Born in Dublin in 1970, Donnacha Dennehy has had work featured in festivals and venues around the world, such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Opera House London, Carnegie Hall New York, The Barbican London, BAM New York, 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, WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Bang On A Can, Ultima Festival in Oslo, Musica Viva Lisbon, the Saarbrucken Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, and the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam.
Dennehy has received commissions from Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Bang On A Can, Third Coast Percussion, Icebreaker (London), Contact (Toronto), Lucilin (Luxembourg), Orkest de Ereprijs (Netherlands), Fidelio Trio, 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. In 2010 his single-movement orchestral piece Crane was ‘recommended’ by the International Rostrum of Composers.
Returning to Ireland after studies abroad in the USA, France and Holland, 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. Previous releases include a number by NMC Records in London and Cantaloupe in New York. Previously a tenured lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, Donnacha was appointed a Global Scholar for 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.
Dennehy’s recent 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. It has since had runs at the Dublin Theatre Festival and at the Royal Opera in London. The Last Hotel receives its New York premiere in January 2016 at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Other forthcoming pieces in the 2015-16 season include co-commissions from the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall for the Doric Quartet, and from Notre Dame University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY) for Third Coast Percussion. His new piece for Nadia Sirota and viol consort will be premiered at Symphony Space (also a commissioner of the piece) in 2016, and is being recorded for future release by Bedroom Community.
Biography updated January 2016