Shaun Davey was born in Belfast in about 1949. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in the history of Art in 1971. He then took a master's degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. In the late 1970s, he made his first recording, "Davey and Morris," with Donal Lunny and others. He worked as a composer of advertising jingles, including "The Pride of the Herd" for the National Dairy Council.
Symphonic folk music
Davey's reputation is built on four large-scale concert works based on Irish history, all using bagpipes and folk tunes. "The Brendan Voyage" (1983) depicts a journey to America allegedly made by Saint Brendan. The style is similar to that of film composer John Williams. "The Pilgrim" (1984) is set in a vaguely medieval world where the Irish, the Bretons and Scots explore the seas of western Europe. It exists in two versions; the 1983 recording made at the Lorient Interceltic Festival; and an expanded version recorded mostly in the 1990s. "Granuaile" (1985) tells the story of Grace O'Malley, an Irish pirate queen in the 16th century. It has more songs than the previous works and features the voice of Rita Connolly, who would soon become his wife. Donal Lunny was again a session musician in it. Finally, "The Relief of Derry Symphony" (1990) has a more obvious symphonic structure. It is based around the 17th centurySiege of Derry, showing the Protestants outside and the Catholics inside the beleaguered city. Whereas the previous three works involved uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn, this one uses a Scottish bagpipe band, who enter the auditorium from behind the audience.
Davey as film composer
Davey had a talent that was obviously suitable for films. His most famous film score has been "Waking Ned Devine" (1999), with contributions from Nollaig Casey and Arty McGlynn. His other scores include "Twelfth Night", "The Tailor of Panama" and "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". For many people his greatest work remains "Granuaile", partly because of the abundance of melodies, and partly because of Rita Connolly's soaring soprano voice. Liam O'Flynn's solo album "Out To Another Side" (1993) had several tracks arranged by Davey.
Categories: Irish composers | 20th century classical composers | Living classical composers
ShaunDavey can be proud of the updating of his work, it was simply superb.
This year ShaunDavey reworked it for the 30th year of the Festival and all in all it was the concert not be missed.
"ShaunDavey's international fame as a composer is due largely to his debut work, The Brendan Voyage, but at last night's RTE Proms concert devoted to his music, the highlight was unquestionably the less widely renowned Relief of Derry Symphony.
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