The Hunger by Donnacha Dennehy premiered by Alarm Will Sound

A new work by Donnacha Dennehy will be premiered by the US new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, an ensemble known for their close collaborations with a number of leading composers.

The Hunger is a musical theatre work-in-progress based on the events of the Irish famine, part-commissioned by Alarm Will Sound and the Arts Council. The piece “knits vintage recordings of sean-nós – made by the likes of Wilhem Doegen and Alan Lomax – into the musical fabric, and also features the mezzo soprano, Rachel Calloway”. Calloway provides the main narrative, based on the writings of American non-conformist Asenath Nicholson who travelled amongst the hunger-striken people of Ireland and provided the only ground-level objective account of the famine. The piece also uses the inflections of sean-nós singing as the basis for spectral composition in the instrumental forces, creating a subtler emotional palette.

Scenes from The Hunger will be performed at Carnegie Hall on 6 April, as the second half of a programme that also features works by David Lang, Tyondai Braxton, John Orfe and Charles Wuorinen. Alarm Will Sound will be joined by singer Iarla O’Lionaird and mezzo-soprano Dawn Upshaw.

This premiere comes just as Dennehy has been announced as composer-in-residence of the Texas-based Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, whose upcoming programme will feature performances of his works Crane, The Vandal and That the Night Come.

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