Brian -Big bang 2 NCH.jpeg

Born in Belfast Brian's body of work reflects an obsessive love of music creation in all its forms and includes operas, orchestral works, large-scale oratorios, installations, film, theatre, dance scores as well as ensemble, solo, chamber works. His music is a highly personal concoction of punk, improvisation and contemporary classical - difficult to describe - this how others have described it ....

“Some of the most exhilarating and imaginative music you'll ever hope to hear…… musical play in the highest sense: exuberant, spontaneous and irresistibly alive.”   
Washington Post  

".......a great composer who draws from various sources and streams: Ives or Copland-like Americana to more dissonant European extremes one of the most successful combinations of modern classical and modern jazz without any of those stale third stream cliches that only hard-nosed critics complain… a gem.” 

Downbeat Magazine 

" animated musical experience, full of frenetic time changes, fearsome collisions, and instant recoveries, wild excesses, and tender reveries……exquisite”     

The Guardian 

".....his mind is a microcosm of huge energy and chaos, intricately engineered to blow your head off!"

BBC Music Magazine

He has been commissioned by many international orchestras, opera companies, performers, theatres, festivals and has toured extensively with his own 12 piece ensemble.He has won a number of awards for his music including - British Composers Award for Opera, MCPS Joyce Dixey Composition Prize, the BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award and the 2011 Allianz Arts Award for "best use of music in the community". His Junk opera Postcards form Dumbworld  was shortlisted for the Irish Times Opera Award (2011) and his orchestral dance piece Secret Cinema was nominated for the BBC Radio 3 Listeners Award. The huge orchestral children's oratorio  Rain Falling Up was also shortlisted for a British Composers Award in 2012.

 ".Exhilarating stuff….Brian Irvine’s body of work is an example of the musical   treasures half hidden in the cracks between the categories….smart music in a culture that often over rewards the dumb and/or the well connected….the Bath festival audience banged the tables to demand an encore”  

The Guardian 


Together with his own ensemble (BBC Radio 3 Music Award winners) he has toured extensively throughout USA, Russia, France, Portugal, Germany, Scotland, Malta, Cyrus, Poland, Scotland, Ireland, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands and has appeared at some of the world’s leading international music festivals/venues including several appearances at the Bath International Music Festival (UK), Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank (London, UK), Gulbenkian Institute (Portugal), Washington National Library of Congress (USA), Ouest Nord Ouest Festival, (France), Glasgow International Festival (UK), Kościół Św. Jana, Gdańsk (Poland), Festival d'été de Valence (France), Festival Sous les Pommiers, (France) Homecoming Festival (Russia), Dublin Festival (Ireland), Moving on Music Festival (UK), Sonorities Festival of New Music (UK) and The International House of Music (Moscow, Russia).


Brian has been commissioned by - Welsh National Opera (Wales), Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Scotland), Northern Sinfonia (England), RTE National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland), Valle d'Aosta Symphony Orchestra (Italy), Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra of Chicago (USA), BBC Concert Orchestra (England), Ulster Orchestra (N. Ireland), Irish Chamber Orchestra (Ireland), National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (UK), Scottish Ballet (Scotland), Wexford Festival Opera (Ireland), London 2012 Olympics Festival (UK), 4-mality Percussion Ensemble (UK),

BBC Radio 3 (UK), Channel Four (UK), Northern Ireland Opera (UK), Red Note Ensemble (UK), RTE National Concert Orchestra (Ireland), Isabelle O’Connor (piano, Ireland),  Homecoming Festival (Moscow, Russia), British Council (UK), Opera Theatre Company (Ireland), Sharmanka Kenetic Theatre Company (Russia}, Maiden Voyage Dance Company (UK), Echo Echo Dance Company (UK), British Council (UK), COMA (England), Bath International Music Festival (England), Music Network (Ireland),

The Roald Dahl Foundation (UK), Ulster Youth Orchestra (Ireland), Wide Open Opera (Ireland), Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music (UK), Glasgow International Jazz Festival (UK), The Sage, Gateshead (England), Lyric Theatre (Ireland), Carlow County Council (Ireland), BBC Radio 4 (UK), Live Music Now (UK), South Asian Youth Orchestra (UK), National Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain (UK) and National Youth Choir of Great Britain UK),


Much of Brian's output has involved close collaborations with  artists and performers from many varied disciplines these have included - Seamus Heaney (poet, Ireland), Cy Twombly (artist, USA), Keiji Haino (guitar, Japan), Joanna Macgregor (piano, UK), Jari Nemenin (filmmaker/director, Finland), Joel Simon (producer/director/animator, UK), LAU (BBC Folk Award Winners, UK), David Holmes (producer/composer/DJ, UK),

Paul Dunmall (saxophone/reeds/bagpipes, UK), Isabelle O’Connor (piano, USA), John McIllduff (filmmaker/director, UK), Darragh Morgan (violin, UK), Geraoid Mclaughlin (poet, Ireland), Eduard Bersudsky (sculptor, Russia),

Keith Tippet (piano, UK), Steve Noble (turntables, UK), Matthew Bourne (piano, UK), Joe Morris (electric guitar, USA), John McCluskey (animator, Ireland), Paul Rogers (bass, France), Owen McCafferty (writer, UK), Billy Leftford (poet, UK), John Binias (writer, UK), Billy Jenkins (guitar, UK).


Brian was Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra for four years and is co-artistic director of Dumbworld - a multi disciplinary arts production company he set up with writer/director/producer John McIllduff.


Brian is a passionate believer in the wider values involved in the creation and performance of high quality art and has built work and led over 500 composition/improvisation/performance workshops with people in care, amateurs, young offenders, hospitals, prisoners, professionals, unemployed adults, residential homes, primary, secondary, third level students, orchestras, disability groups, teachers, bankers, choirs, alzheimer groups, the musical, the not so musical, all over Ireland, UK, Europe, USA and Russia.

Much of Brian’s creative output is based on devising and creating ambitious interdisciplinary performance/composition works that are centred and built around the skills, lives and interests of different members of the community. These have included: 


NEST  (2012) - NEST was the Northern Ireland Artists Taking the Lead commission for the London 2012 Olympics. It was the largest public art performance/installation ever undertaken in Northern Ireland and  involved over 3000 people of all ages and backgrounds from all over Northern Ireland

Shelter Me From the Rain – an opera for Carlow (2011) -Performed by 100 people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities from Carlow and the RTE  National Chamber Orchestra  – Winner of the 2012 Allianz Arts Awards for best use of music in the community.  

Beyond the March (2013) - a composition/performance work that was created in collaboration with four protestant marching bands  based in Derry/Londonderry – CAW, Burntullet, Pride of the Orange and Blue and Eastbank protestant flute band. 

World premiere - Playhouse Theatre - Derry City of Culture 2013 


Recent work 

In February this year his large scale work for orchestra, and violin - A mon seul desir was premiered by Darragh Morgan (violin) and RTE National Symphony Orchestra at a special RTE Horizons/RTE Radio concert based on Brian's music.

In the  summer of 2014 his series of 5 short operas Things we throw away (produced by Wide Open Opera in association with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and Dublin City Council) was performed in 20 locations all over Dublin and Bluebottle a large orchestral children's oratorio with live animation was premiered at the Bord Gais Theatre Dublin with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and 500 singing children from Wicklow. 

In Dec 2014 the Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick premiered The oldest woman in Limerick a unique opera/theatre/documentary work and the ARK - a cultural centre for chldren, together with Music Network, toured his children's piece  A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing to 32 venues across Ireland. Bother pieces were written in collaboration with his co-artistic director at Dumbworld - John McIllduff.

Brian is currently working on 13 Vices written in collaboration with Jennifer Walshe for Red Note Ensemble, Paul Rogers (doublebass), Paul Dunmall (sax), Mark Sunders (perc). 13 Vices will be touring UK/Ireland in April 2015. He is also working on a new large scale multi disciplinary work based on the life of Rosemary Kennedy with words by Roman Laurence