Born in Dublin in 1970, Donnacha Dennehy has received commissions from Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Bang On A Can All-Stars, Electra, the Fidelio Trio, Icebreaker, Joanna MacGregor, Orkest de Ereprijs, Orkest de Volharding, Percussion Group of the Hague, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra (BBC Radio 3), Smith Quartet, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players among others. Collaborations include pieces with the choreographers Yoshiko Chuma (To Herbert Brun) and Shobana Jeyasingh, (Hinterlands), the writer Enda Walsh (Misterman) and the visual artist John Gerrard (Composition for Percussion, Loops, Blips and Flesh).
His work has featured in festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Bang On A Can in New York, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, WNYC?s New Sounds Live, Sonic Evolutions Festival at Lincoln Center, EXPO, the Ultima Festival in Oslo, Fuse Leeds, the Saarbrucken Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the State of the Nation at the South Bank in London and the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam. In 2010, his large single-movement orchestral piece, Crane, was 'recommended' by the International Rostrum of Composers.
Returning to Ireland after studies abroad at the University of Illinois (USA), Ircam (France) and the Netherlands, Dennehy founded the Crash Ensemble, Dublin's now renowned new music group, in 1997. Crash Ensemble is very much associated with the performance of many of Dennehy's landmark works, including the pieces Gr? Agus B?s (with the singer Iarla O' Lionaird) and That the Night Come (with Dawn Upshaw) which feature on Dennehy's 2011 release on Nonesuch Records (entitled Gr? Agus B?s). The Guardian, in a 5-star review of that disc referred to the music's "startling freshness". NPR named the disc one of its "50 Favorite Albums" (in any genre) of 2011. It also featured in many other end-of-2011 lists including both the listener's poll and John Schaefer's top ten from WNYC.
Upcoming premieres include pieces for the Kronos Quartet, and Dawn Upshaw with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. At present, Dennehy is working on a new piece for Upshaw and Alarm Will Sound. Dennehy lectures in music composition at Trinity College Dublin, and was appointed a Global Scholar at Princeton University for 2012-13.