.

“So it’s given me a chance in a way to step back and focus on things that I really wanted to focus on. I graduated about a year ago and I started teaching pretty much immediately after that.

“I was actually lucky enough. I was given a few students from a colleague of mine, and I’m still taking on more. I’ve always been very interested in the way the violin and music works, and wanted to talk about it and pass on any knowledge that I had to younger students. I really do enjoy passing on that information. Like everyone and everything, I’ve been doing it all online so that’s been a little bit of a challenge, but I’ve been enjoying it still.”

  • The concert, recorded at Curtis Auditorium, will be available from 6pm on Saturday, February 20, and will remain online for a month on
  • for further recordings or teaching information.

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