Elaine Agnew

County Antrim composer Elaine Agnew received a BBC Proms commission for double orchestra and solo flute and the premiere of Dark Hedges by the Ulster Youth Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, Sir James Galway and conductor JoAnn Falletta at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in 2012 was a huge success, one reviewer describing it as “compelling from beginning to end.”

The Irish Chamber Orchestra opened their concert at the Konzerthaus in Berlin in January 2013 with Strings A-Stray to celebrate the German launch of Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union.  Dublin dancer Fiona Quilligan choreographed two pieces Seagull and Statues in her new show Pas De Chat at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin.

Elaine’s many works have been performed, commissioned and broadcast worldwide by artists such as Sir James Galway, the Vogler Quartet, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, Lontano, cellists Robert Cohen and Evžen Rattay, the European Union Chamber and Scottish Chamber Orchestras, Chamber Choir Ireland, the Kaunas Chamber Choir, violinists Isabelle Faust and Catherine Leonard, pianists Angela Hewitt and Romain Descharmes and conductors Kenneth Montgomery and Jane Glover.


In May 2008, Elaine was appointed as the first RTÉ lyric fm Composer-in-Residence in association with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and her first two commissions are on the CD Hiccup: RTÉ Lyric fm commissions.  A second year's residency included an orchestral fanfare Jump Up!, a choral work Appearances and a second carol Christmas Day.  Both carols were released on lyric’s Choirs for Christmas CD.

Her works have featured at major festivals: the BBC London Proms, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, London BMIC Cutting Edge and Spitalfields, Sonorities, the Slovenian Unicum Festival, EXPO 2000 and in many world-class venues: the Carnegie, Wigmore and Royal Albert Halls, the Konzerthaus Berlin and the JF Kennedy and South Bank Centres.  She was a featured composer at the National Concert Hall’s Composer’s Choice and the RTÉ NSO Horizons Series.

Many of her works have been commercially released: Twilight and The Moon by the Irish Chamber Orchestra 'Night Moves' and Seagull by pianist Isabelle O’Connell 'Reservoir".   The Moon is also featured on the CD Music from Ireland and was presented to the visiting parties of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama during their state visits to Ireland in 2011.

Current commissions include a new work for the Boston Children’s Chorus commissioned by the Boston-based Terezín Music Foundation for a European Tour in 2015, a Music Generation Wicklow commission Mostly Me for young children and ensemble to be premiered in the Mermaid Theatre Bray in June, a short piano work Abduction commissioned by the 2014 New Ross Piano Festival and an RTÉ commission Everyone Sang to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir to be premiered on 9th January 2015 in the National Concert Hall, conducted by Andrew Litton.

Recently the combined forces of the Ulster and Irish Youth Choirs premiered Tears while I want to tell you was commissioned by the Aftermath project and premiered by violin and cello duo Zoe Conway and Ailbhe McDonagh accompanying a pre-recorded voice track of victims, survivors and displaced families effected by conflict (www.aftermath-ireland.com/music-compositions).  This piece was featured in the Oriel Centre Dundalk Gaol on 1 June as part of the Songs of War and Peace concert.


Other premieres include Gesture by the Škampa Quartet and Love is a Simple Thing, a live radio drama score for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.  The Ivernia Orchestra performed Strings A-stray in Manchester Cathedral while the Magogo Kamerosrkest gave its Dutch premiere and the Radom Chamber Orchestra gave its Polish premiere.  Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba performed Sinfonietta in Havana and Isabelle O’Connell performed Seagull on a solo tour of New Zealand and Ireland.

Elaine is an renowned music animateur, much in demand for her innovative and creative work with people of all ages within  education, community and healthcare.  With many years’ experience, this work has taken her to America, Iceland, Indonesia and throughout Ireland and the UK.  She co-programmed and managed Play, the 2011 Summer Music programme at The Ark in Dublin.  Elaine was the Artistic Advisor of Music Network's CPD Programme providing training for musicians to work in outreach settings and is currently their Learning and Participation Adviser.

In 2008 Elaine was awarded a Major Individual Arts Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and spent time in Australia with composer and mentor Elena Kats-Chernin.  Other awards include residencies at the Banff Centre of Creative Arts, the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig.  In 2009 Elaine represented Ireland at the 56th International Rostrum of Composers with her orchestral work Make A Wish.

Elaine studied music at Queen’s University Belfast with composers Kevin Volans and Michael Alcorn and then followed with postgraduate studies in composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with James MacMillan.  She also studied with Paweł Szymanski, Louis Andriessen, Judith Weir and Tom Johnson.