Performance Friday, May 17, 2013 | 6 PM

Crash Ensemble

Zankel Hall
Donnacha Dennehy's haunting, lyrical That the Night Come anchors this concert that features Crash Ensemble, an Irish group that plays “with the energy and spirit of a rock group” (The New York Times), and soprano Dawn Upshaw, who has a special ability to bring an emotional immediacy and timelessness to new music.

This concert is part of My Time, My Music.


  • Crash Ensemble
    Alan Pierson, Conductor
  • Dawn Upshaw, Soprano
  • Iarla Ó Lionáird, Voice


  • OSVALDO GOLIJOV "Lúa Descolorida"
  • OSVALDO GOLIJOV "How Slow the Wind"
  • TRADITIONAL "Aisling Gheal" (arr. Donnacha Dennehy)
  • DONNACHA DENNEHY That the Night Come (NY Premiere)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Crash Ensemble

    Crash Ensemble is Ireland's foremost contemporary music ensemble, comprising world-class musicians who play the most adventurous, groundbreaking new music. Founded in 1997 by composer and Co-Artistic Director Donnacha Dennehy, the ensemble has been recorded on labels such as NMC, Cantaloupe Music, and most recently Nonesuch Records with the release of Donnacha Dennehy's Grá agus Bás in May 2011.

    Crash Ensemble is committed to commissioning, producing, and performing new or recent works by internationally acclaimed composers and up-and-coming composing talents, and collaborating with culturally relevant artists. The ensemble has worked with many well-known artists from diverse musical backgrounds, such as Steve Reich, Gavin Friday, Terry Riley, David Lang, Julie Feeney, Gerald Barry, Gavin Bryars, Michael Gordon, and Louis Andriessen.

    In addition to performing regularly throughout Ireland, Crash Ensemble has appeared in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the UK, Australia, the US, and Canada. Recent events include a residency at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in November 2012. In addition to Carnegie Hall, the ensemble's 2013 US tour also includes performances at the Kennedy Center and Princeton University.

    Alan Pierson

    Alan Pierson is the artistic director of Alarm Will Sound, artistic director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and principal conductor of Crash Ensemble. He has also appeared as a guest conductor with the London Sinfonietta, Steve Reich Ensemble, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Ensemble ACJW, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Silk Road Project. In addition, he has served as a visiting faculty conductor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Mr. Pierson has collaborated with major composers and performers, including Yo-Yo Ma, Steve Reich, Dawn Upshaw, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas, David Lang, Michael Gordon, La Monte Young, and choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Akram Khan, and Eliot Feld. Mr. Pierson has recorded for Nonesuch Records, Cantaloupe Music, Sony Classical, and Sweetspot DVD.

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  • Dawn Upshaw

    Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming communicative power of music, Dawn Upshaw has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire, ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today.

    From Salzburg, Paris, and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera, where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances, Ms. Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her, including John Harbison's The Great Gatsby; Kaija Saariaho's Grawemeyer Award-winning opera L'amour de loin and oratorio La Passion de Simone; John Adams's nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov's chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre.

    In 2007, she was awarded a fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year "genius" grant, and in 2008 she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ms. Upshaw is artistic director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center. She holds honorary doctorate degrees from Yale University, the Manhattan School of Music, Allegheny College, and Illinois Wesleyan University.

    A four-time Grammy Award winner, Ms. Upshaw is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Górecki. She has recorded extensively for the Nonesuch label, and may also be heard on the Angel/EMI, BMG, Deutsche Grammophon, London, Sony Classical, and Telarc labels.

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  • Iarla Ó Lionáird

    Iarla Ó Lionáird learned his craft in the musical heartland of his hometown Cúil Aodha, located in Ireland's West Cork Gaeltacht. Since his iconic recording of the song "Aisling Gheal" as a young boy, Mr. Ó Lionáird has established himself as both a masterful exponent of sean nós song and a pioneer in its renewal and development.

    Always an artist on his own journey, Mr. Ó Lionáird signed to the prestigious Real World label in the mid-1990s. He went on to make many groundbreaking recordings with the multi-million-selling Afro Celt Sound System, resulting in two Grammy nominations. Solo albums Seven Steps to Mercy (1997) and Invisible Fields (2005) brought widespread acclaim that confirmed him as one of contemporary music's most ambitious singers and recording artists.

    Mr. Ó Lionáird has always been a collaborator who seeks new fields of engagement. Since his collaboration with Peter Gabriel on OVO, his projects have taken an increasingly classical form, including his work with Gavin Bryars on the song cycle Anail De (The Breath of God). Mr. Ó Lionáird has also worked extensively with Donnacha Dennehy and Crash Ensemble. He is a featured soloist on Dennehy's Grá agus Bás with Dawn Upshaw and Crash Ensemble, released on the Nonesuch label in May 2011. His latest solo album, Foxlight, was released on Real World Records.

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Donncha Dennehy's Grá agus Bás

At a Glance

The venerable Crash Ensemble, founded in 1997, has often been praised for bringing significant new repertoire from abroad to Ireland, but tonight they bring their music—much of it written specifically for them—to us. The first two works are by this season's Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair Osvaldo Golijov, and the last three are by Crash Ensemble founder Donnacha Dennehy. The pieces' text settings range from a 19th-century Galician poem and traditional Irish verse to Emily Dickinson and W. B. Yeats.
Program Notes


Crash Ensemble and Iarla Ó Lionáird perform Donnacha Dennehy's Grá agus Bás.

Crash Ensemble and Iarla Ó Lionáird perform Donnacha Dennehy's arrangement of the traditional Irish song "Aisling Gheal."

Osvaldo Golijov is the holder of the 2012–2013 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall.
This performance is part of Off the Beaten Track.

Part of