Spike, Dublin's alternative cello festival, will be back for its third installation Friday 8th-Sunday 10th February 2019 in venues across Dublin. After the festival's hugely successful, entertaining and innovative 2017 & 18 incarnations, the 2019 programme will present unique events with some of the most talented and exciting cello artists & friends from home and abroad.

For 2019, festival curators Mary Barnecutt and Lioba Petrie are looking to both the future and the past in their programming. Audiences will have the chance to witness some very forward-thinking performances as cellos play a computer game and combine with visually-stimulated electronics - alongside performances from an older cousin of the cello, the viol, with performances from the Dublin Viol Consort. Among the highlights of the festival will be a series of evening performances taking place across the weekend at The Workman's Club, with Ernst Reijseger, Claire Fitch, the Cello Ireland Quartet, The Devil’s Violin, Semay Wu and an open mic session, along with specially commissioned activities for younger people hosted by The Ark, including an interactive cello created by composer Jonathan Nangle.

The festival will open on the evening of Friday 8th February with a special Yocella session in the elbowroom, with Kitty Maguire leading one of her unique "Yocella" classes - a blissful "yin" yoga class accompanied by cello. Then, in the first of the evenings at The Workman’s Club, Irish games composer and cellist Claire Fitch will premiere an interactive gaming piece for cellos and a big screen, commissioned by Spike. Claire, formerly a cellist in the RTÉNSO, has been writing music and creating sound effects for games since 2003, ranging from loud action shooters to quiet and cute educational games. For Spike she has created a project which will call on two cellists to react to movements on screen, as if playing a game, to create a piece of music. After this performance there will be an open mic chance for visiting and resident cellists to perform their own works in five fifteen-minute slots hosted by the festival.

The Saturday night concert on 9th February will feature Cello Ireland Quartet (led by Una Ni  Chanainn) with special guests; Cormac Begley (concertina) and Pádraic Keane (pipes)- a unique opportunity to hear some Irish music performed and arranged exclusively for the evening. These performances will be followed by what promises to be an unforgettable encounter with world-renowned, multiple award-winning cellist and composer Ernst Reijseger, whose genres range from blues and jazz across minimalism and improvisation. Ernst has performed his work all over the world from Carnegie Hall to the Fumbally Stables, has composed for baroque orchestra Forma Antiqua (Volcano Symphony), the Dutch Wind Ensemble and Ensemble Modern, and scored films for directors including Werner Herzog. Jeff Tamarakin wrote of a Carnegie Hall performance, “His technique is superb, his improvisational skills masterful, and his compositional virtuosity unquestionable, but Reijseger’s music also projects warmth, depth, and splendor—even at its most extreme. Whether pushing the limits of jazz, world music, or modern classical—working solo or with an ensemble—Reijseger never settles for the obvious."

The festival will culminate with two exciting performances on the Sunday night, firstly Stolen, a play for adults with screens, cellos and violins from The Devil’s Violin. The Devil’s Violin create music and storytelling shows that receive standing ovations and evoke passionate responses from their diverse audience. Their new work Stolen promises to be a journey through a kaleidoscopic world of giant poppies, frozen horses and shimmering forests of silver and gold... The Times Literary Supplement described one of their previous works as an "enchantment, a work that walks the line between life and death, between what we are and what we might become; which recognises with the power of voice and the power of music, that there is magic everywhere." The same night, upstairs in the Vintage Room from 9.30pm, composer, media artist, cellist & performer Semay Wu will present her electronic and visual world. Tickets for Sunday evening are valid for both performances, and audiences will be encouraged to wander (and wonder) into Semay’s world in their own time and space.

As always, Spike will have events for all ages. There will be four performances of new work Stringplay by musicians and sisters Kathrine and Mary Barnecutt and friends, commissioned by The Ark and IMC. The inventive string duo will take young audiences on a playful non-verbal journey using improvised music to express everyday experiences such as sleeping, waking, dreaming, conversations, arguments, friendship and travelling. The Ark will also be hosting a uniquely interactive cello called The Curious Cello created by composer Jonathan Nangle. This is a free structure for anyone to come and play, ready for curious fingers to make their own cellotastic composition. Also at the Ark, Ernst Reijseger will be giving workshops in Creative Music-Making (no experience necessary!)

The Hugh Lane Gallery will be home to free performances on the Sunday afternoon. Events will commence with the Spike festival programming of the Gallery's regular Sundays@Noon Concert in the beautiful Sculpture Gallery, with The Dublin Viol Consort performing modern works and songs arranged by Malachy Robinson as well as English and Italian chamber music of the seventeenth century written for the viol - the precursor and cousin of the cello. This noon concert will be followed again by a free Cellinstallation of eight improvising cellists performing throughout the afternoon 1.15pm-5pm in the gallery foyer.

Festival organisers, cellists Lioba Petrie and Mary Barnecutt, are looking forward to presenting their exciting programme for 2019, after the previous years’ attracted audiences from as far afield as the UK and the US.

With thanks to the Arts Council, IMRO, The Ark,  IMC, The Hugh Lane Gallery and The Workman's Club.