David Fennessy was born in Maynooth, Co Kildare. He began his musical studies at the DIT Conservatory of Music, studying guitar with John Feeley and composition with Eibhlis Farrell. He gained a BMus in performance from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1997 and an MMus in composition with James MacMillan at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2000.
His works have been performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern, Hebrides Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, the National Chamber Choir, the Castagneri and Zephyr Quartets, Synchronia and Concorde, among others. He has received many commissions, including those from RTÉ lyric fm, Music Network, the Paragon Ensemble, Concorde, and the Dundee Guitar Festival.
In 2006/2007 Ensemble Modern awarded Fennessy a scholarship to study at their prestigious International Academy in Frankfurt. A Dewar Arts Award (Scotland) enabled him to live in Germany for 12 months where he created several works in close collaboration with the musicians of the Academy.
He was shortlisted for the Gaudeamus Music Prize in Amsterdam in both 2000 and 2006 and was a finalist for the Philharmonia’s composition prize in 2004. His music has been chosen to represent Ireland at the International Rostrum of Composers. In 2010 he received a prestigious Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award, and from 2010 to 2011 he was a Fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart.
Fennessy’s music theatre work Pass the Spoon – a collaboration with director Nick Bone and visual artist David Shrigley – was premièred in Glasgow in November 2011. Recent significant works include BODIES, written for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and La Rejouissance-La Paix commissioned by Ensemble Modern for their 30th Anniversary celebrations.
David Fennessy has been a composition lecturer at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama since 2005. His music is published by Universal Edition.