Michelle O’Rourke is an Irish singer based in Dublin and Berlin. Her natural sound, unaffected expressivity and technical ability make for an interpreter of rare dynamism. Michelle combines her classical training and background in Baroque music with an adventurous eclecticism and a passion for collaboration.
In recent years Michelle has been involved in the commission, premiere and touring of works by Linda Buckley, Garrett Sholdice, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, Judith Ring, Naomi Pinnock and Andrew Hamilton, amongst others. Recent activities have included the presentation of solo vocal works by Irish composers as part of the 2012 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and 2013-2014 Association of Irish Composers‘ Irish Canon series. She continues to commission new works and to collaborate regularly with living composers.
An ongoing collaboration with Irish composer Simon O’Connor has resulted in Left Behind: Songs of the 1916 Widows – a suite of songs inspired by the experiences of women associated with the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. This work offers an emotional, human perspective on a narrative that is too often told in baldly male heroic terms. Left Behind will tour in 2016, the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Tryst, Michelle’s collaboration with American vocalist Nora Ryan, drew on approaches from jazz, folk cabaret, contemporary and classical performance cultures to create richly varied performances of re-arranged and improvised music – from medieval French song to John Cage. Tryst toured in NYC in 2011 as part of ‘Imagine Ireland’, Culture Ireland’s year-long celebration of Irish arts in the United States.
Michelle has worked regularly with Ergodos, a Dublin-based music company, since its inception in 2006. She has performed for Ergodos, both as a soloist, and as part of their flexible performing group Ergodos Musicians, in Ireland, UK, USA and Germany.
Michelle is featured on several Ergodos releases, notably the critically acclaimed Ergodos Musicians releases I Call to You, inspired by music by Bach and hailed as ‘perhaps the most important record of new Irish music released this year’ by RTÉ, and Songs, featuring arrangements of diverse songs spanning more than 800 years, and featured as ‘CD Choice’ in The Irish Times. Michelle’s world premiere recordings of works by Irish composer Judith Ring are featured on the Ring portrait album, What was.
In recent years Michelle has also performed with Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s foremost contemporary music ensemble. Her dynamic vocal performance in Andrew Hamilton’s highly demanding work for Crash Ensemble, music for people who like art, at the 2012 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, was singled out for praise in The Irish Times. She recently reprised this performance with Crash Ensemble under Alan Pierson at David Lang’s Festival of New Music in the National Concert Hall of Ireland in March 2015.
In 2011, Michelle performed as a soloist with RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the Irish premiere of Credo by Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Rós. She has also performed in Ireland, Sweden and Norway with Danish indie band Efterklang as part of their Piramida Concerts tour in 2012 and 2013. Most recently, Michelle performed in Berlin and London with André de Ridder’s chamber orchestra Stargaze and US alt-pop singer-songwriter Julia Holter.
Michelle has received generous support from the Irish Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon over the past five years, including Music Bursary and Travel and Training awards to support periods of professional development.