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Bernadette Comac


Bernadette Comac has been experimenting with musical composition for twenty years. Born in Ireland she draws on the strong musical traditions of that country and the influences of the European avant-garde. For example, her work for mezzo-soprano and tape ‘Midnight Court’ evokes the strong correlation between the two influences. The sighs and gestural content of the score mirror what happens at a ‘keen’ (cries heard at an Irish wake). The modern aesthetic continues in ‘A text to decipher’ for clarinet and tape with an array of instrumental timbres such as overblowing, harmonics and teeth sounds. Live electronics also feature significantly in Comac’s works. She is fascinated by the sonic extensions of instrumental timbres when a variety of electronic devices are used. More recently Comac has returned to her roots in ‘A Mass For Everyone’. This is her most audacious project to date. She has taken the Catholic Mass and transferred its ritual performance to the secular world. The piece can be performed in any open space with a large group of people. Many might describe the work as blasphemous but Comac sees its collective qualities as highly significant in bringing people together in a celebratory way, thus undermining social and musical barriers which exist between people. Let the last word go to the famous ethnomusicologist John Blacking who said "I am interested in the musical character of society, the ability to make music is as natural as the ability to speak"

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