President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins presided at a ceremony in the Arts Council this afternoon, Friday 16 August, to mark the election of composer Roger Doyle as Saoi of Aosdána.
The honour of Saoi is bestowed for singular and sustained distinction in the arts and, this afternoon, the President presented Roger with the symbol of the office, a gold Torc.
Speaking today, Roger Doyle said “I am honoured by Aosdána’s vote of confidence; also thrilled and wonderfully surprised.”
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 of Aosdána, which is by peer nomination and election, is open to artists engaged in architecture, choreography, music, literature and the visual arts and, currently, the affiliation has 250 members. 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. Members of Aosdána nominate and elect the Saoithe and no more than seven members may hold this honour at any one time.
The present Saoithe are: Seoirse Bodley (music) and Camille Souter (visual art), both elected Saoithe in 2008; Edna O’Brien (literature) and Imogen Stuart (visual art), both elected in 2015; and most recently George Morrison (visual art) elected Saoi in 2016. The seventh position of Saoi is currently open. Other artists who have been honoured with the distinction of Saoi include Samuel Beckett, Seán Ó Faoláin, Anthony Cronin, Mary Lavin, Francis Stuart, Tony O’Malley, Benedict Kiely, Patrick Scott, Brian Friel, Louis le Brocquy and Seamus Heaney.
The ceremony was attended by many of the artist’s colleagues and numerous members of Aosdána, including Trevor Knight, Cindy Cummings, and Raymond Deane. Also present were Arts Council Director, Orlaith McBride and Arts Council Chair, Kevin Rafter.