Left Behind – Songs of the 1916 Widows is a new song cycle composed by Simon O'Connor and commissioned by Irish soprano Michelle O'Rourke. Drawing on the experiences of women closely connected to the conflict, including the wives of prominent rebel leaders, O'Rourke and O'Connor have created a unique suite of compositions that offer an emotional, human perspective on a narrative that is too often told in baldly male heroic terms.
Beginning life as simple vocal/piano pieces inspired by the work of historian Sinead McCoole, these songs have been transformed with the addition of O'Connor's former bandmates from seminal Dublin indie-rock band The Jimmy Cake and the Robinson Panoramic Quartet. This small ensemble brings a volatile and dramatic energy to the retelling of the stories of Lillie Connolly, Grace and Muriel Gifford, Agnes Mallin and others.
"So much of our engagement with history is purely political, and so rarely we allow ourselves to read between the lines to find human realities" says O'Connor. "Sinead McCoole's book Easter Widows allowed us to consider the human cost, the real life narratives of the revolutionary period that we can empathise with and still understand today."
"More so than any art form, music can place us squarely in this emotional space" adds soprano Michelle O'Rourke."With these songs, we hope to give life to some of these feelings, these emotions and the sense of loss felt by many women and children left behind by men who were dominated by what they felt was a higher calling"
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