Donnacha Dennehy

b. 1970

Irish

Summary

Born in Dublin, Donnacha Dennehy has had work featured in festivals and venues around the world, including the Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Opera House (London), Carnegie Hall, The Barbican, BAM, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, ISCM World Music Days, WNYC's New Sounds Live, Bang On A Can, Ultima Festival (Oslo), Musica Viva (Lisbon), the Saarbrucken Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, and the Gaudeamus Festival (Amsterdam).

Dennehy has been commissioned by Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Bang On A Can, Third Coast Percussion, Icebreaker (London), Contact (Toronto), Orkest de Ereprijs (Netherlands), Percussion Group of the Hague, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, BBC Ulster Orchestra and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, among others. Collaborations include pieces with the writer Enda Walsh (including his recent opera The Last Hotel), the choreographers Yoshiko Chuma and Shobana Jeyasingh, and the visual artist John Gerrard. He founded Ireland's Crash Ensemble in 1997, whose Nonesuch release entitled Grá agus Bás was named one of NPR's '50 favorite albums' (in any genre) in 2011.

In recent years, Dennehy has concentrated especially on large-scale musico-dramatic works. His first opera, The Last Hotel (2015), with a libretto by Enda Walsh, was met with critical acclaim in the UK when it premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2015 His second opera with Enda Walsh, The Second Violinist (2017), won the 2017 Fedora Prize for Opera (Salzburg/Paris) and was premiered in July 2017 at the Galway International Arts Festival, with subsequent performances at the Barbican in London in September 2018 and at Dutch National Opera in March 2019.

Other recent pieces include the docu-opera The Hunger (2012-16), co-produced by Alarm Will Sound and Opera Theatre St. Louis; two percussion quartets (Broken Unison for So Percussion and Surface Tension for Third Coast Percussion); three string quartets (The weather of it for the Doric Quartet, First Frost for RTE Radio One, and Strange Folk for Princeton University Concerts); as well as two large ensemble works (Canons and Overtones commissioned by Crash Ensemble and Carnegie Hall for the Knights, and Overcasting for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Green Umbrella series in June 2019, John Adams conducting). Recent recordings include his piece for Nadia Sirota and viol consort, Tessellatum, released by Bedroom Community (August 2017), and Cantaloupe Music's March 2019 release of The Last Hotel, which features Crash Ensemble and the Irish National Opera.

His music is published by G. Schirmer in New York, part of Wise Music Group.

Donnacha Dennehy on WQXR's Meet the Composer

Biography

Donnacha Dennehy's music has been featured in festivals and venues around the world, such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Carnegie Hall New York, The Barbican London, The Wigmore Hall London, The Linbury at the Royal Opera House London, BAM New York, Tanglewood Festival, Holland Festival, Kennedy Center, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the UK (which opened its 2012 Festival with a portrait concert devoted to Dennehy's music), Dublin Theatre Festival, ISCM World Music Days, Bang On A Can, Ultima Festival in Oslo, Musica Viva Lisbon, the Saarbrucken Festival, and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival.

Dennehy has received commissions from, among others, Alarm Will Sound, Bang On A Can, Contact (Toronto), Dawn Upshaw, Doric String Quartet (London), Fidelio Trio, Joanna MacGregor, Kronos Quartet, Icebreaker, Nadia Sirota, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Orkest de Volharding (Amsterdam), Percussion Group of the Hague, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, So Percussion, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (Minnesota), Third Coast Percussion, Ulster Orchestra, United Instruments of Lucilin (Luxembourg), and Wide Open Opera (Dublin). Collaborations include pieces with the writers Colm Tóibín (The Dark Places), Paul Muldoon (in progress), and Enda Walsh (including the two operas The Last Hotel and The Second Violinist). In 2010 his single-movement orchestral piece Crane was 'recommended' by the International Rostrum of Composers.

Returning to Ireland after studies abroad, principally at the University of Illinois in the US, Dennehy founded Crash Ensemble, Ireland's now-renowned new music group, in 1997. Alongside the singers Dawn Upshaw and Iarla O'Lionáird, Crash Ensemble features on the 2011 Nonesuch release of Dennehy's music, entitled Grá agus Bás. NPR named it one of its '50 favorite albums' (in any genre) of 2011. In October 2014, RTE Lyric FM released a portrait CD of Dennehy's orchestral music. Other releases include a number by NMC Records in London, Bedroom Community in Reykjavik and Cantaloupe in New York. Previously a tenured lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, Donnacha was appointed a Global Scholar at Princeton University in the Autumn of 2012. He was also appointed composer-in-residence for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in Texas (2013-14). He joined the music faculty at Princeton University in 2014.

In recent years, Dennehy has concentrated especially on large-scale musico-dramatic works. His first opera The Last Hotel (2015), with a libretto by Enda Walsh, was met with critical acclaim in the UK when it premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2015. His second opera with Enda Walsh, The Second Violinist (2017) won the 2017 Fedora Prize for Opera (Salzburg/Paris) and was premiered in July 2017 at the Galway International Arts Festival, with subsequent performances at the Barbican in London in September 2018 and at Dutch National Opera in March 2019.

Other recent pieces include the docu-opera The Hunger (2012-16), co-produced by Alarm Will Sound and Opera Theatre St. Louis, and presented at BAM, New York; Surface Tension, premiered by Third Coast Percussion in February 2016, and The weather of it for the Doric Quartet co-commissioned by the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall, premiered at the Wigmore Hall in July 2016; Canons and Overtones co-commissioned by Crash Ensemble and Carnegie Hall, premiered by Crash Ensemble in September 2017; Broken Unison for So Percussion, co-commissioned by the Cork Opera House and Carnegie Hall (premiered March 2018 at Carnegie Hall); Overcasting for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Green Umbrella series (premiered June 2019 with John Adams conducting); and two brief string quartets — First Frost for RTE Radio One's Sunday Miscellany show, and Strange Folk for Princeton University Concerts.

Recent recordings include his piece for Nadia Sirota and viol consort, Tessellatum, released by Bedroom Community in August 2017, and Cantaloupe Music's March 2019 release of Dennehy's first opera with librettist Enda Walsh, The Last Hotel, which features Crash Ensemble and the Irish National Opera.

His music is published by G. Schirmer in New York, part of Wise Music Group.

—January 2019

For specific inquiries about this composer, please contact Rachel.Sokolow@schirmer.com or call 212-254-2100.

Donnacha Dennehy on WQXR's Meet the Composer

News

Performances

25th September 2020

PERFORMERS
Crash Ensemble
CONDUCTOR
Ryan McAdams
LOCATION
Wade Thompson Drill Hall, Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY, United States

26th September 2020

PERFORMERS
Crash Ensemble
CONDUCTOR
Ryan McAdams
LOCATION
Wade Thompson Drill Hall, Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY, United States

28th September 2020

PERFORMERS
Crash Ensemble
CONDUCTOR
Ryan McAdams
LOCATION
Wade Thompson Drill Hall, Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY, United States

29th September 2020

PERFORMERS
Crash Ensemble
CONDUCTOR
Ryan McAdams
LOCATION
Wade Thompson Drill Hall, Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY, United States

9th October 2020

PERFORMERS
Indianapolis Symphony
CONDUCTOR
Krzystof Urbanski
LOCATION
Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis, IN, United States

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Discography