The spectacular new home of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick was officially launched today by An Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD. The launch was marked by a cultural celebration including performances by the Chieftains, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Rex Levitates Dance Company and by students of the Irish World Academy across contemporary, traditional and world dance as well as classical and traditional music performances.
The €20million building was specifically designed to combine the elements of research, performance and teaching by leading French Architect Daniel Cordier, who was appointed following an international design competition. It accommodates two performance workshop theatres, the Tower Theatre and the Main Theatre as well as dance performance studios, recording spaces, music performance practice rooms, seminar rooms, exhibition areas and an international research centre.
The new facility will operate as a naturally ventilated building with minimal mechanical ventilation to reduce its long-term carbon footprint. The design, which was developed in response to the ecology of the site at UL on Ireland’s greenest campus, utilised weather data from Shannon airport to understand the microclimate and to design the independent below ground plenum air supplies to the two theatres.
An Taoiseach underlined the importance of the Academy in protecting and showcasing our cultural heritage. He added “the new Academy building not only offers a place to study, examine and develop the many strands of our musical heritage but it also lets us celebrate it, and the rich and varied traditions of other cultures”.
Speaking from the launch Professor Mícheál O’Súilleabháin said ‘this building is like a poem. It has all the practicalities of a safe haven, and all the poetics of a work of art. The Irish World Academy team holds it in trust for the Irish nation and for fellow artists and scholars across the world.”
Since its establishment in 1994 the Irish World Academy has seen over 1500 students graduate from its 10 postgraduate and three undergraduate programmes. The international base of the student population continues to expand. Current EU countries represented among the Academy’s student population include Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK, Ireland. Non EU countries represented include Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Nigeria, South Africa, Japan and China. In excess of 40 countries have been represented in the fulltime student population since its inception.
The Irish World Academy offers MA Programmes in Music Therapy, Irish Traditional Music Performance, Contemporary Dance Performance, Classical String Performance, Community Music, Irish Traditional Dance Performance, Ethnomusicology, Ethnochoreology, Chant Performance and Music Education. An innovative new PhD Programme in Arts Practice commenced in Sept 2009, attracting internationally renowned performers including sean-nós Singer Iarla O Lionáird and dancer Breandán de Gallaí. Undergraduate programmes include BA Irish Music and Dance; BA Voice and Dance and Certificate in Music and Dance.