Donnacha Dennehy writes a startling, powerful piece for piano, performed by Eliza McCarthy; Tonia Ko pens a solo for amplified bubble wrap, an innovative instrument she invented and plays; and Dan Trueman teams up with legendary Irish fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on a piece for 10-string fiddle that brings the history of Irish traditional music in dialogue with the orchestra.

LIVE AT NATIONAL SAWDUST // 6:30pm doors
June 14, 2023
7:30 pm
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Dreams of One/All reimagines the idea of what a “concerto” can be through three cutting-edge premieres. Composed by Donnacha Dennehy, Tonia Ko, and Dan Trueman, these new works expand the relationship between a solo instrument and a large ensemble. Dennehy writes a startling, powerful piece for piano, performed by Eliza McCarthy; Ko pens a solo for amplified bubble wrap, an innovative instrument she invented and plays; and Trueman teams up with legendary Irish fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on a piece for 10-string fiddle that brings the history of Irish traditional music in dialogue with the orchestra. Performed by the 23-person ensemble, and former National Sawdust group in residence Contemporaneous, these new works represent a culmination of many years of collaboration, and open up new futures for the concerto form.

About Contemporaneous

Contemporaneous is an ensemble of 23 musicians whose mission is to bring to life the music of now. Recognized for a “ferocious, focused performance” (The New York Times) and for its “captivating and whole-hearted commitment” (I Care If You Listen), Contemporaneous performs and promotes the most exciting work of living composers through innovative concerts, commissions, recordings, and educational programs. Based in New York City and active throughout the United States, Contemporaneous has been presented by such institutions as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, PROTOTYPE Festival, Merkin Concert Hall, MATA Festival, St. Ann’s Warehouse, and Bang on a Can and has worked with such artists as David Byrne, Donnacha Dennehy, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Dawn Upshaw, and Julia Wolfe. Contemporaneous has premiered more than 150 works, and with its newly-launched program Contemporaneous IMAGINATION, the ensemble champions large-scale works, curated from an open call for artists to submit ideas for projects that take risks and defy constraints. The ensemble has recently released a podcast entitled Imagination Radio, which explores the significance of creativity and music in our lives through dialogues with composers, scientists, a cartographer, and a BASE jumper. Contemporaneous has recorded for the New Amsterdam, Cantaloupe, Innova, Roven, and Navona labels.

About Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

If you're wondering how to pronounce my name, try "Kwee-veen Oh Rye Alla" on for size. It's not quite right, but as a first attempt, it's not too shabby.

I make music on a 10-string fiddle called the hardanger d'amore , and I travel the world as a solo musician, in duos with Dan Trueman, Mick O'Brien and Brendan Begley, and as a member of The Gloaming and This is How we Fly.

I also use live processing on stage, sending the sound of my fiddle through code I write in a programming language called ChucK.

I've had the extraordinary pleasure of performing on some of the most beautiful stages in the world, including the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall, and Carnegie Hall, although some of my favorite performances have been much more intimate and ephemeral events, special one-off things invented by friends. I live in Dublin and love the place and the people.

There are seventeen recordings to my name so far, ranging from quite traditional to fairly out there. I enjoy both equally, playing the old music that I love, and exploring the region where traditional music begins to disintegrate.

About Tonia Ko

Tonia Ko’s creative evolution is largely guided by three conceptual pillars: texture, physical movement, and the relationship between melody and memory. These ideas permeate her work across a variety of media—from instrumental solos and large ensemble pieces to improvisations and sound installations. No matter how traditional or experimental the medium, Ko's work reveals a core that is at once whimsical, questioning, and lyrical.

Recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, Ko has been commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles from a broad range of the music scene. She recently collaborated with Riot Ensemble, Tangram Collective, Grossman Ensemble, and Spektral Quartet. Her work has been performed at prominent venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, LSO St. Luke’s, and featured at the Hertzbreakerz Sound Spaces Festival and Thailand International Composition Festival.

Ko has received grants and awards from the Fromm and Barlow Foundations, Chamber Music America, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as residencies at MacDowell, Copland House, and MASS MoCA. She served as the 2015-2017 Composer-in-Residence for Young Concert Artists.

In the attempt to follow aural, visual, and tactile instincts in a holistic way, Ko mediates between the identities of the composer, sound artist, and improviser. This has sparked interdisciplinary connections— most prominently “Breath, Contained”, an ongoing project using bubble wrap as a canvas for both art and sound. As a bubble wrap virtuoso, she has performed with other noted improvisers at Café OTO, Hundred Years Gallery, and the Ear Taxi Festival. She received a 2021 Koussevitzky Commission to compose a concerto for bubble wrap and chamber orchestra, featuring her as a soloist with Contemporaneous.

Ko was born in Hong Kong in 1988 and grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. She earned a B.M. with Highest Distinction from the Eastman School of Music and an M.M. from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She holds a D.M.A. from Cornell University, where she studied with Steven Stucky and Kevin Ernste. Her practice has been enriched by further studies at the Tanglewood Music Center and Royaumont Académie Voix Nouvelles. She was the 2018-19 Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition. Upon relocating to the United Kingdom, she served as 2019-20 Honorary Research Fellow at City, University of London, and was appointed Lecturer in Composition at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2020.

About Dan Trueman

Dan Trueman has worked with ensembles such as So Percussion, the PRISM Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Gallicantus, the JACK Quartet, as well as individuals like scientist Naomi Leonard, choreographer Rebecca Lazier, poet Paul Muldoon, director Mark DeChiazza, fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird, guitarist/songwriter Monica Mugan, pianists Adam Sliwinski and Cristina Altamura, and many others. Dan’s work has been recognized by fellowships, grants, commissions, and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, the Bessies, the Fulbright Commission, the American Composers Forum, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, Meet the Composer, among others. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at Princeton University. 

Current and recent projects include bitKlavier (the prepared digital piano); The Fate of Bones, a new record with  Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh; The Cross Quartets, a set of string quartets in scordatura, for Brooklyn Rider and the Bergamot Quartet; 12 Preludes for bitKlavier (recording in progress with Cristina Altamura and Adam Sliwinski); Songs That Are Hard To Sing, for So Percussion and the JACK Quartet (released by New Amsterdam Records in 2019);  Midden Find, for fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Contemporaneous (in progress); Olagón, an opera featuring Iarla Ó Lionáird and Gelsey Bell, with text by Paul Muldoon and directed by Mark DeChiazza (premiering at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, May ’23, with the Crash Ensemble); There Might Be Others, with choreographer Rebecca Lazier and scientist Naomi Leonard (winner of a Bessie Award, Outstanding Music Composition). His tools of the trade are the first-of-its-kind Hardanger d’Amore fiddle by Salve Håkedal (played with a beautiful baroque bow by Michel Jamonneau), bitKlavier, and the ChucK music programming language by Ge Wang.

About Donnacha Dennehy

Called “thrilling” by the Guardian, and “arrestingly beautiful” by the New Yorker, Donnacha Dennehy’s music has featured in festivals and venues such as the Edinburgh International Festival; Carnegie Hall, New York; Barbican, London; Muziekgebouw , Amsterdam; Wigmore Hall, London; Royal Opera House, London;  BAM, New York; St. Ann’s Warehouse; Tanglewood Festival; Holland Festival;  Kennedy Center; Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival; Dublin Theatre Festival;  ISCM World Music Days; Bang On A Can; Ultima Festival, Oslo;  Musica Viva, Lisbon; Saarbrucken Festival; and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival.  

His music has been premiered and commissioned by groups and soloists including Alarm Will Sound, Augustin Hadelich, Bang On A Can, Contact, Crash Ensemble, Dawn Upshaw, Doric String Quartet (Carnegie/Wigmore co-commission), Fidelio Trio, Joanna MacGregor, Kronos Quartet, Icebreaker, Nadia Sirota, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Oregon Symphony, Orkest de Volharding, Percussion Group of the Hague, philharmonie zuidnederland,  San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, So Percussion (Carnegie/Cork Opera House co-commission), St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Third Coast Percussion, Ulster Orchestra (BBC), and United Instruments of Lucilin (Luxembourg).  Collaborations include pieces with the writers Colm Tóibín (The Dark Places), the director Tom Creed (The Hunger, stage version) and Enda Walsh (a trilogy of operas).

Returning to Ireland after studies abroad, principally at the University of Illinois, Dennehy founded Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s now-renowned new music group, in 1997. Alongside the singers Dawn Upshaw and Iarla O’Lionáird, Crash Ensemble features on the  debut 2011 Nonesuch release of Dennehy’s music, entitled Grá agus Bás. Other releases include a second portrait disc by Nonesuch (The Hunger, 2019), a number by NMC Records in London, Bedroom Community in Reykjavik and New Amsterdam and Cantaloupe in New York.

In recent years, Dennehy has concentrated especially on large-scale musico-dramatic works. He has now completed a trilogy of operas with the writer/director Enda Walsh: The Last Hotel (2015), The Second Violinist (2017) and The First Child (2021). Other recent large-scale pieces include the docu-cantata The Hunger (2012-16, concert version 2019), originally co-produced by Alarm Will Sound and Opera Theatre St. Louis; Surface Tension for Third Coast Percussion (commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum and Notre Dame University);  Overcasting (2019), commissioned by the LA Philharmonic (for their new music group), and Tessellatum, an epic piece for viola (Nadia Sirota) and microtonally adjusted viols (originally multitracked by Liam Byrne in the Bedroom Community recording, but now arranged for various ensembles, including a string orchestra of modern instruments in a new version of 2020). The last couple of years has seen a flurry of orchestral pieces: Brink (2020) for Indianapolis Symphony, Memoria (2021) for the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland (to be given its US premiere by the Dallas Symphony in May, 2022) and Violin Concerto (2021), co-commissioned by the Oregon Symphony, Aspen Music Festival and philharmonie zuidnederland for Augustin Hadelich.

Dennehy’s single-movement orchestral piece Crane was ‘recommended’ by the International Rostrum of Composers (2010).  In 2017, he won the FEDORA-Generali Prize for Opera (Salzburg/Paris), and in 2021  he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.  At present, he is writing a large-scale work for Alarm WIll Sound, Land of Winter, to be premiered at the Beethovenfest in Germany in September 2022. Dennehy now lives in America and is a professor at Princeton University. His music is published by G. Schirmer in New York.

About Eliza McCarthy

“In the hands of a great performer, things you never expected or even dreamed were in your music are suddenly revealed.” – John Adams

Eliza McCarthy is a London-based pianist dedicated to performing new and experimental music. She plays in concert halls, art galleries, theatres, living rooms and car parks across the UK, Europe, and the US as a soloist and band member.

Passionate about developing close creative relationships with composers she has had the pleasure of working with, commissioning, premiering, and recording music by many including John Adams, Thomas Adès, George Crumb, Tansy Davies, Donnacha Dennehy, Kit Downes, Andrew Hamilton, Nico Muhly, and Laurie Spiegel. She regularly collaborates with Mica Levi (Under the Skin, Jackie) and their album Slow Dark Green Murky Waterfall was released in 2018 on Slip.

Recent performance highlights include Morton Feldman’s 90-minute solo piano work Triadic Memories which she performed at the Southbank Centre’s DEEP∞MINIMALISM festival, a solo show for Nature Unwrapped at King’s Place featuring music by John Luther Adams, Kit Downes, and Donnacha Dennehy and the world premiere of True Stories & Rational Numbers by Chris P. Thompson with James McVinnie Ensemble at the Barbican Centre.

As an ensemble member, she can be heard performing with Decibel, James McVinnie Ensemble, Manchester Collective, and Ireland’s leading new music group Crash Ensemble. 

Eliza has recorded and released music on NMC, Milan Records, Slip, Diatribe Records, Foom, WW Records and Clay Pipe Music. Her latest album, Years Went By, with composer Laurie Tompkins was released on Entr’acte in April 2022.

Alongside her life as a performer, Eliza teaches Mindfulness-based approaches at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and University of Birmingham helping performers engage with fear, anxiety, and depression. She is also a professor at GSMD teaching contemporary repertoire studies to pianists.

Jun 14

Contemporaneous: Dreams of One/All

UPCOMING