The collaboration between Limerick Pipe Organ Festival and St Mary’s Cathedral in the 850th anniversary celebrations of the cathedral continues, with the next event taking place on Wednesday 20th June at 8 pm in The Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick. The featured performers are Eric Sweeney, Organist and Composer, and Mark Roper, Poet. Admission is by donation at the door. All donations go towards festival costs. Thank You.   

Eric Sweeney, who celebrates his 70th birthday this year, is Organist & Choir Master at Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford, former Head of the Music Department at Waterford IT, and a prolific composer.  He began organ lessons while still a choirboy at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin studying with the cathedral organist W.S. Greig. He later studied with Flor Peeters in Belgium and, with the aid of an Italian Government scholarship, with Fernando Germani in Rome. He has given recitals throughout Ireland, both North and South, as well as in England, Sweden, Italy, France, North America and Canada. His programmes reflect a special interest in contemporary music.

He has become well known also for his organ improvisations to silent movies which include The Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, and Nosferatu. He collaborated with the rock group 3epkano for an improvisation to the 1930′s classic film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari at the Kilkenny Arts Festival in August 2011.

Since 2012 he has been collaborating with poet Mark Roper and photographer Paddy Dwan in a series of concerts featuring their work. Mark and Eric also collaborated in a series of creative writing and composing workshops for secondary schools from 2012 to 2013 that culminated in a special concert of student work as part of Waterford New Music Week in February.

Eric and Mark first worked together when they were commissioned to write a work as part of Come the Sails to celebrate the Tall Ships Race in Waterford. Their work, for massed choirs and orchestra, was performed on June 30th 2010. Mark and Eric also collaborated on an opera, The Invader.

In addition to commissions from several important organisations and festivals, Eric’s music has represented Ireland at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris on five occasions. His works have been broadcast on many European networks as well as in the USA and Canada. He will play a selection of his compositions on the night.

Award-winning poet Mark Roper will read from his latest collection Bindweed (Daedalus Press, 2017), hailed on the RTE website as “a very fine collection, surely one of the best poetry collections published this year.”  Mark Roper is an English-born poet now living near Piltown, in Co. Kilkenny. His first collection of poetry The Hen Ark (Peterloo 1990) won the 1992 Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection. He has published 6 collections since then. A Gather of Shadow (Dedalus 2012) won the Michael Hartnett Award in 2014 and was shortlisted for The Irish Times Poetry Now Award in 2013. The River Book: A Celebration of the Suir, a collaboration with photographer Paddy Dwan, was published, to much acclaim, in 2010. A second collaboration with Paddy Dwan, The Backstrand: Tramore’s Open Secret, was published in 2013. The pair are currently at work on a book about the Comeragh Mountains.

Mark is also an experienced Creative Writing teacher, and has run courses and workshops in many different settings, including schools, prisons, and senior citizen centres. From September 2002 to May 2003 he was writer-in-residence at Waterford Regional Hospital.

Organ and Poetry is a new venture for Limerick Pipe Organ Festival and as such we are really looking forward to the experience.  We hope you can join us to hear these two masters of their arts treat us to a selection of their best work.

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