The composition of this piece was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship awarded in 2021. It was written for Alarm Will Sound, to be premiered at the Beethovenfest in Bonn in September 2022.

  • 1(pic).1(ca).2(II:bcl).1(cbn)/1.1(pictpt).1.0/2perc/pf(cel)/str
  • 52 min

Programme Note

i. December
ii. January
iii. February
iv. March
v. April
vi. May
vii. June
viii. July
ix. August
x. September
xi. October
xii. November

Composer note
The Latin name for Ireland was Hibernia, which translates as “land of winter.” I suppose the country seemed cold to the Romans. It seems cold to many, especially in July. In a way it is the quality of light that demarcates the seasons, from the shorter days of grey or piercing light in the winter to the much longer, warmer but mercurial light of summer. I like this play between light and time, and it inspires the connection between expanding and contracting temporal processes and harmony, often overtone-hued, in the piece. Occasionally the resonance of the term “land of winter” — something perennially stuck in its last cycle — engenders a terrifying force in the piece (the linear push towards death perhaps or even a kind of climate endgame). Comfort and re-generation are found in the circular recurrences and variations.

Structurally, the piece is divided into twelve sections (which I consider as months) connecting to each other continuously. The piece starts in December, and culminates at the end of November, ready to start all over again in winter as it were. An advent chorale by Bach lurks behind the surface occasionally, influencing the larger harmonic motions, and sometimes working as a generator of upper partials that remain on the musical surface after the chorale itself is erased. In the final movement, November, the chorale itself is gradually revealed in looping windows that create a new, slowly evolving modal harmony out of its re-constituted chronology.

The composition of this piece was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship awarded in 2021, and is dedicated to Alan Pierson.

— Donnacha Dennehy



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