David Fennessy - 5 Hofer Photographs (English premiere)

Performed by Jennifer Langridge live at Islington Mill in Salford, UK on Sunday 2nd February 2014

During 1965 to 1966 the German-American photographer Evelyn Hofer (1922 – 2009) lived in Dublin and in 1967 produced the book Dublin: A Portrait. Five photographs from that collection provided the starting point for these five little pieces for solo cello. They are:

1. Girl with bicycle – a young girl looks wistfully over her shoulder. The bicycle is clearly much to big for her.

2. Anna and Emma – A black and white photo of two chamber maids; one youthful, the other much older with a severe yet stoic look in her eye. It occurred to me they might be related or even the same person at different stages of their life.

3. Gravediggers – Another black and white portrait, this time of three gentlemen with huge shovels dressed in heavy overcoats and sporting Panama hats. They might have stepped out of a Raymond Chandler novel.

4. Phoenix Park on a Sunday – Four knobbly kneed men dressed in garish pink, red and black football kit stand in a line with their arms folded. I imagined what the ensuing match might have been like.

5. Mountjoy Square – Covered in a thin blanket of snow, this scene is devoid of people. An empty park bench in the foreground suggests a ghostly absence. I have given this movement the subtitle ‘In Memoriam’.

Five Hofer Photographs is dedicated to Jane O’ Leary.

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.

His 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.

Recent significant works include BODIES, written for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and La Rejouissance – La Paix commissioned by Ensemble Modern for their 30th Anniversary celebrations.

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.

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 2010 he 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.

Psappha’s YouTube Channel

You can also visit Psappha’s YouTube Channel, where you can watch:

  • Films of works by emerging composers
  • Films of Psappha’s Hong Kong Residency (2013)
  • All of the films on Psappha’s website