JAMES: Obviously most of the music in the show is Irish… but are there any other influences that have crept in?
COLM: Well, I suppose very loosely, the music in the show can be described as contemporary Irish. Most of the pieces are written by myself, and in the last 10 years in Ireland people have got very aware of being part of Europe… so you get some Greek, Flamenco… some African dance drumming… and incorporate it all. A lot of the music has to do with different pulses and its just adding more spice to the arrangements.
JAMES: How long did it take to write the score?
COLM: I did it in 3 big chunks… I joined the show 2 and a half years ago and spent 6 weeks, initially, and then I spent another 3 weeks, then another 4 weeks. Back then we had changed directors, and the director had a different idea… new characters were brought in… so they had to have music. A lot of the music is written around themes and variations, so Clare has her tune, Anton has his, Timmy has his and Rhiannon has hers, so when the boys are having the confrontation scene in act 1, you get Anton’s theme and then Timmy’s… it sets up a polarity. The very opening is the main love theme that you hear when their getting married and also when the brothers are reunified at the end. So its written very much like a ballet score in that way.
COLM: It’s all great, buy the album! Favourite… probably the funnest piece to play is Rhiannon’s dance… Clare’s dance… the band solos… because they were written just to be the music. It depends from night to night. Every so often you hear something and you think “Oh I really like that.” It sounds a bit self centred, because I wrote it! But it depends – maybe Clare would change something she does, and it makes you love it even more. The music hasn’t stayed the same for any more than 2 months. At this stage now we have quite a few different band numbers which we rotate from night to night.
JAMES: I’ve heard there’s a new CD coming out as well…?
COLM: There is a plan… what you heard tonight, maybe 40% of the music you heard tonight is new and wouldn’t have existed on the first CD, so we want to update it. We recorded some of the audio at the Albert Hall for the encores at the end, so that has the taps on from St Patrick’s Day. Tara has a new song that will be going on, as well as Rhiannon’s dances, and various bits and pieces. Its very hard to get an hour and 50 minutes of music… you either have to go into a double CD, or pick and choose. Hopefully we will have that ready end of April, because we go back to Dublin for 3 weeks and then we get 2 weeks off, so I will be working on that then. There’s 2 lovely studios in Dublin. Most of my composing is done in Sydney. I was living there, then Michael (Durkan) heard some of my work so he said, “lets go out and have lunch” then asked me what I would think about doing the music for the show. Richard, the choreographer is terrific. They both really give us an awful lot of freedom. He always has me write the music, then he choreographs to it. Which is great for me!
We are planning to do a film version of the show, shot on location as well. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have the symphonic version of the show on CD. There’s plenty happening this year!
JAMES: Which composer do you admire the most?
COLM: My lecturer who I went to college with, he’s done an awful lot of film scores. He isnt as well known as he should be. Bits and pieces… Enya… my record collection is really bizarre, ranging from Bulgrian chants to… Ray of Light by Madonna!