Alas Awake

International Literature Festival Dublin | May 21-24 2015 | 13 North Great Georges Street, Dublin 1 | book now!

"I worked a lot with poetry and literature in the past number of years but for Alas Awake I wanted to work differently, treating the text as another strand of musical information. It's often remarked that Finnegans Wake works best when read aloud, and it's this musicality of Joyce's language which draws people into this incredible yet often avoided masterpiece."

Drawing on contemporary choral work, collage, improvisation, live electronics and installation this ambitious project is an abstract homage to one of literature’s great works of abstraction. The acclaimed composer and performer Seán Mac Erlaine presents a new site-specific setting of Finnegans Wake for improvising choir, woodwinds, electronics and film.

Presented as a theatre-style promenade piece, audiences will be led through an abandoned Georgian residence in a heightened environment conjuring the world and epoch of Joyce's Dublin.

These innovative artists will work with the poetic elements of the book, without an overt attempt to translate the text, creating an atmospheric sound-and-image world both immersive and beautiful.


Clarinets, electronics, composition, concept: Seán Mac Erlaine.
Vocals: Dorothy Murphy (leader), Georgia Cusack, Sue Rynhart and Tuula Voutilainen.
Film: Donal Dineen | Lighting: John Crudden | Produced by Jen Coppinger.

"Mac Erlaine's performance is uniquely sensitive, with his ear constantly attuned to subtle changes in pitch and expression. Conceived as part installation, part performance the result is a refreshing sense of innovation. Audience members were led through the house, complete with video installation, light design, live improvisation, ambient electronic instrumentation, and four vocalists, with lyrics culled from the Wake by Mac Erlaine" ~ James Joyce Quarterly, 2016.


Dorothy Murphy is a contemporary vocalist/composer, currently based in Dublin.  She studied in classical and jazz traditions and received a diploma in performance from the Guildhall, London. She taught for 10 years at Newpark Music Centre, Jazz degree programme. 
Dorothy has performed with Seán Mac Erlaine,  Louis Stewart, Ronan Guilfoyle,  Francesco Turrissi, Hugh Buckley and international musicians Dave Liebman and Jens Winter. She has performed on radio and television including a live performance for Lyric FM and at festivals including Cork, Sligo and Derry.
Her album ‘Calling,’ which she composed for voice, woodwinds, cello and bass, was released to critical acclaim.

Sue Rynhart studied Music at NUI Maynooth, where she obtained a BA and MA in Music. While studying voice part-time at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with Virginia Kerr, she was awarded a tuition scholarship on the way to completing her teaching diploma. She is a teacher of vocal technique, rhythm reading and sight singing on the Newpark Music Centre Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance course. Sue has premiered works by George Higgs, Simon McHale, Donal Mac Erlaine, and the Irish Composers Collective among others. In performing with Dylan Rynhart's Fuzzy Logic Ensemble, she has sung with international artists, Rick Peckham, Tom Arthurs and Florian Ross and performed at Bray, Dublin, Galway and Cork Jazz Festivals. She can be heard on her own album 'Crossings' (Songs for Voice & Double Bass), Abigail Smith's 'Fall into Silence', two albums with Fuzzy Logic Ensemble; 'New Hat' and 'Mouthpiece', and has also performed on BBC Radio with the Choir of Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin. Sue's critically acclaimed debut album 'Crossings' which will be re released on 3rd of June 2015 was nominated Best Jazz Album in the Irish Times Ticket Awards 2014.

Tuula Voutilainen is a Dublin-based singer and performer with an eclectic range of experience in classical music, vocal improvisation, and theatre.  As an improvising vocalist, she has collaborated in multi-disciplinary performance projects with composers Roger Doyle, Trevor Knight, and Hugh O’Neill among others, and with vocal improvisation trio Voices, which she co-founded with Dorothy Murphy and Sue Rynhart.   She has performed internationally, touring in Europe, Scandinavia, U.S.A, U.K, and Ireland with the improvisation and folk rock collective United Bible Studies and Christ Church Choir, with whom she has also recorded several albums, and has performed on TV and radio on RTÉ, BBC, RAI and YLE.  Locally, she has performed at local festivals, including Dublin Writers’ Festival, Dublin Theatre and Fringe Festivals, and Dublin Electronic Arts Festival.  In 1996 Tuula obtained a Masters of Music Degree from Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, and moved to Dublin.

Georgia Cusack.

Donal Dineen is an Irish radio presenter, photographer, film maker and former television presenter from County Kerry. Until recently he presented an assortment of electronica and world music on his Small Hours late-night radio show on Today FM.
As a curator, Dineen has worked on several musical series, most significantly A Month of Sundays, which was devised with The Model Arts and Niland Gallery Sligo in 2006 and evolved into a touring series in 2007. In November 2009, he curated a mini-festival called Fresh Air which profiled his selection of the most exciting and experimental sound makers working today.