Projector! New Maestro leads songwriting at UL – Kieran Beville
- Carl Corcoran (born 1952, Dublin) is Course Director for the MA in Songwriting at the University of Limerick.
He has had an interesting and varied career in this position. He went to University College Dublin. His favorite subject was reportedly music, but his parents persuaded him to study law. Shortly after starting this course, he landed a recording contract.
Carl has given concerts in folk clubs and the director of EMI Ireland stumbled upon what he considered to be the voice he was looking for – a project to take an unknown artist to send to the stratosphere of stardom.
EMI offered him a three-year / three-album contract. His debut album, ‘New Day’, featured ten original songs under a new name given to him by the record company – Jamie Stone. It was a writing collaboration with his brother Michael, the next two albums with a variety of collaborators.
In 1974, New Day won awards, including RMI’s “Artist of the Year” – the equivalent of the Choice Music Awards. Corcoran was therefore on an upward trajectory and two albums followed. The third album (1978) was released throughout Europe and presented in Cannes, where he gave concerts. Everything was going perfectly well until January 1978.
The record company had sent him on an exploratory mission to Los Angeles to see if he could have an American release. This mission was not successful and in August of the same year he was abandoned. “That’s the way it is in the music industry,” Carl says philosophically.
Corcoran is honest about this experience and admits he was damaged by it, but it made him stronger and he found the resilience to overcome the disappointment. His ability to reflect on experiences, both positive and negative, and turn them into learning encounters is at the heart of this man’s character.
However, after getting a taste of America and seeing the potential opportunities, he went to New York City in October 1978, pursuing the art / art of songwriting, knocking on doors, submitting tapes, making storefronts in Manhattan. He was stuck, which he said, “It was normal for the course.” It was a steep learning curve for Corcoran and the reality of having to make a living became clear “In order to avoid starvation,” Carl adds pragmatically.
Corcoran has become heavily immersed in broadcasting in New York. He found it to be a particularly satisfying medium as it fulfilled a lot of what he, as an artist, wanted to achieve, “There was a hum when that red light came on which was almost like going in front of it. a live audience “Carl explains.
He lived sixty miles north of New York City and needed some broadcasting experience, so he knocked on the door and was offered a program called “A Drop of the Irish” on a Saturday slot. evening. He capitalized on his connections with the Irish – Bill Whelan, Michael Flatley – who meant something to the Irish-American community. After a year, he was offered a program which was to present Irish music from the 1950s to the present day (1995).
Corcoran learned the trade during his six years of New York radio experience and it was a good calling card for interviews upon his return home, as the local radio station was a subsidiary of American. Broadcasting Company (ABC).
RTÉ Lyric FM
Carl admits that when he switched to lyrical classical music, it was a genre he didn’t know much about. He grew up loving her, but at first he felt very out of her depth. In Lyric he was in the company of people who had immense knowledge of particular genres of classical music,
“But I had great colleagues and being a musician helped me,” says Carl. He started out on a weekend slot and the powers that we felt were worth keeping. Music lovers are immensely grateful to him as he presented / organized the fabulous “The Blue of the Night”.
He had submitted his CV to RTE and in 1999 he received a phone call telling him that his name had come up for a weekend host position with Lyric on a show called “The Third Wave”. When asked if he was interested, he replied, “Absolutely, when will I start? The answer – “This weekend!”
Whoever they picked for the job decided not to honor the engagement, so they offered it to the next person on the shortlist – Carl.
Lyric debuted with the eclectic program ‘Third Wave’ on May 1, 1999. As Corcoran came from the New York radio DJ world, he had to adapt to less lyrics and more music. He immersed himself in performers and composers and admits to making “clangers” by pronouncing their names!
Carl is refreshingly humble.
The blue of the night
Carl and his wife had three children and wanted to return from America. He returned to Ireland in 1999 and joined Lyric FM (1999-2017).
During the last ten years of this tenure, Carl organized “The Blue of the Night” of which he is rightly proud. This three-hour nighttime program has earned a reputation as a must-see place for great music.
He got a good response via text and email and started to conduct interviews and live sessions. Thus, he developed a relationship with both the audience and the participants. He is now using this to his advantage as a course director for the Masters in Songwriting at UL. He calls on the people he has defended to reciprocate by coming to his students to talk about their songwriting process.
The road to UL
On the evening of his retirement from RTE, he was approached and invited to consider joining the academy as a course director. Corcoran had ties to the academy since its inception, through broadcasting and he had a great ally and colleague in the late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin the famous musician, composer, scholar and educator. Carl said, “He was my mentor, my inspiration and my earthly psychopomp.” It was he who persuaded Corcoran to do a master’s degree in community music.
When the offer to join the academy arrived, Carl had no idea what he could do, so he grabbed it. The course is now in its fourth year.
Listening to Carl, one gets the impression that he feels lucky in his career. He readily admits that he has not really planned a career path but that he took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves to him.
Nonetheless, he had worked to develop and hone his skills and reputation. Being the founding course director makes perfect sense for this man who ticked all the right boxes. Carl explains, “Songwriting cannot be taught, but it can be learned by observing, imitating and researching your unique voice. He specifies: “Students must have a strong desire and some songwriting experience to enter the course. They must also be persistent.
In a world where virtually anyone can download their music, the songwriter has to outrun millions of others in one way or another – to get noticed, for this song to feature on Grey’s Anatomy, The Wire, etc. Music supervisors are the key to success. They are the link between the artist and the point of sale. Carl Corcoran has the ability to communicate well in the music industry. He has connections and is willing to network for the benefit of his students.
As a successful and unsuccessful songwriter in the music business and someone with significant broadcasting experience, he is uniquely placed to lead such a course. This is a one-year master’s degree that introduces all of the academic rigors one would expect from a postgraduate program.
The number of participants is low but this is how it should be for the dynamics of the course.