The art of imagination


 Gesamtkunstwerk – means “total art work” where all artforms come together to make one integrated artistic experience.

Through 2016 and 2017, the senior members of the Julianstown Youth Orchestra created a ground-breaking new artwork, Gesamtkunstwerk in collaboration with a team of leading professional creative artists.

Playing in an orchestra is an amazing experience that demands phenomenal levels of concentration and teamwork. Yet sometimes the creativity of the individual can be submerged in the overall performance. Through this project JYO sought to unleash the imagination of each participant. Unlike traditional orchestral performances, there was no fixed seating, no conductor, no rules!

Gesamtkusntwerk falls into a category of its own. It’s part concert, part theatre, part dance, part comedy. Members of the orchestra composed ten new orchestral pieces under the mentorship of celebrated composer Brian Irvine. These ten works became pillars around which the inventiveness of the orchestra was unleashed. During and between the pieces the orchestra created dramatic scenarios involving narration, staging, choreography etc. In many cases the orchestra performed from memory and moved throughout the stage as they performed.

This concept of “orchestral theatre” is something never previously encountered. This was a voyage into the unknown. The aim was to capture and showcase the imagination of all the young participants. The result was a one-hour theatrical performance that was at times comical, thought provoking and poignant.

JYO prepared Gesamtkunstwerk for a world premiere performance on March 5th 2017 at the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan as part of Solstice’s 10th anniversary programme. Subsequently the orchestra recorded the ten pieces in Ireland’s leading recording studio, Windmill Lane.

The orchestra collaborated with director John McIlduff, choreographer Jessica Kennedy, set and lighting designer Sarah-Jane Shiels and costume designer Clodagh Deegan. RTÉ Contempo quartet mentored the musicians and the entire project was overseen by JYO  music director Fergus Sheil.

Gesamtkunstwerk was funded by The Arts Council under the Young People, Children and Education Programme Activity Fund. It was also supported by Meath County Council Arts Department and it was sponsored by BlackRock Investment Management, Ireland.