*23 July 1976
David Fennessy (b. 1976 Maynooth) began his musical life as the guitarist of his school rock band but had no formal musical training until the age of fifteen when he decided to study classical guitar. His interest in composition grew whilst studying for his undergraduate degree at the Dublin College of Music. In 1998 Fennessy moved to Glasgow for a Masters Degree at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to study with James MacMillan. He was later invited to join the composition faculty and has held a teaching post there since 2005.
Fennessy was shortlisted for the Gaudeamus Music Prize in Amsterdam in both 2000 and 2006 and was a finalist for the Philharmonia’s composition prize in 2004. His music has, moreover, been chosen to represent Ireland at the International Rostrum of Composers.
In 2006/2007 Ensemble Modern awarded Fennessy a scholarship to study at their prestigious International Academy in Frankfurt. A Dewar Arts Award (Scotland) funded his 12 month stay in Germany where he penned several works in close collaboration with the musicians of the Academy.
In 2010, he composed BODIES, written for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and La Rejouissance – La Paix commissioned by Ensemble Modern for their 30th Anniversary celebrations. Fennessy, furthermore, also received a prestigious Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award. This British award, providing significant financial support over three years, aims to give artists the freedom to develop their creative ideas and contribute towards their personal and professional growth. In 2010/2011 Fennessy became a Fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart.
Fennessy’s music theatre work Pass the Spoon – a collaboration with director Nick Bone and visual artist David Shrigley – was premiered in Glasgow in November 2011. The piece was born due to a a Vital Sparks Award from Creative Scotland.
Following a first contract with Universal Edition for his orchestral work This is How it Feels (Another Bolero), David Fennessy signed a major agreement in 2011 for his main catalogue of works.
Significant works include 5 Hofer Photographs for solo violoncello and Haupstimme, a piece for solo viola and ensemble, first brought to the stage by Garth Knox with Rednote Ensemble at the Huddersfield Festival in 2013. Since 2012 he has been working on a trilogy of large scale works based on the diaries of the German film director Werner Herzog written during the production of the 1982 movie Fitzcarraldo. In May 2016, Sweat of the Sun was premiered at the Münchener Biennale.
In recent years, Fennessy's work has been characterised by a consistent stream of output. A full album of Fennessy's music is, furthermore, set to be published by the Unsound Label in 2024.
Fennessy’s music has been performed both nationally and internationally by many known names, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern, Hebrides Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and the RTE Concert Orchestra among them.
Some further reading: