Summer Festival Spotlight: Donnacha Dennehy

It is a privilege and a pleasure to have Donnacha Dennehy as one of the guest composers for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.  Along with fellow guest composer Steven Stucky, Dennehy will instruct and mentor the Festival’s eight resident composers during their week in Columbia.

He’ll also oversee the world premiere of the first part of The Hunger,  a large work-in-progress that will be performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound and the Festival’s guest artist, soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird, as part of the concert on Thursday, July 26.

Born in 1970 in Dublin, Dennehy is considered one of Ireland’s leading contemporary composers. He recently has earned worldwide acclaim for his 2011 album Grá Agus Bás, which made NPR Music’s list of Top 50 Albums of 2011 (in all genres), and was included in year-end best-of lists from critics Alex Ross and Paul Griffiths and in WNYC’s New Sounds top ten list of the year.

He has received commissions from musicians, ensembles and musical organizations from all over the UK, USA and Europe. Dennehy’s music has featured in festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Bang On A Can in New York, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Sonic Evolutions Festival at Lincoln Center, EXPO, the Ultima Festival in Oslo, Fuse Leeds, the Saarbrucken Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the State of the Nation at the South Bank in London and the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam.

After studying abroad at the University of Illinois, IRCAM in France and in the Netherlands, in 1997 Dennehy returned to Dublin to found the Crash Ensemble, a renowned new music group that has premiered many of his best-known works.

You can hear Dennehy talk about the Crash Ensemble, Grá Agus Bás, and much more in this interview recorded in April, 2011 for NPR, and this one recorded the following month for radio station WNYC. In the embedded video windows below, you’ll find three samples of the Crash Ensemble playing Dennehy’s music, as well as a brief interview with him.

An excerpt from Donnacha Dennehy’s Grá agus Bás, performed at the Samuel Beckett Theatre by Crash Ensemble and Afro Celt Soundsystem’s Iarla Ó Lionáird

Crash Ensemble performing Dennehy’s Junk Box Fraud as part of their tenth anniversary show “Shindig”

Crash Ensemble and Iarla Ó Lionáird perform another Dennehy piece, Aisling Gheal

A 2010 interview with Dennehy, in which he discusses some recent compositions, working with texts and his interest in vocal music.


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