Elaine Agnew


Type of Work: Vocal/Choral
Instrumentation: Soprano, violin, cello and piano
Length: 10 minutes
Text: Chris Agee
Commissioned by: Music Network
Premiere: 1 May 2000, Boyle House, Roscommon.
Judith Mok and Irish Piano Trio


When I first came across the poem Mushrooming by the American/Irish poet Chris Agee I was immediately struck by its stimulation of the five senses, especially in its references to smell and touch.

A busy whispering violin line introduces a melodic germ that fertilizes and awakens the music with its trills and glissandi sliding into life.  The hesitant and anxious cello provokes the stammering and stuttering of growth, though with the promise of life to come.  On entry of the voice, the presented stillness has an air of uncertainty with shimmery and ethereal textures contrasting with the smelliness and gloom of the earth’s rot.  A central energetic section pulls the text along rapidly with its irregular pulse and strong rhythmical gestures.  Whispering and pizzicato leads into a denser and more concentrated entry for the ensemble before the final decay of the music with slow descending glissandi under a reflective lyrical melody.

Mushrooming was commissioned by Music Network with funds provided by the Arts Council of Ireland for performance by Judith Mok and the Irish Piano Trio during their Music Network tour in 2000.  It was performed again during the National Concert Hall’s 2003 Composers’ Choice series.  It has also enjoyed numerous performances by Concorde, most recently at the Spitalfields Festival in London.