David Fennessy (b. 1976 Maynooth) began his musical life as guitarist in a school rock band but had no formal musical training until the age of fifteen when he decided to study classical guitar. He became interested in composition whilst studying for his undergraduate degree at the Dublin College of Music. In 1998 Fennessy moved to Glasgow to study for his Masters Degree at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama 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 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) enabled him to live in Germany for 12 months where he created 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, and also received a prestigious Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award. This British award, providing significant 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 he was 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 premièred in Glasgow in November 2011. The creation of the work was made possible by 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. Recent significant works include 5 Hofer Photographs for solo violoncello and Haupstimme, a work for solo viola and ensemble premiered by Garth Knox with Rednote Ensemble at last year’s Huddersfield Festival. 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. Fennessy’s music has been performed nationally and internationally by many groups including 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.
David Fennessy’s music is published by Universal Edition.
In 2014, David Fennessy was commissioned by Cork International Choral Festival and Chamber Choir Ireland to write Letter to Michael, the first in a ‘triptych’ of works for Chamber Choir Ireland to be composed between 2014 – 2018. Letter to Michael drew on letters written by an in-patient in a German psychiatric ward around 100 years ago pleading to her husband to visit, writing page after page the single phrase “sweetheart come”. The second piece in this triptych was commissioned for the 2017 Cork International Choral Festival and continues the theme of emotional outpourings born of extreme circumstances. Whereas Letter to Michael was a desperate cry for help, Ne Reminicaris interweaves a passage from Lassus’ Penitential Psalms with an impassioned affirmation of life, as experienced upon waking from a coma.
Criostóir Ó Loingsigh is a pianist and composer from Co. Kerry. He graduated from the Cork School of Music (CSM) in 2014 with First Class Honours as ‘Student of the Year’ having been awarded the ‘Highest-Placed Degree Student’ in his year on three occassions. He studied piano with Mary Beattie, Gabriela Mayer, Brian MacNamara and Timothy Cooper as well as organ with James Taylor and composition with Séamas de Barra.
Criostóir is currently studying for a Master’s in Music Theory in the Sibelius Academy (Helsinki, Finland) where he has studied composition with Tapani Lansiö and Vladimir Agopov, music analysis with Lauri Suurpää and Olli Väisälä, as well as piano with Tuula Hanhinen. Criostóir is a singer in two of Finland’s most prominent choirs; Musiikkitalon Kuoro and EMO Ensemble.
As a pianist, he was the 2014 winner of both the CSM Piano Accompaniment Competition and Advanced Recital Competition (receiving second prize in 2012). He has competed in the Bernard Curtis Memorial Perpetual Cup in Feis Maitiú Corcaigh in 2011, 2014 and 2015, each year winning first prize and subsequently qualifying for and winning the overall Prizewinner’s Perpetual Piano Trophy. In November 2014, Criostóir performed in the RDS Concert Hall as part of the RDS Rising Stars Recital Series and was also awarded a Licentiate Diploma in piano performance from Trinity College London. He was co-artistic director (with David Kenny) of Shostakovich Festival 2015, a four-day event which included all of Shostakovich’s major chamber works, starring international artists such as the Carducci Quartet, Vanbrugh Quartet and pianist Barry Douglas, where Criostóir also prominently featured as a performer. He was the 2016 winner of the Huban Cup & Patrick Brennan Award in Feis Ceoil, Dublin.
As a composer, Criostóir has a particular interest in choral and vocal writing, combining his passions for both the Irish language and music. He has had works performed as part of Féile na Bealtaine and the Cork International Choral Festival. In 2016, his entry in the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition was chosen to feature in the Symposium on New Choral Music as part of the Cork International Choral Festival and received a performance reading by Chamber Choir Ireland. He is the 2017 winner of the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition.
“I really am delighted – for several reasons – to have won Ó Riada Competition 2017. To have a work premièred by an ensemble of the calibre of Chamber Choir Ireland is a rare and exciting opportunity for any composer. I have attended the Festival and Seminar every year since 2011 and it is a happy coincidence that the text of the winning piece that first year was also Scél Lemm Dúib. I am particularly glad to have won considering that one of the original aims of the Ó Riada competition was to encourage the composition of new works in the Irish language which is very important to me, as it was to Seán Ó Riada. This is the third time I have applied to the competition so having been both a runner-up and Seminar invitee in 2016, I am thrilled this year to say “third time lucky”. It is also a point of pride and pleasure to join my own composition teacher, Séamas de Barra, in the ranks of the competition’s previous winners. Seán Ó Riada and Aloys Fleischmann, a founding figure of both the Choral Festival and Seminar, are individuals for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration so it is an honour to be now associated with their names and legacies.”
Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition Shortlisted Composer
Michael Doherty – The Art of Dying
* Both new compositions received their world premieres by Chamber Choir Ireland in their Festival Gala Concert. See this page for more details. As part of the Choral Symposium the Festival featured Scél Lemm Duib (winning composition) as part of Chamber Choir Ireland’s exploration of composition, performance and treatment through a performance-reading under the direction of Paul Hillier in an interactive workshop session on Friday 28th April at 2pm in CIT Cork School of Music. See Seminar on New Choral Music for more details.
The Seán Ó Riada Competition was initiated in 1972, and today, the present format of the Seán Ó Riada Competition offers a platform for Irish composers to have their work judged and rewarded purely on its own merits without the judges being influenced by the reputation or status of the composer. All compositions are submitted under a pseudonym, with the author’s real name not being revealed until after the judges’ decision has been made. Works composed in the Irish language are encouraged. The competition has, as a central aim, the intention of providing Irish choirs with fresh, authentic material for inclusion in their programmes. The competition has attracted the attention of many highly-regarded composers, with past winners including Solfa Carlisle, Rhona Clarke, Patrick Connolly, Frank Corcoran, Séamas de Barra, Eoghan Desmond, Michael Holohan, Marian Ingoldsby, Donal MacErlaine, Simon MacHale, Michael McGlynn, Kevin O’Connell, and last year’s winner, Amanda Feery. With nearly 200 compositions being submitted in the past 7 years of the new format, the Seán Ó Riada Composition Competition clearly highlights the number of composers now working and living in Ireland, and further demonstrates the Cork International Choral Festival’s continuing commitment to encourage the composition and performance of contemporary music.