Donnacha Dennehy: III. Irish Upon a Star

"We're all angry at Time."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

W.B. Yeats W.B. Yeats

In Ireland, "the poet" claims a different role in society than it does in many other parts of the world: one of respect, visibility and wider influence. Dennehy's music is beautifully influenced by the written word, his father being an author, and some of his most known compositions integrate poetry and vocals. In movement three of Episode Three, hear about the background of his piece That the Night Come, which was written for Dawn Upshaw and the Crash Ensemble, that sets W.B. Yeats poems, and his groundbreaking Grá agus Bás with Irish Sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird.

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Produced by:

Alexander Overington

Comments [1]

Gearóid Ua Laoghaire from Berlin

It was very interesting to hear Donncha Dennehy talk about his music on your show. I saw the Crash Ensemble perform both 'Grá agus Bás' and Aisling Gheal in Ireland in 2008. Very powerful stuff. I felt that Múscraí Sean Nós man Iarla Ó Lionáird, whose surname is incorrectly spelled on your webpage, was the perfect choice of singer to complete this extraordinary mission. He also probably acted as translator and guide for Donncha into the world of the Irish Language. Grá agus Bás is not without some sort of precedent, however. John Cage had written Roaratoria, some 30 years earlier, with Conamara singer Seosamh Ó hÉanaí in mind. Ó hÉanaí never recieved full recognition for his gifts in Ireland and was once booed from the stage during a concert in Dublin. In the Q2 Music interview the composer interprets this loss of connection to being a result of the influence of the catholic church on Irish cultural matters alone. The church of course had its part to play in massively manipulating and controlling Irish life especially from the post famine period onwards, the time that saw Hiberno-English replace Irish as the dominant tongue. However, the tragic loss of the language in most of the island can not be decoupled from British imperialism which began a few hundred years earlier with the set purpose of separating the Irish people from their tongue, thus making them more easily governable. The great composer/musician Seán Ó Riada, who popularised Aisling Gheal as an instrumental piece in the late sixties, having heard it from the singing of Pádraig Ó Tuama (Peaití Thaidhg Pheig), once travelled to Paris to study and expand his musical horizons before choosing instead to return home and re-connect with the language and music of his people. Ó Riada was a powerful figure who sparked a revolution in thinking that has taken us on a 50 years journey from Mise Éire all the way up to Grá agus Bás and beyond. In this context, Donncha Dennehy's extraordinary re-setting of Aisling Gheal, with its elements of French Spectralism brings the Ó Riada quest to a very impressive conclusion.
is mise,
Gearóid Ua Laoghaire

Oct. 14 2014 03:24 PM

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