Five questions with composer David Fennessy

ImageThe UK premiere of David Fennessy’s 13 Factories takes place in the third set (7.30pm) of Sunday’s New Music Show 3. We caught up with David to find out a bit more about the influences and inspirations that have led him to this point.

What was the first recording you bought?
Madness – Michael Caine. That single is still in my mum’s house somewhere…

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you start in composing?
I came to ‘Classical’ music fairly late. I played guitar in bands at school but it had got to the stage where I was writing 20-minute long instrumental epics, so perhaps the writing was already on the wall by then that I was destined to be a composer. I started to take lessons in Classical guitar from a guy I saw busking on Grafton Street in Dublin and a couple of years later I started at the College of Music in Dublin. That was the first time I’d seen an orchestra or a string quartet in the flesh; it completely blew me away. When I started to study there I naively thought that all musicians composed their own music too so couldn’t believe that the world was split into composers and performers – something which still puzzles me today.

Who or what inspires you?
Here’s a great quote from James Joyce, which neatly encapsulates how I feel about inspiration: “Chance furnishes me with what I need. I’m like a man who stumbles along; my foot strikes something. I bend over and it is exactly what I need.”

If you could pick a favourite project or personal career highlight to date, what would it be?
In 2006/ 2007 I spent a year at the International Ensemble Modern Academy in Frankfurt. It changed everything for me.

And finally, name your 3 most listened to pieces of music at the moment…
A 1906 gramophone recording of Bella Figlia dell’amore by Verdi sung by Enrico Caruso, one from 1908, one from 1905…

I’ve just finished a piece called Caruso for Ensemble Klang in Holland that uses extensive samples of his voice. Honestly, I’m obsessive in these things and I’ve listened to almost nothing but recordings of Caruso for the last 2 months, so this covers all my top 3 most listened to pieces of music!!

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