Artist and musician Irantzu Agirre completed a residency with Skimstone Arts in 2018.
Irantzu was one of four artists awarded residencies in the summer of 2018, each responding to the theme of ‘celebration’, as Skimstone Arts marked its 10th anniversary.
Irantzu is a native of the Basque Country and studies the harp at Julliard School of Music and Music Education at New York University. She is a multi-award winning musician and an advocate of new music, and is currently working on a multi-arts project and experimental harp performances.
During her residency, Irantzu worked with people who attend the St Anthony’s Day Centre in Walker, leading a workshop which resulted in attendees writing and recording music and words on the theme of ‘merriment’. Their work then formed part of Irantzu’s performance at Skimstone Arts’ 10th birthday celebration event.
Experimental performances by Irantzu took place at a number of events throughout her residency, including performances of Chanson de la nuit (1927) by C Salzedo, and Technicolour for Harp and Electronics (2008) by A Negron.
“Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be an Artist in Residence at Skimstone Arts,” said Irantzu. “It has been an incredible experience for me: getting to know Skimstone Arts, working with the talented Young Artist Collective, meeting and seeing the art of The Penthouse and Martim Dinis and working with the Ensemble and the people at St. Anthony’s. I was happy to be able to perform four times in a week for different audiences. Being surrounded by all of you has been truly inspiring.”
Irantzu added: “I want to express my gratitude to COMA for providing me with the music scores for Four Minutes Four Daydreams by P. Burnell. I deeply thank you composer Paul Burnell for writing Robot Picking Blackb’ries for me, the solo harp piece I premiered as the beginning piece of Merriment.”
Claire Webster Saaremets of Skimstone Arts said: “Irantzu brought a different and exciting level of instrumental expertise and attention to improvisation. Highlights were seeing Irantzu talk about how the harp creates sound to participants in St Anthony’s Day Centre, and a follow-up session of experimental sound making with wires and contact mikes, inspired by The Penthouse. Irantzu also challenged our ensemble musicians to perform with her a complex experimental piece by composer Paul Burnell and ‘Merriment’, her own thematic approach to our celebration.”
Callum, guitarist with Reality Boots and Young Artists Collective member, said: “Working with Irantzu was refreshing because there weren’t any rules to making the music, like being in the proper key or time, I think she was all about feeling the music rather than playing the music. When I play in the future I won’t worry so much about the rules, I’ll try to be in tune with rest of the people I’m playing with.”
The residency was supported by Arts Council England’s Elevate fund.