The Ark & Music Network Present

Wires, Strings & Other Things

A new music show for Ages 6+ composed by Brian Irvine and directed by Wouter Van Looy.

Meet Ed, Andreea and James, three totally different people with one thing in common – they are crazy about music and sound.

Ed can usually be found in a corner, building unusual electronic instruments, tinkering with his own world of sound. Andreea plays the viola beautifully and reads complicated sheets of music as if they were fairy tales. And James? Well, James wanders a labyrinth of sound like an explorer, connecting and disrupting with his bass clarinet as he goes.

Anything can happen as they find each other and start to invent music together. What stories will they share when, with your help, they explore the magic and mystery of how to compose, perform and improvise?

WIRES, STRINGS & OTHER THINGS is a music performance that encourages you to always be curious. To listen, respond to and communicate through the sounds, music and stories that are all around you – wherever you are and whoever you are with.

Commissioned and Produced by The Ark and Music Network

Composer & Musical Director: Brian Irvine

Director: Wouter Van Looy

Performers: Andreea Banciu (viola), James Allsopp (bass clarinet), Ed Devane (electronic instruments)

Stage & Costume Design: Alyson Cummins

Video Design: Erato Tzavara

Lighting Design: Sarah Jane Shiels

Supported by the Arts Council, with project funding from Creative Europe. Additional support from Onassis Stegi.


Composer & Musical Director: Brian Irvine

Born in Belfast, Brian’s unique musical world combines the known and the unknown, the free and the fixed, the schooled and the unschooled. He is driven by a single desire to connect, disrupt, reinvent and reimagine all aspects of life, people, society, art and understanding in any and as many ways possible. Drawing on a wide range of subject matter including skateboarders, historic figures, jelly fish and films his work scurries between form and style – “I am not interested in developing a single or permanent style I simply try to connect and react to vastly complex moments as they occur using whatever means or approach I feel is real”.

His huge output includes operas, large-scale oratorios, orchestral, ensemble, chamber, solo and dance works as well as film scores and installations. Often combining and layering diverse and opposing elements, his music has been commissioned, broadcast and performed all over the world by a vast array of performers and organisations including the London Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Red Note Ensemble, Ulster Orchestra, Joanna MacGregor, Fidelio Trio and Irish National Opera, to name but a few.

He has collaborated and made work with artists from vastly different disciplines including Seamus Heaney, Willie Doherty, Paul Dunmall, Eduard Bersudsky, Netia Jones, David Holmes, Snow Patrol, Keiji Haino and Jennifer Walshe as well as thousands of groups and individuals from all dimensions of society including ex-paramilitaries, young offenders, victims of violence, special needs groups, residential homes, community choirs, gardeners, footballers, bankers, homeless associations, call centre workers and schools.

Brian has been nominated for 5 British Composer Awards (BASCAs) and has won two, he has also been awarded the BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award (with his own 13-piece ensemble) and more recently the UK’s most prestigious Paul Hamlyn Composers Award. He is Co-Artistic Director of the internationally award-winning creative production company Dumbworld, part-time Professor of Music at Ulster University and was Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra for four years. In 2016 became the first Music Laureate for the City of Belfast and was awarded an MBE for services to music in 2011.

He is Co-artisitc director and founder of the multi award winning production company Dumbworld. Most recently his opera with Irish National Opera and UK designer/director Netia Jones - Least Like The Other: Searching for Rosemary Kennedy has received widespread critical acclaim at its world premiere as part of the Galway International Arts Festival.

In Nov 2019 his projected street art opera He Did What received its USA premiere as part of the New Wave Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and in Sept 2020, Kunstfest Festival in Weimar, Germany featured and staged 7 of his street art operas back-to-back. His recent film score collaborations with David Holmes include Ordinary Love (starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville) and The Laundromat (starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, David Schwimmer and Sharon Stone).

He is excellent at doing Rubix’s Cubes but is utterly rubbish at DIY.

Director: Wouter Van Looy

The Belgian stage director and producer Wouter Van Looy is an innovative force in the international music, opera and musical theatre world. He is founder of Zonzo Compagnie which realized projects and productions in the field of music and music theatre for young audiences. Zonzo Compagnie is the driving force behind BIG BANG, an adventurous music festival for young audiences that is yearly active in 16 European cities and the Canadian capital Ottawa. BIG BANG Festival received the EFFE award in 2015 as Europe’s most innovative festival.

As stage director he recently premiered in Germany (Staatsoper Berlin and Ruhr Triennial), Switzerland (Luzerner Theater and Zürich Theaterspektakel), Mexico (Musica y Escena), France (Opéra de Lille), Portugal (Centro Cultural de Bélem), Holland (Holland Festival), Austria (Bregenzer Festspiele), Italy (Teatro Comunale di Bologna), Belgium (deSingel, Concertgebouw Brugge, hetpaleis) and elsewhere.

Wouter Van Looy is also resident stage director at the Belgian company Muziektheater Transparant.

He was nominated as best stage director in Opern Welt and was internationally awarded with the Music Theater Now Award, the YAMAward and the NOW award.

Stage & Costume Design: Alyson Cummins

Alyson’s designs for stage include: Volcano (GIAF / Attic productions); L’Amico Fritz, L’Arlesiana, Cosi Fan Tutte, Zaza (Opera Holland Park), Così Fan Tutte (Royal Academy of Music), Our New Girl; Medea (Gate Theatre), Last Orders at the Dockside (Abbey Theatre), Midsummer (Project Arts Centre/Eoin Kilkenny), Iolanta & L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (Royal Academy of Music), Thick As Thieves (Clean Break & Theatr Clwyd), The Lion in Winter (English Theatre Frankfurt), Tosca (Icelandic Opera), Gulliver’s Travels (YMT / Lyric Belfast), Sinners (Lyric Belfast), Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris (Gate Theatre), The Nativity & The Gingerbread Mix-Up (Lyric Belfast), The Nest (Lyric Belfast/Young Vic), Quietly (Abbey Theatre/Irish Rep /Public Theater NY), Fabric – Edinburgh Fringe First Award (Robin Rayner/Marlowe Theatre), Macbeth (Iford Arts), This Lime Tree Bower (Project Arts Centre/Eoin Kilkenny), The Lighthouse (ROH Linbury Studio), The Night Alive (DTF/Lyric Belfast), I Know All The Secrets In My World (Tiata Fahodzi), Pentecost (Lyric Belfast) – Best Set Design, Irish Times Theatre Award 2015, Mixed Marriage (Lyric Belfast), Heartbreak House, The Risen People, Quietly, Perve and No Escape (Abbey Theatre), Be Infants in Evil (Druid), Summertime (Tinderbox), It’s A Family Affair (Sherman Cymru), Before It Rains (Bristol Old Vic and Sherman Cymru), Pornography (Waking Exploits)

Alyson studied Architecture at University College of Dublin and trained at Motley. She was a finalist in the Linbury biennial prize for stage design in 2007.

Andreea Banciu: viola

Andreea Banciu is the violist/founder of the Contempo Quartet, Galway Ensemble in Residence since 2003 and RTE ensemble in residence between 2015 and 2019. Andreea is a lecturer in viola at the Conservatory of Music and Drama, TU Dublin and since 2019, she has been a guest leader viola with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. In 2016 she was awarded a degree of Doctor of Music, Honoris Causa, from National University of Ireland, Galway.

As a member of Contempo quartet, Andreea has won 14 International Prizes in Chamber Music Competitions (London, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Graz, Hamburg, Rome). She has performed over 3000 concerts around the world in 40 countries (in venus such as Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonic, Tel-Aviv Opera, Carnegie Hall, Gedai Tokyo, NCH).

Andreea had the honour to perform in front of great personalities (Michael D Higgins, Prince Charles, Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, Nobel Prize Winners & Hollywood Stars). She took part, as a supporting actress, in the Trop Tard film (selected for Cannes Festival) and recorded the music for Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank's Band of Brothers. Her latest album New Airs went straight to no 3 in the iTunes classical charts. Her recordings can be found on the Universal, Sony, Quartz, Deutsche Schallplatten & NMC labels. 

Since 2016, Andreea has also played in a viola and piano duo, with Aileen Cahill, and performed as part of Clifden, Fermanagh and Clonmel Arts Festivals, as well as recital series in Sligo, Omagh, Music for Galway, Sandford Church, Maynooth University, TU Dublin, University of Limerick and DCU. 

Andreea is an active performer of contemporary music and her quartet has premiered over a hundred works by Irish composers.

Ed Devane: electronic instruments

Ed Devane is a sound artist and instrument designer. Beginning his career as an electronic music producer with a passion for sound design, over the years Ed's creative practice has morphed and adapted to include elements of design, craft, education and fabrication. Most recently he has made interactive sound installations for organisations such as Science Gallery Dublin, Big Bang Festival, Galway City of Culture 2020, Science Foundation Ireland and Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny. For Wires, Strings and Other Things, Ed is happy to be returning to music performance, while simultaneously drawing from his wider creative experience as a sound artist and designer.

James Allsopp: bass clarinet

James Allsopp is a multi-award winning jazz saxophonist, clarinettist and composer from the UK. Upon completion of a BMus in Jazz performance at London’s Royal Academy of Music, James formed the electrifying quintet Fraud. The group were shortlisted for the 2007 BBC Jazz Award for best record, and in 2008 won the BBC Jazz Award for innovation, a Ronnie Scott Jazz Award for their self-titled debut album, as well as garnering rave reviews from their exciting live performances. James has been involved in many projects and releases since then including his 2009 solo album Plastic Sun, 2016’s I’m A Fool To Want You (James Allsopp Quartet), and most recently a critically acclaimed collaboration project with drummer Will Glaser which has resulted in two albums; New River Ramble and The Geese!!! THE GEESE!!!. In conjunction with working on his own projects, James has played alongside Dr John, The Last Poets, Django Bates, Polar Bear and Jamie Cullum amongst many others on stages worldwide.

In addition to performing, James currently teaches both saxophone and clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since 2014 James has been teaching the Alexander Technique at the Royal College of Music for their Junior Department, as well as giving masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music, the Grieg Academy in Bergen and for the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.

Video Design: Erato Tzavara

Erato Tzavara is a video artist specialized in digital scenography and moving image techniques for live performance. She holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in Image and Communication (photography, video, interactive media) from Goldsmiths College, London.

Tzavara collaborates with choreographers, musicians and media artists, researching the plasticity of digital image in space, the use of video design in stage dramaturgy and interdisciplinary collaborative methods for performance making. Her personal research focuses on aspects of embodied improvisation within shared virtual spaces and on expanding the theatrical experience into public space. Next to her artistic work, she has been working for many years in interdisciplinary education, designing and delivering multimedia workshops and performances for children, vulnerable groups and adults. She is co-founder of Athens based GNOUS! AV group, which uses animation, collage, experimental music techniques and improvisation. She has co-presented new media and performance work in festivals, theatres and art spaces in UK, Canada, Greece, Germany, France, Portugal, India, Brazil, Norway and others. She currently lives between Athens and London.

*Proof of full vaccination or else a recovery from COVID-19 certificate in the past 6 months is mandatory for patrons over the age of 18 to attend this performance. A valid form of ID is required to check certificates.*