Artists, Organisations

Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble to perform at global classical music showcase in Berlin

13th May, 2024

Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble, based in Belfast, are the only group from Ireland, North or South, to have been chosen from over 200 hopefuls to perform a showcase concert at Classical:NEXT in Berlin on 15th May 2024. The ensemble, currently in their 11th season, will have the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the incredible creative work happening across Ireland at the moment, performing in front of over 1000 leading industry professionals, concert promoters and fellow musicians at Classical:NEXT, one of the world’s premiere classical music conferences.

A group of six musicians standing in a doorway with their instruments, smiling.
Belfast based Hard Rain SoloEnsemble have been chosen from over 200 hopefuls (and the only group from Ireland, North and South) to perform a showcase concert at Classical:NEXT in Berlin in May 2024, (L-R) David McCann (Cello), Joanne Quigley McParland (Violin) Daniel Browell (Piano), Sarah Watts (Clarinet) Sinead Hayes (Conductor) and Flautist / Artistic Director Aisling Agnew.

Through ongoing support from Arts Council Northern Ireland, Hard Rain has been embedded in the vibrant Irish music scene for over a decade, commissioning and performing many brand-new works in that time as part of their innovative concert seasons, giving a platform to compositional voices that otherwise would not be heard.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has seen the group go from strength to strength over the past decade, commenting, “The Arts Council is delighted to provide funding to Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble thanks to The National Lottery. Hard Rain have been an important catalyst for creativity here in Northern Ireland, and we are proud to continue our support of this dynamic, ground-breaking group as they embark on such an exciting opportunity.”

The ensemble musicians hail from Belfast, Newry, Galway and Birmingham, and with help from Culture Ireland, will travel to Berlin in May, where they will perform a specially curated concert entitled “Peaceline Perspectives: Voices from a Divided City”. The performance features three pieces of music by established and emerging Irish composers Elaine Agnew, Eduard Zatriqi and Greg Caffrey, who founded Hard Rain in 2013.

The music is interwoven with three specially created sound pieces, featuring diverse voices and stories from Belfast, underscored by soundscape. The sound pieces have been developed by the group’s conductor Sinead Hayes in collaboration with Robert Coleman and Georgios Varoutsos, who are based in SARC: Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Sound and Music at Queen’s University Belfast.

Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble’s Artistic Director Aisling Agnew is looking forward to the chance to share the ensemble’s work with a global audience, commenting: “This is an amazing opportunity for Hard Rain to put the creative work of our composers and musicians in the spotlight. By bringing music and voices together in this performance, we want to create a unique listening space, drawing on our shared commonalities, while challenging our audience to hear the music in new ways and contexts.”

Sharon Barry, Director of Culture Ireland, who are supporting the project, said: “We’re very pleased to support Hard Rain’s appearance at Classical: NEXT in Berlin next month. I’ve no doubt that it will lead to further international opportunities for this vibrant ensemble.”

The performing musicians are Joanne Quigley McParland (Violin), David McCann (Cello), William Curran (Clarinet), Daniel Browell (Piano), Sinead Hayes (Conductor) and Flautist / Artistic Director Aisling Agnew, who adds: “We are indebted to Arts Council Northern Ireland and Culture Ireland for their ongoing support of our work, and for helping us get to Classical: NEXT in Berlin in May. Our aim is to bring our work, and this music to audiences all over the world, and we are very proud to have the chance to perform at such a prestigious event.”

The six musicians will travel to Berlin for the 4-day showcase, which runs from 13-17 May 2024. Hard Rain will perform in a concert at the Säälchen, Holzmarkt in Berlin on Wednesday 15th May at 9pm.

Ahead of their showcase at Classical:NEXT 2024, Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble will give a short preview performance of “Peaceline Perspectives: Voices from a Divided City”, at 5pm on 12th May at the Sonic Lab, SARC in Queen's University. For more visit