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School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music

snow dance

Snow Dance for the Dead by Dr Seán Doherty

The world premiere of 'Snow Dance for the Dead', by Dr Seán Doherty, was given by New Dublin Voices, directed by Bernie Sherlock, at the 11th World Choral Symposium, Barcelona. Held every three years, this event draws choral singers, conductors, composers, and audiences from around the world. New Dublin Voices is one of twenty-four choirs to have been invited to perform at this prestigious event. Earlier this year, a draft of 'Snow Dance for the Dead' was the subject of a public workshop at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, as part of the Contemporary Music Centre's ‘Choral Sketches’ project, in partnership with Chamber Choir Ireland, directed by Paul Hillier, and mentored by the composer Tarik O’Regan.

Seán's piece, 'Snow Dance for the Dead' marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, which, as well as triggering four years of horrific civil war, saw the birth of ‘the Cheka’, the soviet state-security organisation and the forerunners of the KGB. The Cheka used a callous, mocking euphemism for the act of killing: ‘NatsoKal‘. It was onomatopoeia, an expression that imitated the sounds of the trigger being cocked and the gun being fired. This sound is combined with a fragment of the poem ‘Snow Dance for the Dead’, written in 1927 by the Dublin-born radical poet Lola Ridge, in which she urges little children to ‘Dance…to the rhythm of the snow’.

Seán is also a member of New Dublin Voices—see if you can spot him in this video of the world premiere at L'Auditori, Barcelona.

2nd August, 2017