Gavin Friday’s The Casement Sonata at The Hugh Lane

Gavin Friday - The Casement Sonata

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane is pleased to present The Casement Sonata by Gavin Friday, a sonic response to the centenary of the execution of Roger Casement in 1916 for the part he played in the Easter Rising. The Casement Sonata will be launched by Cllr. Rebecca Moynihan, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin on Wednesday 20 July at 6.30pm. The Casement Sonata will be played twice daily in the Hugh Lane in Dublin at 12pm and 3pm and runs from 21 July to 21 August 2016.

“Death is not dark, but only deeper blue…” Roger Casement 1916

‘The Casement Sonata is a long-form ambient poem exploring the life and death of
Sir Roger Casement, one-time knight of the British Empire and the establishment’s most threatening rebel spirit. By transforming the age-old argument between Celt and Saxon into a global conversation about human rights, Roger Casement upended nationalist rhetoric just as much as imperial reasoning, and set the scene for his own isolation and execution. Like Parnell and Wilde before him, Casement was a sophisticated Irishman who threatened the fabric of British hegemony and was deliberately targeted for his sexual behaviour as a reactionary countermove. Casement was a poet like several other key leaders of the Rising, but remains unique for his global profile and contemporary social relevance. Roger Casement is the Shakespearean tragic hero at the heart of the Irish revolutionary experience. The Sonata is his testament.’ Gavin Friday July 2016

The Casement Sonata

Premiered at the Hugh Lane Gallery, The Casement Sonata is a singular addition and musical enrichment of the Gallery’s centenary programme The Artist as Witness.

Working closely with Dublin poet James McCabe, Gavin Friday creates a multi-movement sound piece that captures and transfers the essence of Casement’s global odyssey. Blending sound elements from classical and ambient music with poetic rhythms across the literary tradition- from blank verse to terza rima and elegiac metre – Friday creates a new art form that follows in the long poem tradition of Irish poets like Patrick Kavanagh just as much as pop figures like Brian Eno. The Casement Sonata follows the classical structure from exposition and development to harmonic resolution – from order and disorder back to renewed balance – by selecting key moments of pressure and change in Casement’s life – his capsized dinghy on Banna Strand, his early days in Africa, his later tribulations in Peru, his wartime stay in Germany and his final prison meditations.

Casement journals

Providing a unique portal into the mind and heart of one of the Rising’s most notable protagonists, The Casement Sonata is infused with imagery and phrasing from Casement’s own journals, letters and other intimate writings and renews the lost poetic of this global Irishman for a new era. In the words of Gallery Director Barbara Dawson: “The Sonata is a significant complement to our visual programming exploring themes arising from 1916 as epitomized by paintings such as John Lavery’s High Treason depicting Casement’s infamous Trial and Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Together, sounds and images form an immersive new experience for visitors, students and art enthusiasts.”

Gavin Friday

After his critically acclaimed comeback in 2011 with the album and tour catholic, performing artist and composer Gavin Friday continues his dramatisation of outsiders in defiance with this literary musical tour de force. A well-known figure in the city for decades, he has bridged diverse media from music and painting to film and theatre.

The Casement Sonata Credits

Words – Gavin Friday and James McCabe
Music – Written and Performed by Gavin Friday – Enrico Marani – Michael Heffernan with Guest Performance from Kate Ellis on cello
Recorded and mixed at Temple Lane Studios, Dublin by Michael Heffernan
Produced and directed by Gavin Friday
Photography by Barry Mc Call
Design by Redman AKA

With thanks to Barbara Dawson, Director Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Jessica O’Donnell, Collections Curator and the staff of Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.


The Casement Sonata will be played twice daily in the Hugh Lane at 12pm and 3pm and runs from 21 July to 21 August 2016.

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin1. (Google Maps)
Tues-Thurs 9.45am-6pm; Fri and Sat 9.45am-5pm; Sun 11.00am-5pm; Closed Mondays.
T. 00353 1 222550 e.