The Dublin Guitar Quartet
Brian Bolger, Pat Brunnock, David Creevy and Tomas O’Durcain
‘Strange that one of the best underground releases of the year in Ireland is the work of a quartet of classically trained guitarists. Strange, but true.’
Bob Black - Foggy Notions Magazine.
‘This is a very special arrangement. Arranging for guitars is a very tricky business and you really have to know what you are doing, so I have never done it, but Dave Flynn and Brian Bolger have made these arrangements and they’re really quite beautiful.’
Philip Glass - July 2008
‘I normally hate arrangements of my work. And they came along saying they’d already done it. I groaned. And then they came to play it for me. It was terrific. Somebody had already arranged it at one point for three guitars, and Chester’s [Volans’s publisher] more or less turned it down. But the new one was really good, so Chester’s, at my insistence, okayed it.’
Kevin Volans Interview with Michael Dervan – The Irish Times
‘A quartet with a difference.’
Michael Dervan – The Irish Times
The Dublin Guitar Quartet perform contemporary music exclusively. Concerts include a mix of celebrated works of the guitar quartet repertoire and modern classics by internationally acclaimed composers such Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Henryk Gorecki and Arvo Part. The quartet are also committed to performing new Irish works. In March of 2004, Lyric FM broadcast their Mermaid Arts Centre concert over two installments of the ‘Horizons’ programme. This concert included a world premier of Four Guitars by internationally acclaimed composer Kevin Volans. The composer became interested in the group on hearing their arrangement of a work he originally composed for New York’s Kronos Quartet and this inspired him to compose a radical new work for their repertoire.
In August 2010, the quartet performed a concert of new works by members of the Spatial Music Collective. For this concert the four guitar amplifiers were positioned in the four corners of the theatre with electronic parts distributed through an eight-channel surround sound speaker array. This included works by Linda Buckley, Simon Cullen, Michael Flemming and Jonathan Nangle.
The quartet also gave a performance at the National Concert Hall as part of the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival 2006 (D.E.A.F.) This included a premiere of new work by Donnacha Dennehy. The concert was broadcast on Bernard Clarke’s Nova on RTE Lyric FM. In 2007 the group commissioned seventeen members of the YCC (Young Composers’ Collective) to produce a set of 1-minute miniatures. These were performed during the Printing House festival of New Music at Trinity College.
They have also been successful in bringing new music to unlikely audiences. They have played as guests of ‘rock’ groups such as The Redneck Manifesto (Dublin) and Final Fantasy (Canada) performing in venues such as Vicar St., Whelan’s of Wexford Street, the Project Arts Centre, Crawdaddy and the Roisin Dubh, Galway. They also gave the opening concert at the inaugural Guitar Festival of Ireland (2004) which included performances by John Williams and Louis Stewart.
In 2005 the quartet undertook a tour of Ireland in which they performed in venues such as Galway’s Town Hall Theatre, the Market Place in Armagh and Crawdaddy at the Pod in Dublin. The quartet were also invited to perform at the Crash Ensembles’ ten year anniversary concert last October.
In July 2008, the quartet was honoured to share the stage with legendary American composer Philip Glass at a Louth Contemporary Music Society concert at St. Patrick’s Cathederal, Dundalk. The quartet performed arrangements of two of Glass’s string quartets, Mishima and Company and were given a complimentary introduction by the composer himself.
On April 17th, 2010 the DGQ performed the entire set of Philip Glass quartets at St. Ann’s church Dawson Street. In May 2010 the quartet were involved in a very special performance of Repentance for cello, guitar trio and double bass (2007) by celebrated Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina. They joined Irelands leading double bass player Malachy Robinson and the amazing Russian cellist Ivan Monighetti on stage in Louth Contemporary Music Society in St. Peter’s Church, Drogheda.
On the 28th of August the quartet performed in Dublin City Hall. This included a second performance Simon Cullen’s I was listening to the Angelus.
Their debut album, Deleted Pieces was released in March 2005. The disc includes works by Henryk Gorecki, Kevin Volans, Leo Brouwer and the Redneck Manifesto. They are currently working on two releases. The first is a Music Network/Arts Council funded recording of works by established and emerging Irish composers for classical guitar quartet. They have recently completed mixing a recording of arrangements for electric guitar quartet by internationally established composers.
Most recently they have commissioned and premiered works by Kevin Volans (Four Guitars) and Donnacha Dennehy (Tilt- for electric guitar quartet at the DEAF festival) They have also premiered works by John McLachlan (Filiment of Memory), David Flynn (Chimurenga) and Sean Clancy (Shrinking of the Aura)
In August 2010 they worked with the Spatial Music Collective in a concert of new works at Smock Alley Theatre. For this concert the four guitar amplifiers were positioned in the corners of the theatre with electronic parts distributed through an eight-channel surround sound speaker array. This included new works by Linda Buckley, Simon Cullen, Michael Flemming and Jonathan Nangle.
The DGQ have recently been awarded an Arts Council of Ireland grant for commissions. The first of which is a new work for electric guitar quartet by New York composer Michael Gordon.
White Man Sleeps constitutes the bulk of the DGQ’s first album Deleted Pieces. This recording has received critical acclaim and demonstrates the potential of contemporary guitar quartet music. It also includes works by Leo Brouwer and Irish instrumental rock band, The Redneck Manifesto.
‘All the pieces share a luxurious quality of sound that is partly due to the acoustic of the recording venue, partly to the use of guitars with extra bass and treble range, and mostly due to the colour that these players coax out of the instruments.’
John MacLachlan - Journal of Music - April 06
Their arrangement of Summa by Arvo Pärt is included on the latest LCMS release Path.Pärt was involved during the preparation and arrangement stages of this recording. The recording took place in Grouse Lodge Studios.
Their commission of Four Guitars by Kevin Volans was included on the Contemporary Music Centre’s 2009 CD release.
They were also included on singer-songwriter, Jeff Martin’s 2008 remix album.
They have just finished a Music Network funded disc of works by Irish composers. This includes pieces by Kevin Volans, John MacLachlan and Donnacha Dennehy among others. This is mastered and ready for release in the coming year.