What are the influences which shaped modern Irish composers?


A ground-breaking epoch produced a new generation of Irish composers from Gerald Barry to Jane O’Leary who looked to Europe and beyond, rather than Ireland’s inner story. This definitive documentary series maps what happened.


Cross Currents is a landmark three-part music documentary series, narrated by award-winning actor Barry McGovern, exploring contemporary Irish composers and their work. Produced by Athena Media in association with the Contemporary Music Centre and RTÉ lyric fm, the last 50 years have seem Irish composition flourish as young Irish composers look to Europe and beyond to re-imagine an Irish identity in music, paralleling many of the societal and economic shifts in post-de Valera Ireland. After the ‘nation-building’ period of Seán Ó Riada’s music and the watermark 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising in 1966, a new generation of musicians and writers sought to explore their identity within the influence of continental Europe.

There are three components - there’s the composer, the performer and the listener, and this triangle, these three components are equally important - you can’t make music without connecting
— Jane O'Leary

With the help of keynote interviews and archival footage this series brings the listener on a journey into the background of this key period in Irish music history, bringing the many musical developments, creative and personal stories to life, and linking them to the present day. Cross Currents ranges from the ‘father’ of Irish electronic music Roger Doyle to the trailblazing work of Jane O'Leary, and the musical adventures of Raymond Deane and Gerald Barry in Europe, and presents the many strands of Irish music that have shaped the development of modern composition in Ireland today.

It’s almost like remembering a dream, it’s not so easy to get a handle on because it feels like something in the ether and you’re trying to remember elements of it
— Linda Buckley, on composition