In a rare treat for the ears and eyes, a perfect marriage of sound and architecture, the 6th of December 2015 saw Epiphany Island hosting a live concert by the Irish composer and Second-Life performer, Dainial.
Dainial’s extensive composition, “The Found Dream of Childhood”, was first heard in The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life in December 2014. It was inspired by and written for the Cathedral, but Dainial’s return performance on this occasion was marked with poignancy as a commemoration of his father.
Slipping back and forth between English and Irish language, Dainial warmly greeted the avatars, faces old and new, who had gathered in the pews to hear him. He shared a little of the childhood memories of his father and explained how the work was also originally accompanied by a reel of 8mm film shot by Conradh na Gaelige, an organisation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Irish language, and featuring three generations of Dainial’s family. Conradh na Gaelige were trying to hold back the declassification of towns as “gaeltachts” (places where Irish was the first language spoken as opposed to English).
The scene was set: Dainial’s avatar standing alone with a saxophone on the compass-rose pavement in front of the altar, lit by virtual moonlight through the high windows and flanked by a pair of keyboards. Beginning, very quietly with layers of of synthesised sound, he built a structure and gave it texture, then furnished it with the haunting effect of his saxophone, taking the listeners on a dreamlike journey over the next half an hour.
It was spellbinding. It often surprises me how the immersive sounds and environments of Second Life can create such a strong sense of place. It was easy to forget that this was coming to us (staring at pixels, with headphones on) from his home in Ireland, where Dainial and his longtime artistic collaborator, Tom Brennan, were hooked up to stream the performance. Somehow we were present to one another in the shared experience, present to Dainial and his heritage and present to our own thoughts – in my case, to evocative memories of my own childhood.
Dainial deftly brought us back in to land as the music fell silent, and his warm voice once again treated us to a smattering of Gaelic, acknowledging those behind the scenes: his friend, Wave Rodenberger, who is on the Leadership Team at Epiphany and who had organised the concert, and Tom, on the technical side. Many avatars in the audience lingered in their seats for a while after the sounds had died away.
I wondered what Dainial’s father would have made of this virtual tribute being paid to him in cyberspace. Citing his life-long passion for music, his thirst for knowledge and learning, his tendency to teach himself and his love of science, Dainial said, “I think he would have had no difficulty with the concept of Cyberspace.”
We hope to see and hear much more of Dainial’s work in Second Life in the future. He’s an experienced performer who has developed as a composer, particularly during his long association with the Music Island sim. Inworld, his group, “Dainial’s Concerts” issues periodic newsletters about new work and upcoming concerts. Hope to see you there; I’ll be in the front row.