2014: The Year in Review

Wednesday 14th January, 2015

2014 was a busy year as usual for Crash. Thanks to everybody who enjoyed it with us!


Our first concert weekend of 2014 took place at the National Concert Hall for New Music Dublin 2014, which wascurated by Crash Ensemble founder Donnacha Dennehy. We performed two concerts spanning the weekend, which included a wander down a new path in performing works by Ligeti, alongside Michael Gordon’s commission for Crash, Dry. Saturday was indeed a special event, with  a late night 11pm concert of Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee, in an intimate, un-amplified Engineering Library.

This, coupled with a live streamed performance in the Mansion House on St Patrick’s Day for Trailblaze, We need to talk about Ireland and a full ensemble show in Cork, including 2 new works written for us by Dave Flynn and Niall Vallely,  made for a busy March.

Crash Ensemble perform Michael Gordon's Dry at New Music Dublin 2014

7 March. Michael Gordon / Ligeti Double Portrait
National Concert Hall, Dublin

“The phenomenal Crash Ensemble includes the fascinating 'XY' by America's Michael Gordon of 'Bang on a Can' fame. With overlapping rhythms, this drum solo becomes more and more frenetic as it progresses and has Crash's ambidextrous Alex Petcu no less frenzied."

The Independent

8 March. Hans Abrahamsen's Schnee
National Concert Hall, Dublin

“Crash Ensemble perform the work with precision and understatement, and the effect is mesmerising. Kate Ellis deserves a special mention for her beautiful sound in the intermezzi."


7-9 March: Soundworks
New Music Dublin, The National Concert Hall.

Soundworks is part of our new series of fringe events. Presenting instillations of electro-acoustic works by Irish composers/artists. Soundworks at New Music Dublin featured the works of David Collier, Enda Bates and Judith Ring.

17 March: Trailblaze, We need to talk about Ireland
The Mansion House, Dublin

On St Patrick’s Night, Crash took part in We Need To Talk About Ireland, a 90 minute creative celebration of Ireland’s past, present and future. It took place in front of a live audience and was broadcast on RTE and The Washington Post online. Crash Ensemble performed a beautiful rendition Táim Sínte by Donnacha Dennehy with singer Iarla Ó Lionard (The Gloaming) and The World by Nina Hynes with Nina Hynes and the St. Brigid’s Childrens  and  The Discovery Gospel choirs.

Crash Ensemble and Iarla Ó Lionaird perform Táim Sínnte ar mo Thuama at The Mansion House, Dublin

20 March: Crash Ensemble at the Cork Opera House
The Cork Opera House, Cork

Crash’s return to the Cork Opera House in March featured two world premieres of works commissioned by and for the ensemble - Niall Vallely’s Time Flying, commissioned by the Cork Opera House for Crash and  Dave Flynn’s Joy,commissioned by Crash Ensemble, alongside two of our recent commissions by Nico Muhly and Michael Gordon. This concert was in collaboration with the Cork Orchestral Society.

Rehearsing for our Cork Opera House concert. Photo credit: Jonathan Pearson


April saw us perform in Galway and Dublin, as well as hosting a Soundworks installation in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim. Our yearly Free State concerts are always a favourite of ours, and the process of listening to, curating and performing a concert of Ireland’s brightest composing talent is always an inspirational process! 2014 was no different, with many different styles of music performed throughout the evening.

4 April: The Courthouse
The Courthouse, Galway.

Music for Galway invited Crash Ensemble and the RTÉ ConTempo Quartet to join forces to celebrate their participation in the EU New Music: New Audiences initiative, sharing music across Europe. The concert included music from the project's repertoire bank from Norway, Latvia, Britain and Ireland. Crash Ensemble performed work by Simon Holt, Øyvind Torvund and Sam Perkin.

Following the concert, a panel discussion around the writing and performing of contemporary music and the New Music:New Audiences initiative took place in Court Room No. 1.  This concert was a collaboration with the ConTempo Quartet, Music for Galway and the Contemporary Music Centre.

17 April: Free State #8
Project Arts Centre, Dublin

Crash Ensemble has, for 8 years, run an annual open submission concert for upcoming composers from Ireland, north and south.  2014’s Free State was guest curated by composer Raymond Deane, in conjunction with Crash , and included a performance of Raymond Deane’s Passage Work featuring soprano Sylvia O’Brien.

Prior to Free State #8 the contemporary music centre held a public talk with the composers and curator Raymond Deane.

The Free State 8 Crew. Photo Credit: Kate Ellis

18- 26 April: Soundworks
Phase One Festival, The Dock Arts Centre in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.

Soundworks at Phase One Festival featured the works of Ian McDonnell, Irene Buckley and Enda Bates and Jonathan Nangle all composers working in the field of electro-acoustic composition.


May marked an important trip to the UK for Nonesuch Records’ 50th anniversary. We were excited to perform in the same line-up as Kronos Quartet and with our friends Gavin Friday, Iarla O’Lionard and Sam Samidon,  in two beautiful venues (LSO St Luke’s and Milton Court) and the two concerts allowed us to perform a wide breadth of Nonesuch music.

Iarla soundchecking at Milton Court, The Barbican. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pearson

17 and 18 May:  The Barbican. Nonesuch weekend– Sessions 1+2.
LSO St Luke’s and Milton Court Concert Hall, Barbican, London

Entitled Explorations: The Sound of Nonesuch Records, this marathon weekend marked Nonesuch Records 50th anniversary year. The curated weekend of events included five London concerts featuring artists including Jonny Greenwood, Kronos Quartet,Brad Mehldau, Timo Andres, Sam Amidon, Natalie Merchant, Rhiannon Giddens, Olivia Chaney amongst others.

Crash Ensemble performed 2 concerts, of works by Nonesuch artists, including Donnacha Dennehy’s Grá agus Bás, with singer Iarla Ó Lionard, the title track from the Ensembles’s 2011 Nonesuch released album of the same name, and a concert performed with guest vocalists Sam Amidon, Gavin Friday on a bill shared with San Francisco's Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet.

“The best moments were the ones where that quality of floating outside boundaries allowed something fierce and unfettered to blaze forth. On Sunday the Irish Crash Ensemble appeared with folk singer Iarla Ó Lionáird to perform Grá agus Bás (Love and Death) by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy. The lamenting voice was surrounded by a seething foam of instrumental lines that were avant garde in their strangeness, and yet seemed purely instinctual, nourishing the singer’s voice the way the soft pulp in a fruit nourishes the seed." The Telegraph, UK


As the Summer heat came in, we performed the opening concert of Pipeworks Festival in the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin.

18 June: Pipeworks festival
Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin

The programme included the world première of Pier Damiano Peretti's Antifone for organ and ensemble.  As well as Aforismi by Pier Damiano for organ and flute performed by David Bremner and Susan Doyle and works by Charles Tournemire, Ryan Molloy and Thomas Daniel Schlee

Malachy Robinson. Photo Credit: Neva Elliot


Crash have created a series of concerts performed by smaller chamber groupings of the Ensemble as an introduction to contemporary music. The Dock in Carrick-On-Shannon was the first in this series which continues throughout 2015 and onwards in regional venues throughout the country.

This concert featured minimalist music from New York, and we used the entire venue as our stage, performing in the lobby, staircase and art exhibition spaces, as well as a version of Terry Riley’s In C for Clarinet, Guitar, Cello & Double-Bass

17 July: A Crash Course in… The New York Hypnotic School  

Carrick Water music Festival/The Dock, Leitrim.

A Crash Course in… The New York Hypnotic School acted as an introduction to minimalist music with Crash Ensemble performing works by Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Tom Johnson and Philip Glass.

After the concert The Dock screened Philip Glass’ ‘Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance’ as curated by Crash Ensemble.


The August bank holiday was spent in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, for the Happy Days Festival. The entire town turns into a haven for Beckett enthusiasts around the world, and we performed the opening concert with the Gavin Bryars’ Ensemble and Yurodny, and were ‘Music’ in  Beckett’s radio play “Words and Music’ on Monday morning.

Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, the world’s largest annual multi-arts celebration of Irish Nobel Prize writer, Samuel Beckett

1 August: Gavin Bryar’s Jesus’ Blood
St. Michael’s Church, Eniskillken.

Members of Crash Ensemble joined The Gavin Bryar’s Ensemble and Yurodney for the festival opening concert ‘Celebrating Godot‘ performing Gavin Bryars (Festival Composer in Residence) heart wrenching ‘Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet’.

4 August:  ‘Words and Music” Feldman / Beckett
Ardhowen Theatre, Eniskillken

Directed by Festival Artist in Residence Netia Jones, Crash Ensemble performed Samuel Beckett’s Words and Music with music from Morton Feldman. The performance featured actors Adrian Dunbar and Ian McElhinney .


Crash soundchecking Aheym by Bryce Dessner at the National Concert Hall. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pearson

Our final concert of the year was to perform the music of Bryce Dessner (founding member of guitarist of rock group The National) as part of Brassland (The National’s label) weekend of events in the National Concert Hall. It was great to finish the year on a sold-out concert in our home town.

We hope to have videos of this concert up soon, so please watch this space!

Rehearsing Tenebre for String Quartet & Electronics. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pearson

13 Dec: Crash Ensemble perform the music of Bryce Dessner
The National Concert Hall, Dublin

Bryce Dessner is a composer, guitarist and curator  best known as a member of the indie rock band ‘The National’ Crash Ensemble perform the music of  Bryce Dressner was part of a weekend celebration of artists signed to the Brassland record label- an artist-operated label founded by Alec Hanley Bemis, Aaron and Bryce Dessner. Programme:Aheym, O Shut Your Eyes Against The Wind, Tenebre.


Dave Flynn
Crash Ensemble premiered ‘ Joy’ on the 20th March at the Cork Opera House. ‘Joy’ was commissioned with the assistance of the Arts Council.

Dave Flynn is an award-winning composer and musician from Dublin, who works across many musical genres with a particular emphasis on traditional and contemporary Irish music.  Dave is perhaps best known for ‘Music for the Departed’, a collaboration with the renowned Irish fiddle and guitar duo Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill an Ioana Petcu-Colan, which was premiered in 2006. His numerous awards include the 2002 IMRO Composition Award and the 2004 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Composers Award. Dave founded the Dublin Guitar Quartet.

Niall Vallely
Crash Ensemble premiered ‘ Time Flying’ on the 20th March at the Cork Opera House. “Time Flying” was commissioned by the Cork Opera House for Crash Ensemble.

Niall is a reknowned musician and record producer, and has been composing traditional style tunes since the early 1990s, which have been performed by artists such as Lunasa and Sharon Shannon. He has been commissioned by the BBC, RTE Lyric FM, University College Cork, Kronos Quartet to name but a few.

On stage with Niall Vallely during soundchecks for our World Premiere of his piece Time Flying at the Cork Opera House. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pearson.

Thank you

The Arts Council, Culture Ireland, The National Concert Hall, New Music Dublin, The Project Arts Centre,  Hans Abrahamsen,  Tralblaze, The Cork Opera House,  The Cork Orchestral Society, RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, Music for Galway,  the Contemporary Music Centre, New Music: New Audiences, Raymond Deane, Phase One Festival, The Barbican, Nonesuch Records, Pipeworks Festival,  Pier Damiano Peretti, The Dock Arts Centre, Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival,  Bryce Dessner, Dave Flynn, Niall Vallely and to all our audiences and listeners.