David Flynn (composer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

David Flynn
Born (1977-01-06) 6 January 1977 (age 42)
Dublin, Ireland
GenresFolkloric, minimalism, tonal/modal, Irish
Occupation(s)Composer, musician
Years active1993–present
LabelsFrisbee Records

David Flynn (also known as Dave Flynn, born 6 January 1977) is an Irish composer and musician with a number of major awards and commissions to his name. His recent music is noteworthy for merging the influence of traditional Irish music with contemporary classical music and jazz. He is also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who works across many genres including classical, jazz, rock and traditional Irish music. He performs regularly on guitar, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki and vocals.[1]

Early experiences[edit]

Flynn was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. His early musical experiences included brief periods studying piano and tin whistle, but it was not until his early teens that Flynn really took to music, teaching himself how to play rock guitar. He developed an interest in classical guitar in his mid-teens and taught himself how to read music notation, he also learnt classical guitar by ear from recordings. He composed his first piece for classical guitar aged 16.

Upon leaving school in 1995 he studied rock music at Ballyfermot Senior College, Dublin. Around this time Flynn started composing songs and became a regular performer on the Dublin singer-songwriter scene which spawned some of Ireland's current crop of successful songwriters such as Damien Rice and Damien Dempsey. He was also lead guitarist of the rock band Maize.[2] He later developed a strong interest in traditional Irish music which he learnt through recordings and workshops at various Irish music festivals.[3]

Formal studies[edit]

In 1998 Flynn began formal classical music studies at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, initially studying classical guitar on a part-time basis with John Feeley. In 1999 he enrolled in the full-time music degree course at the Conservatory, continuing his guitar studies with Feeley while majoring in composition. Now fully committed to composing, Flynn won the IMRO Composition Award in 2002 at the Feis Ceoil in Dublin for his string orchestra piece Mesh.

While at DIT he co-founded the Dublin Guitar Quartet with fellow students. He graduated in 2003 at which time he left the Dublin Guitar Quartet in order to move to London where he became the first person from the Republic of Ireland to be accepted onto the master's degree in Composition course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was awarded bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland, Guildhall Trust and Michael Collins Memorial Foundation in order to fund these studies. At Guildhall he studied composition with Malcolm Singer and electro-acoustic music with Nye Parry and he formed his own ensemble, the David Flynn Collective. He graduated from the Guildhall in 2004.[4]

He returned to DIT in 2006 where he undertook a research Ph.D. entitled Traditional Irish Music: A Path to New Music. He completed it in 2010.[5]

Professional composition career[edit]

Soon after graduating from Guildhall, his string quartet piece Slip was selected for the Young Composers Workshop at the 2004 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, which led to Flynn being awarded the 2004 Young Composers Award at the Festival. His prize was a commission to elaborate Slip into his String Quartet No. 2 "The Cranning" for the 2005 festival where it was premiered by the Smith Quartet to the acclaim of critics including Neil Fisher of The Times who praised Flynn for "incorporating traditional Irish music without Hollywood pastiche".[6]

Music critic Michael Dervan of The Irish Times wrote: "Flynn is attempting to bring the influence of traditional Irish music into the hallowed realms of the classical string quartet and moments in the Smith Quartet's performance of this minimalist influenced work gelled to perfection."[7]

Earlier in 2004 Flynn had instigated the foundation of the Young Composers Collective (YCC) in Ireland. Flynn announced the YCC with an article in the Journal of Music in Ireland (JMI) in which he criticised established bodies for failing to support young composers. The article caused considerable controversy and debate but ultimately led to the YCC providing a platform for a large number of previously unknown young composers to have their music performed.[8] The YCC has since evolved into the Irish Composers' Collective. Flynn is no longer a member according to the ICC website.[9]

Flynn caused further controversy in the JMI in 2005 when his article "Looking for the Irish Bartók" questioned the failure of established Irish classical composers to engage with traditional Irish music and musicians. Despite some harsh criticism of Flynn's ideas from some of the established Irish composers, his article resonated with traditional Irish musicians who had in the past largely been ignored or denigrated by the Irish classical music establishment.[10]

This article directly led to Flynn's contact with the renowned traditional Irish fiddler Martin Hayes and his musical partner, guitarist Dennis Cahill. In 2006, the Masters of Tradition Festival in Cork commissioned Flynn to compose a piece for Hayes and Cahill to perform with the classical violinist Ioana Petcu-Colan. The resulting piece Music for the Departed was premiered at the Masters of Tradition Festival in August 2006 and received its US Premiere in 2010 at the Irish American Arts Center in New York. It was described as "A magnificent new work for fiddle, violin and guitar" by the Irish Examiner (USA).[11]

Flynn has since worked with Martin Hayes on a number of other projects. In 2010, Hayes premiered Aontacht, a concerto for Irish fiddle and orchestra with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Ireland's National Concert Hall. The concert also featured a new arrangement of Music for the Departed with a string orchestra added to the fiddle, violin and guitar trio of the original.[12]

Flynn continues to work with traditional Irish musicians in the creation of new concert works. Recent such works include The Forest of Ornaments for flautist Harry Bradley, Five Études for Uilleann Pipes for uilleann piper Mick O'Brien and The Valley of the Lunatics for fiddle player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. These works and others were programmed to be premiered at the 2011 Masters of Tradition Festival in Cork at a concert devoted entirely to Flynn's music.[13]

Outside of his recent collaborations with traditional musicians, Flynn's music continues to be performed by major international classical musicians and ensembles around the world including the New Juilliard Ensemble, ConTempo Quartet, guitarist John Feeley and saxophonist Gerard McChrystal.[12]

He has also had a major radio special dedicated to his music on WNYC New York's New Sounds show hosted by John Schaefer.[14]

His primary publisher is his own company Frisbee Publications, however Four Études for Five Fingers have been published by Mel Bay[15] and Toccata for Obama is published by Reed Music.[16]

Traditional music career[edit]

During his time in London, Flynn became strongly involved with the London Irish traditional music scene, performing regularly in concerts and sessions with some of the leading Irish musicians in London. Flynn remained in London until the beginning of 2006 when he returned to live in Ireland.

Flynn continues to build a parallel career as concert music composer and multi-genre performer. His debut recording 'Draíocht', a mix of traditional Irish music and new compositions and songs based on the tradition, was released late in 2006. Most of the songs on the album were co-written with the poet/lyricist Pádraic Ó'Beírn. Also featured on the album are some of his regular musical partners including fiddler Liz Coleman, percussionist Aidan Dunphy, bassist Brian O'Toole and guitarist Ciarán Swift. The album was co-produced by Flynn with engineers Manus Lunny and Paul Thomas. Writing in Irish Music Magazine, critic John O'Regan says, "Draíocht is one of the most surprising debuts to hit my ears in ages ... An interesting and intriguing collection from a tunesmith, instrumentalist and composer, Dave Flynn is a name to conjure with and Draíocht is very definitely worth an open-minded listen."[17]

Flynn's second album, Contemporary Traditional Irish Guitar',' was released in 2009 on Frisbee Records. The album contains completely solo guitar versions of music by some of the best traditional Irish music composers of the 20th Century, most particularly Paddy Fahey, 20 Fahey compositions feature on the album. There is also music by Ed Reavy, Liz Carroll. Charlie Lennon, Larry Redican and Tommy Peoples. One of Flynn's own compositions, The Mahatma of the Glen, a tribute to the late fiddle player James Byrne, also features. This is a reworking of three of the sections of his earlier piece Music for the Departed. The album has received considerable critical acclaim.[18][19][20]

Complete concert works[edit]

  • "Elegy For Joan" for guitar solo (1993)
  • "Homage To Villa-Lobos" for guitar solo (1998)
  • "Irish Seascape with Waves-Homage to Leo Brouwer" for guitar solo (2000)
  • "5to9" for guitar solo (2000)
  • "Passacaglia" for guitar solo (2000)
  • "Rainstorm" for guitar solo (2000)
  • "Chimurenga" for Guitar Quartet (2000)
  • "3 Gymno'Paddy's" for guitar solo (2000/2001)
  • "Twelve-Tone BACH" for piano solo (2001)
  • "Mesh" for String Orchestra (2001)
  • "Quirk No.1" Versions available for Violin & Cello or Flute & Bb Clarinet) (2001)
  • "Quirk No.2 (Shadowplay)" for Flute and Guitar (2002)
  • "Kora" for Guitar Quartet (2002)
  • "Horrific Spasm" for Chamber Quintet (2002)
  • "I have always known" Song set to poem by Narihiri for voice and piano (2002)
  • "7–11" for Piano 4-Hands or Piano Duet (2002/2003)
  • "After Cowell" for Solo Piano (2003)
  • "Echoes of Bamako" for String Orchestra (2003)
  • "Polymetric Cycles" – for Chamber Ensemble (2003)
  • String Quartet No.1 "Fairground Attractions" (2003)
  • "Quirk No.3" for Alto Flute, Oboe, Eb Clarinet, Soprano Sax & Guitar (2003)
  • "Full Circle" song cycle for voice and piano set to poetry by Joan Jennings (2003/2004)
  • "Two Nonsense Songs" for voice and piano (2003–04)
  • "Manipulations" for Chamber Sextet (2004)
  • "Electric Guichair" electronic music (2004)
  • "Between the Jigs and the Reels" for Violin & Piano.(2004)
  • "String Quartet No.2 "The Cranning" (2004/5)
  • "Four Etudes for Five Finger Right Hand Technique" guitar solo (2005)
  • "Tar éis an Cran" for Fiddle and keyboard (piano or harpsichord) (2005)
  • "Ómós do Frankie Kennedy" for Flute and Guitar (2006)
  • "Music for the Departed" for Fiddle, Violin and Guitar (2006)
  • "Errigal Suite" for traditional Irish musician and two Guitars (2007)
  • "Taibhreamh O Ríada" for traditional Irish music ensemble and seán nós singers (2007)
  • "String Quartet No.3 "The Keening" (2007)[21]
  • "Tar Eís an Caoineadh" for solo violin (2008)
  • "Aontacht" Concerto for Traditional Irish Musician and Orchestra (2008)
  • "Scealta an Seansaol/Stories from the Old World" for Uilleann pipes, String Quartet and Narrator/Singer (2008)
  • "Toccata for Obama" for violin and guitar (2009)
  • "The Mahatma of the Glen" for solo guitar (2009)
  • "Five Études for Uilleann Pipes" (2009)
  • "The Longest Reel" (2009) for solo fiddle
  • "The Forest of Ornaments" (2010) for improvising soloist playing Irish flutes, fifes, shakuhachi, fujara with a pre-recorded sound collage
  • "The Valley of the Lunatics" (2010) for detuned 'Bb' fiddle, retuned hardanger fiddle and pre-recorded sound collage
  • "Le Chéile is in Aonar" (2010) for traditional Irish music ensemble – 2 fiddles, 2 flutes, 3 tin whistles and uilleann pipes[13]
  • "Hyper-Reel" (2010) for solo percussion (Marimba and woodblock)


  • Dervan, Michael "Experiments with Sound", The Irish Times, 30 November 2005
  • Fisher, Neil "Concert:Huddersfield Festival", The Times, 30 November 2005
  • Flynn, David "The Young Composers Collective" in The Journal of Music in Ireland (Vol.4 No.3)
  • Flynn, David "Looking for the Irish Bartók" in The Journal of Music in Ireland (Vol.5 No.4)
  • Also refer to The Journal of Music in Ireland Vol.5 No.5 and Vol.5 No.6 for debate on this article
  • Long, Siobhán "Losing their Shackles to Play from the Heart", The Irish Times, 14 August 2006
  • O'Regan, John "Dave Flynn – Draíocht album review", Irish Music Magazine, December 2007
  • Scores and Programme Notes for David Flynn's compositions can be found in The Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin


  1. ^ daveflynn.com. daveflynn.com (17 November 2010). Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  2. ^ daveflynn.com Archived 7 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ daveflynn.com Archived 7 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ daveflynn.com Archived 21 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Dave Flynn | Dublin Institute of Technology – Academia.edu. Dit.academia.edu. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  6. ^ Fisher, Neil: "Concert: Huddersfield Festival", in: The Times, 30 November 2005.
  7. ^ ireland.com – The Irish Times – Wed, 30 Nov 2005 – Experiments with sound
  8. ^ The JMI : Young Composers' Collective : David Flynn
  9. ^ [1] Archived 26 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ The JMI : Looking for the Irish Bartók : David Flynn
  11. ^ Out & About. Irish Examiner USA. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  12. ^ a b Dave Flynn News Page | Just another WordPress.com weblog. Daveflynnnews.wordpress.com. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  13. ^ a b [2]
  14. ^ New Sounds: New Irish Music. WNYC. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  15. ^ Contemporary Anthology of Solo Guitar Music Book – Mel Bay Publications, Inc.. Mel Bay (24 August 2009). Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  16. ^ Toccata for Obama by David Flynn for Alto Saxophone & Guitar. Reed Music (7 March 2011). Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  17. ^ December 2007. Irish Music Magazine. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  18. ^ June 2010. Irish Music Magazine. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  19. ^ Custys Traditional Music Shop. Custysmusic.com. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  20. ^ June 2010 » Minor 7th Magazine. Minor7th.com. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
  21. ^ Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland: Irish Composers David Flynn compositions by date. Cmc.ie. Retrieved on 2013-06-07.

External links[edit]