“Beside the Sea” is an ambitious and innovative work of music theatre for violinist, soundtrack and found objects that explores ideas around memory, personhood and how to evoke a life and its trajectory through music. Composer Ian Wilson wanted to make this piece since his father died in 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s; the goal is a work of art which examines how much of a role memory has in making a person and what part music can also have in that.
This piece of instrumental music is also a piece of theatre and features a solo violinist within a specially-built set that evokes a dock by the sea. The soloist acts as the audience’s guide, commenting musically on the unfolding drama in the recorded part and interacting with objects on the stage to build up a picture of the composer’s father’s life that revolved around music (such as the choir he sang in for 40 years), his wife (also a singer, and also heard on the soundtrack), sailing, and work.
Featuring acclaimed Serbian violinist Dušica Mladenović, directed by Olivia Songer and designed by Jack Scullion, “Beside the sea” is a universal and uplifting story of changing minds and bodies, of ageing, using elements of Wilson’s father’s life as found objects around which the narrative has been built. An important element is the hugely evocative soundtrack that Dušica plays along with, which the composer made in collaboration with Shanghai-based Irish sound artist Steve McCourt.
The work’s title is multi-faceted and ambivalent, referencing musical, physical, temporal, and cognitive domains.
“Beside the Sea” was created with funds from an Arts Council of Ireland Music project award.