Photo: Yvonne Gunner
Composer/pianist, Martin Hennessy is best known as a composer for the voice with a growing catalogue of art song, chamber music, opera and music-theater. He has received awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, the American Music Center and New Dramatists. His Ben Jonson Songs won Grand Prize at the San Francisco Song Festival and he has been honored with Copland House and Millay Colony residencies as well as two commissions from the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. His music has been presented by Guggenheim Works and Process, American Opera Projects, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Harvard Ballet Company, Dancers Responding to AIDS, and New York City Opera’s Vox Series. His opera A Letter to East 11th Street (with a libretto by Mark Campbell) was recently announced the featured winner of the 2014 Domenic J. Pelleciotti Opera Composition Prize. As part of the prize the piece will receive a full production and four performances in November of 2014 by the Crane School of Music at Suny/Potdam University in upstate New York.
Recent premieres include a commission from the Five Borough Music Festival for its Five Borough Song Book available on GPR records and Renascence, a song cycle for vocal quartet based on Millay’s poem presented at the National Opera Center on his new concert series, MARTIN HENNESSY IS DEAD…! Urban Arias recently presented his short comic opera, The Good Friar, (libretto by Mark Campbell) in Arlington VA and he is currently completing another comic short based on Arnold Weinstein’s The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle. Other projects include music for Tom Rowan’s play, The Blue Djinn, and two new Thom Gunn settings for the AIDS Quilt Song Book premiered recently at Philadelphia’s LGBT center.
A keen interest in language and poetry together with his exemplary accompaniments, continue to make Hennessy, a highly prized recital partner. He held a two year conducting/coaching fellowship at Juilliard’s American Opera Center and served on the faculties of the Bel Canto Seminar and Bennington College. He is also music director and contributing composer for Barbara Dana’s play, Wider than the Sky/The Mystery of Emily Dickinson and for Kathleen Shimeta’s one woman show about Canadian/American composer, Gena Branscombe. He earned a degree in English magna cum laude at Columbia University. Additional recordings can be found on Newport and Albany.
Please visit Hennessy's link at the Song of America website for a more in depth story about the composer's life in music.
"Contrary to several other contemporary compositions based on my work, I found your setting to be sensitive to the subtleties of the text in a way that intensifies the intermingling of meaning (story, word) with form (rhythm, silence). The result is Real Music: A song that lives its story, a story that sings. I feel gratified, exalted, and exulted. Thank you! Please accept my undiluted thanks for giving 'The Secret Garden' a musical magic carpet."
Hennessy’s largest work to date is the musical Edgar, inspired by Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," which was developed over two years by Live Arts Theater in Charlottesville, VA and produced as an equity showcase by Vital Theatre Company in New York City. He is currently re-vamping the show and seeking production possibilities.
MARTIN HENNESSY IS DEAD? Learn more about Hennessy's new concert series MARTIN HENNESSY IS DEAD! which is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of MARTIN HENNESSY IS DEAD! may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Click on the logo to read more and make a contribution.