Elaine Agnew


Type of Work: Vocal/Choral
Instrumentation: Soprano, accordion, clarinet/bass and cello
Length: 14 minutes
Text: Chris Agee
Commissioned by: Concorde
Premiere: 5 November 2006, Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.


In the Adriatic is a cycle of six short songs, the texts selected from a larger ensemble of work by the poet Chris Agee.  Agee’s collection of thirteen short poems, written in 2004, deals with the aftermath of a family bereavement three years earlier and is set in and around the house they lived in on the Dalmatian island of Korcula, north of Dubrovnik.  Each song features a different combination of instruments.

In the Adriatic was commissioned and performed by Concorde in 2006 in Galway and Dublin and at the 2008 Unicum Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times:

“Agnew's piece, in contrast, is a setting of six elegiac poems by Chris Agee.  A counterpoint of coincidences, where tension and release, freshness and frustration, mingle unpredictably, amplifies the mood of inconsolable distraction.”

Michael Dungan, Irish Times:

“Antrim-born composer Elaine Agnew treads warily amidst the raw emotions of American poet Chris Agee’s In the Adriatic, poems composed following the death of his young daughter Miriam in 2001.  Whether or not Agnew actually adds anything to the cruel reality of Agee’s blunt, grieving lines, her settings for soprano, clarinets, accordion and cello find voices which complement and empathise with the poet’s various different angles and vignettes.  The result is as sad a piece of art as you’ll ever encounter.”