George Higgs is a composer and writer. His musical work includes opera, symphony, compositions for small ensemble, music for experimental theatre, work for installation and a number of HIGGSTRUMENTS which he has designed for the performance of certain compositions. His music has been performed across Ireland, in Russia and the United States and he has received numerous awards and honors including a grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Director's Prize from the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, numerous Arts Council awards and a MacDowell Fellowship. He holds a PhD from Trinity College Dublin and is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland.
His writing includes two novels, a straight play, hundreds of poems, 3 opera libretti, and scripts for his many musical installations. He is currently working on his third novel. _________________________________________________________
CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINKS TO FIND ME ON:
In Search of . . .
It will soon be 25 years since the guerrilla opera, Kahoogaphone, premiered in the New Theatre Dublin. Told through 15 memorable songs, this is the story of a homeless man who invents an ingenious machine designed not to work, aka the Kahoogaphone.
Starting in October, 2023, I will release one song per month from this work, culminating with the release of the whole album for Christmas, 2024.
See the Kahoogaphone social media links above for regular updates.
CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINKS TO FIND THE ALBUM ON:
This new album's 11 songs were originally conceived as multisensory compositions based in part on collaborations with deaf and hard of hearing Irish Sign Language (ISL) users over 5 years (with funding from Arts Council Ireland and the Irish Research Council).
To be a bit more specific, from 2016 to 2021 I worked in different settings with deaf participants to create gestural rhythms: patterns of upper-body movements with a pronounced visual and tactile musicality. I then used these gestural rhythms as motifs (much like I'd use lyrics to write songs) to develop multisensory compositions for live performance. To give an example of what I mean by multisensory, The Sense Ensemble, Study 2 was a work which involved live ISL signing with audience interaction, smoke ring cannons, and a scored work for string quartet. Watch “The Sense Ensemble, Study #2” and/or have a look at the photos below to get a clearer idea.
In this photo from Sense Ensemble, Study #2, we see George and fellow performer Neimhin Robinson fire vortex cannons, sending smoke rings wafting over the heads of the audience to the back of the auditorium.
In this photo from Sense Ensemble, Study #2, we see George and fellow performer Neimhin Robinson performing a rhythmic pattern of Irish Sign Language gestures which the audience were invited to mimic.
The Irish Sign Language Alphabet
The works on this album are of course only revised versions of these live multisensory pageants, and my attempt to capture the experience as well as I could in an audio format. I took pains to emphasise tonal aspects that would 'speak' to deaf audiences, even through audio speakers: sharp percussive textures and deep full-bodied bass, to name only a few.
I hope you enjoy hearing/seeing/feeling them as much as I enjoyed creating them.
ALBUM RELEASE FROM EARLY 2021
This album of 10 short and powerful instrumental pieces blends the textures of organ, piano, percussion, banjo and guitar with the lesser-known tones of the glass harmonica. Each song in this rich and imaginative collection has a distinctive character, ranging from the danceable and upbeat (Janet Dreams of Juniper) to the slow and plaintive (Songs My Father Never Heard). Between them you'll also find fairground tunes (The One and Only Magnifico), musical tales of adventure (The Great Salty Island), dark and brooding gems (Mindlessness), and even a suite of Covid Mutations (numbers 1 to 3).
There's a broad and exciting range of styles here . . . something for everyone.
CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINKS TO FIND THE ALBUM ON:
Music in a 2 KM Radius
I was commissioned by an Arts Council Covid Response Award to compose a piece of music based on recordings I made within a 2 kilometre radius of my home in Ardmore, County Waterford, Ireland during lockdown in April, 2020. Like many, my family and I experienced our immediate environment with much greater intensity during that period. I hope the piece conveys my sense of this unique time, which seemed a monumental meeting between the global and the local.
Listen to "Music within a 2 Km Radius"
The sound of bird song and waves during lockdown. (photo Ansel Adams)
I’m currently finishing my third novel. Entitled Kahoogaphone, it’s based on a guerrilla opera I wrote and composed in 1999.
An early version of the The Kahoogaphone. (drawing by P Hannan)
Please refer to the 'works' section of this website for a comprehensive list of works, as well as audio and video samples of his work.