Kormac goes beyond his Big Band theory for Equivalent Exchange showcase

Over the last few years, Dublin’s St Patrick’s Festival has helped evolve Paddy’s Day beyond the usual broad strokes antics. There’ll still be plenty of shamrock face paint and skulled pints tomorrow, but the cultural aspect of the festival has risen in recent years, and as Donal Dineen told me in an interview last week: “It’s maybe the most radical festival in the country… they’re not just having the craic, and we’re encouraged all along the way to be part of that conversation.”

Dineen was commissioned by the festival to produce the film Pathways: Irish Routes to the Art of the Matter (see left) and the festival includes walking tours, theatre, debates, gigs, poetry, spoken word performances and exhibitions, including the stunning video installation Made In Dublin by Eamon Doyle, Niall Sweeney and David Donohoe, at the Complex in Smithfield.

The centrepiece of the festival is a collaborative concert on Sunday at Vicar Street, curated by electronic producer, DJ, composer and Big Band leader Kormac.


Equivalent Exchange was inspired by the Dubliner’s recent period in Bulgaria studying under eminent European composers and conductors, and the performance will surely be a an experimental left turn for fans of the soulful, brassy hip-hop, house and electronica he’s famous for at festivals.

The Vicar Street show will feature over 30 musicians including the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Kormac’s own Big Band, conductor Eimear Noone, synthpop artist Jack O’Rourke, spoken word artist Stephen James Smith, Persian classical musicians Shahab and Shayan Coohe and ArtSoul star Loah. Stephen James Smith and Loah were part of the recent Imagining Ireland showcase at the National Concert Hall, that was also a big critical hit at the Barbican in London. As an added production touch, renowned street artist Maser has provided visuals for the night – sketched in Kormac’s studio while the music was being composed.

As part of the process, Kormac has sidestepped his usual top-down production methods for a more collaborative affair – bringing artists sketches and ideas at a much earlier stage, and watching it evolve collectively into something new.

He said the show grew from an idea “to create a show by planting myself so far out of my comfort zone”, and the same might apply to curious punters who want to dodge the usual Paddy’s Day antics.

  • Kormac: Equivalent Exchange takes place at Vicar Street this Sunday, March 18. Get tickets here. For other St Patrick’s Festival events, see stpatricksfestival.ie.