The Wind Player: Berginald Rash

Posted 2 weeks ago in Music

Berginald Rash is a remarkable musician, a classically trained clarinetist, born in the U.S., and resident in Ireland now for ten years, his journey has seen him celebrated for his style and command on his instrument, evidenced by his captivatingly beautiful duo record released this year with acclaimed harp player, Fiona Gryson, ‘Dathanna: Hues & Shades’. 

Over May and June, in the gorgeous peripheries of the National Concert Hall, Rash has put together a stunning series of concerts exploring the work of a diverse cadre of composers historical and contemporary. The performances will see a cast of internationally renowned musicians playing seminal classical works including Libby Larsen’s ‘Black Bird, Red Hills’, Quinn Mason’s ‘Two Fleeting Dreams’, spellbinding string quartets by Nigerian composer Godwin Sadoh, as well as works by Haitian composer Rudy Perrault and Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz, alongside canonic works from Ravel and Stravinsky.

Throughout the series, the music will be accompanied by the work of Ireland-based fine artist and photographer, Ishmael Claxton, whose work we here at Totally Dublin continue to admire, and whose work ethic we can only dream of aspiring to. 


The project is a remarkably complete and well thought out affair. How did you go about the beginning of something of this scope?

When I lived in Baltimore, a friend and I founded a nonprofit chamber music ensemble, Vivre Musicale. So I’ve been curating in this way for years. I’m very familiar with this kind of work but never had the opportunity to achieve this vision until I was in conversation with the National Concert Hall about what we could do to integrate art in a 21st century context, with all that we know and see. With social awareness, with political awareness. The advent of change across the world.

In classical music especially, conversations to be had in terms of inclusivity, diversity, equity, but also championing great music by great artists, centered around great performances and what that looks like in a 21st century context. I came up with this idea of bringing the best and brightest talent from around the world, ostensibly, to Dublin to have those conversations [together].


Can you tell me about any challenges you encountered, or perhaps that you set for yourselves in the preparations for the series?

We have a critically acclaimed Dublin based artist working with these international artists, collaborating on a really challenging program of classical chamber music, and, to prioritize building community quickly, identify our strengths and really work to showcase our best. And all of that in a really short time-frame. For example, the performance we staged on Sunday, the first rehearsals for that were on Saturday, so we worked to put together a difficult program and deliver it in 24 hours.


[The performance Rash speaks of here was the ‘Ménage à trois’ concert that introduced lauded violinist Ronald Long Jr. and brilliant pianist HyeSoo Kang to Irish audiences. All the more impressive, that in just a day they tackled a programme which featured Stravisky and Bartok performed alongside works by celebrated composer George Walker.]


Can you tell me about how you ended up working with Ishmael Claxton?

I always wanted to pair it with another artistic form. To integrate visual art with this aural tradition of western classical music. I wanted to do that with Ishmael – having worked with him for the cover art for my upcoming solo album – to showcase his work and the conversations he is creating in Ireland around it. How Dublin specifically is becoming much more diverse culturally, and what that means nationally. I wanted to bring him in to do that, and the National Concert Hall was gracious enough to see the vision, and believe the vision.

Words: Adhamh Ó Caoimh

‘From Antiquity to Modernity’ takes place in the National Concert Hall on Sunday June 16th. 

The first concert entitled, ‘Bläser’ or ‘wind player’, begins at 3pm. featuring the works of some of today’s most celebrated composers – Valerie Coleman, Jennifer Higdon, and Ireland’s David Coonan.   

At 6pm,  second concert ‘Dark Love’ explores “the thrill, risk, condemnation, and hauntingly beautiful desire of clandestine gay love”, in a programme that promises to enshrine in sound the essence of sonic yearning.

See for more details and tickets.


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