In this series, we present our new composers. We are proud to introduce Dave Flynn.
I’m a composer, guitarist and orchestra director, originally from Ireland, now resident in NZ.
I work across a variety of styles including contemporary classical, Irish traditional, jazz, pop and free improvisation.
Aesthetically my mind is very open, I’d fall into the ‘genre-blind’ category I guess. I have tried numerous styles from modal minimalism to atonal aleatory music and electronic pieces. I am probably best known though for a style which merges ideas from contemporary classical with Irish traditional music. This style is generally modal or tonal with a strong emphasis on rhythm and a modern take on Irish melodic lines.
I have a PhD from the Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin, where I taught composition for a while in 2012. I also have a Masters degree in composition from London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I am not currently teaching in NZ, but I am open to offers!
I’ve won quite a few awards, including:
2002 IMRO Composition Award, Feis Ceoil, Dublin Ireland
2004 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Composers’ Competition, UK
2016 Eamonn Ceannt Commission Award, Galway
Numerous awards and grants from the Arts
Council of Ireland and Culture Ireland
2017 Chosen by RTÉ to represent Ireland at the International Rostrum of Composers
2020 Galway Music Residency Commission Competition – Winner
I have several memorable concert experiences, The most unusual is probably attending the Russian premiere of my String Quartet No.2 ‘The Cranning’, it was in The Kremlin’s lavish Armory Chamber in 2012, the performance was by the Vanbrugh Quartet. A lot of VIP Moscovites were there. The front row of the audience was full of fur coats and expensive jewelry. A surreal experience!
Other memorable performances:
2009 US premiere of The Cranning at Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the Summergarden Festival to over 1000 people
2010, World premiere of my Irish fiddle concerto Aontacht at Ireland’s National Concert Hall, played by Martin Hayes and the RTE Concert Orchestra. Full house, standing ovations etc.
2015 – My ensemble The Irish Memory Orchestra performed my music at the Sori International Music Festival in South Korea, including a concert at an incredible Buddhist Monastery.
2019 – World premiere of my ‘Vision Symphony’ (Symphony No.3) featuring 26 blind and vision impaired musicians performing with the Irish Memory Orchestra, in Ennis, a town in Clare on the West Coast of Ireland.
I’ve also enjoyed touring Japan twice and touring across Europe also.
Highlights of my career in New Zealand include two tours as a solo guitarist where my wife and I got to travel all over New Zealand and see some amazing landscapes and meet some great people. Headlining Canterbury Folk Festival and Hamilton Folk Festival was great.
Also collaborating with Jade Quartet in Auckland in 2017 was great. They are members of the Auckland Phil and my wife and I have enjoyed going to see the APO live this year, it’s great to be able to see orchestra concerts at a time when it’s not possible in most other countries.
Speaking of orchestras, I’m founder and artistic director of the Irish Memory Orchestra www.irishmemoryorchestra.com. The orchestra is on a hiatus basically until Europe is rid of Covid, which could be a long time. It is a uniquely Irish orchestra that mixes classical, traditional and jazz musicians/instruments and always performs by memory. It’s a brilliant project but quite hard to manage all by myself!
Work-wise, I mainly work from home in Auckland, I’m looking forward to doing more concerts around NZ. I have one lined up in Putaruru with South Waikato Music Society on March 14th, which I’m really looking forward to as I’ve never been there. I’m hoping I can do some more concerts around that time to make a bit of a tour out of it.
String Quartet No.2 ‘The Cranning’ was my first breakthrough piece – I won the 2004 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival composers’ award for the first movement ‘Slip’ and they then commissioned me to turn it into a full string quartet. The Smith Quartet premiered it at the 2005 HCMF. It has since been performed in Moscow, Paris, New York and around Ireland and it was recorded by the ConTempo Quartet on an album produced by multiple Grammy-winner Judith Sherman.
My fiddle concerto Aontacht was my first big success as an orchestral composer, as mentioned in the previous bit.
There is no commercial recording yet, but the premiere was recorded by RTE Lyric FM.
I’m planning to do a version of this piece suitable for a classical violinist, so a ‘Violin Concerto’ rather than a ‘Fiddle Concerto’.
Lastly, I’ll select my most recent album, recorded in New Zealand this year, it is called Dun Laoghaire Guitars and features several guitar-focused pieces composed this year
To explain the title, Dun Laoghaire, (pronounced Done Leary) is the town I was born in, just South of Dublin.
I’ve just had a book of my guitar works published by Mel Bay, which is a great thrill, many years in the making.
I am working on two commissions at the moment. One is a work for Electric Guitar and String Quartet called E-bow, due to be premiered in Ireland at the end of 2021. I’m also composing a short work for a choir in America.
I also recently received a commission to compose a piece for a folk orchestra in Ireland, which I will start in 2021 and will be premiered in 2022.
Besides that, I am working on a book about composition which I hope to finish at some stage in 2021.
Would you like to tell us anything else?
Yes, as I’m relatively new to the New Zealand music scene I just want to say I am open to ideas for potential collaborations, concerts etc.
I’d love to get to know more musicians, composers and other arts professionals here.
I’m always open to concert opportunities, either as a solo artist or in ensemble situations.
I’m also fascinated by Taonga Puoro, so I’d love to work with Taonga Puoro artists, perhaps to find links between Irish and Maori music, within a modern context.
I’d also like to thank Sounz for being so welcoming to me, and also RNZ Concert who’s been playing some of my music lately. New Zealand/Aotearoa is a great country, very open to new people and ideas and I’m proud to have been granted residency here.
My wife, by the way, is an Irish-born NZ citizen and we’re living on the North Shore in Auckland.