Fund for Irish Studies: “The Making of The Hunger”
September 13, 2019
James Stewart Film Theater, 185 Nassau St.
FREE and open to public
Donnacha M. Dennehy (composer) and Iarla Ó Lionáird (singer) discuss the creation of their new music-theater piece on the Famine in Ireland, as part of the fall 2019 Fund for Irish Studies series. Lecturer in Theater Michael Cadden opens the event with an introduction.
A free concert performance of The Hunger by Alarm Will Sound ensemble is being presented by the Department of Music on September 17 at 8 PM at Richardson Auditorium.
This event is cosponsored by Princeton University’s Department of Music.
Donnacha Dennehy’s music has 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, The Wigmore Hall 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 Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Bang On A Can, Third Coast Percussion, Icebreaker (London), the Doric String Quartet (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 writers Colm Tóibín (The Dark Places) and Enda Walsh (including the opera The Last Hotel, and a forthcoming opera The Second Violinist), 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. Other 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 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. Other recent pieces include Surface Tension premiered by Third Coast Percussion in February 2016, The Hunger, which was presented at BAM as part of their Next Wave Festival in the Fall of 2016, and The Weather of it for the Doric Quartet co-commissioned from the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall, premiered at the Wigmore Hall in July 2016. Forthcoming projects include a new opera, provisionally entitled The Second Violinist, again to a libretto by Enda Walsh, and a piece for So Percussion, co-commissioned by the Cork Opera House and Carnegie Hall.
Iarla Ó Lionáird has carved a long and unique career in music in Ireland. From his iconic early recording of the vision song Aisling Gheal as a young boy to his ground breaking recordings with Dublin’s Crash Ensemble, he has shown a breadth of artistic ambition that sets him apart in the Irish Music fraternity.
He has worked with a stellar cast of composers internationally, including Nico Muhly, Donnacha Dennehy, Dan Trueman, Gavin Bryars and David Lang, and he has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Nick Cave and Sinead O’Connor.
His unique singing style has carried him to stages and concert halls all over the world, from New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to the Sydney Opera House, London’s Royal Albert Hall and beyond. His voice has graced the silver screen also, with film credits extending from The Gangs of New York to Hotel Rwanda and most recently as featured vocalist in the film Calvary starring Brendan Gleeson and the film adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn starring Saoirse Ronan.