Doyle elected Saoi of Aosdána

President Higgins admires the gold Torc on the head of composer Roger Doyle at Friday’s ceremony.

By Irish Echo Staff

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins praised the “exceptional body of work” of composer Roger Doyle at a ceremony last Friday to mark his election as a Saoi of Aosdána.

The President presented Doyle with the symbol of the office, a gold Torc. The honor of Saoi is “bestowed for singular and sustained distinction in the arts.”

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Doyle said in a statement beforehand, “I am honored by Aosdána’s vote of confidence; also thrilled and wonderfully surprised.”

Only seven Saoithe (plural) may hold the honor at any one time. Twenty have been awarded the honor since 1981, including Samuel Beckett, Seán Ó Faoláin, Anthony Cronin, Mary Lavin, Benedict Kiely, Brian Friel, Louis le Brocquy, Seamus Heaney and Enda O’Brien (a current Saoi).

Aosdána was originally established in 1981 to acknowledge artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland and assist members in devoting their energies fully to their art practice. Membership, which is limited to 250, is by peer nomination and election, and is open to artists engaged in architecture, choreography, music, literature and the visual arts.

Members must be (or have been) resident in Ireland for five years, and must have produced a body of work that is original and creative.

Doyle’s latest recording for Heresy Records is “The Heresy Ostraca” (2019), a reworking of music from his electronic opera, “Heresy,” which premiered in Dublin in 2016.

The 70-year-old composer is the subject of a 2018 full-length documentary by director Brian Lally, “The Curious Works of Roger Doyle,” which premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh and has subsequently been featured at the Irish Film Institute and Cork Film Festival.

Doyle said in an interview in July, “If you look in the 'What's On?' section in the newspapers, you see pop music pages, cinema pages, pages for jazz and folk music, but under classical you'll see two concerts - maybe Beethoven for one of them and a choral concert. That's terrible when you think of all the fabulous work that's being made in this country by many composers. They're not getting the attention they deserve I believe.”

In the same interview for, he said, “I get up in the morning, I start composing. It's something I love doing. It makes me happy. That's what it is: composing makes me happy. This sounds crazy. I have a need to compose and I need to fulfil that need more than I used to do in the past.”