Donnacha Dennehy on Stainless Staining, performed at MusicNOW on Oct. 21, 2013.

Duration: 14 minutes
Instrumentation: Piano and soundtrack
Commissioned by Lisa Moore (with funds by the Arts Council of Ireland)
Premiered by Lisa Moore on March 28, 2007, at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. Copyright/publisher information: Donnacha Dennehy Publications.

The composer writes:

Commissioned by Lisa Moore with funds provided by the Arts Council of Ireland, Stainless Staining is for piano and soundtrack. The soundtrack is made up of samples of a piano (played both normally, and “inside”) retuned to provide a massive harmonic spectrum of 100 overtones based on a fundamental low G sharp. This reflects an increasing recent concern of mine with a kind of pulsating, rhythmic use of the overtone series. That concern can range from a rather extreme concentration in this piece and Bulb (a piano trio where pulsing glissandos connect nodes in the harmonic series) to a more integrated approach in the large scale vocal and instrumental pieces, where that approach is used often in a looser fashion only in particular areas.

About the composer:

Born in Dublin in 1970, Donnacha Dennehy has received commissions from soprano 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 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, IRCAM in 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 Grá Agus Bás (with the singer Iarla O’Lionaird) and That the Night Come (with Dawn Upshaw), which are featured on Dennehy’s 2011 release on Nonesuch Records (entitled Grá Agus Bás). The Guardian, in a five-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 turned up in many other end-of-2011 lists, including both the listeners’ poll and John Schaefer’s top 10 from WNYC-FM.

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 school year.

For more information about the composer, visit