After grad school, Donnacha Dennehy wrote to French composer Gérard Grisey asking if he could study with him. Upon receiving a yes, he packed his bags, only to be received with disappointment: Grisey had though Donnacha was a woman. The odd and dissatisfying time that followed led him to study instead with Louis Andriessen, whose passion inspired Dennehy. He received a teaching position, but he was worried he would lose the ability to flex his creative muscles. Then came the Crash Ensemble, the group he founded in 1997 which was "vital" in developing his voice. It was with Crash, Dennehy says, that he found musical freedom.