Belfast born composer Brian Irvine's work is a highly personal concoction of contemporary classical, the fixed and the free, punk, junk and people. His sound world is a mashed up, explosive concoction of sound and music and life in all its forms. It is a world that combines extremes, a world full of contradictions where the precious and the junk, the poetic and the brash co exist in equally disrespectful amounts.
“Brian Irvine takes polystylism to new planes rupturing taxonomic barriers while scaring the bejaybers out of the diehards." Sunday Times
His body of work includes opera, orchestral work, large-scale participatory oratorios, installations, film, theatre, dance pieces as well as ensemble, solo and chamber music.
“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
He was Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra (2008 - 2012) and in 2015 was appointed first Music Laureate for the City of Belfast. Also in 2015 he was awarded the prestigious 2015 Paul Hamlyn Composers Award.
Much of his work involves the creation of giant super structures that layer ensembles, orchestras, free improvisers, performers of all ages, backgrounds and experiences, choirs, opera, installation, animation, amateurs, dancers, professionals, film, classical, punk, poetry, cartoon, thrash and trash.
As in the head on collision of two symphony orchestras, improvising choir and two conductors in the study of madness that is Praise aloud the trees (collaboration with Seamus Heaney) or the concoction of free improvisers, contemporary classical trio, conduction, theatre and voice in 13 Vices (collaboration with Jennifer Walshe) or the layering of 500 singing children, symphony orchestra, live shadow puppet animation and narrator in Bluebottle or Montana Strange the 50 minute hommage to filmmaker David lynch written for symphony orchestra, his own 12 piece ensemble, turntables, two conductors and free improviser Paul Dunmall.
His music has been performed and commissioned by many international orchestras, performers, theatres, festivals, opera companies all over the world. Together with his own 12-piece 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 performing at some of the world’s leading contemporary classical/ jazz festivals/venues.
"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” - an animated musical experience, full of frenetic time changes, fearsome collisions, and instant recoveries, wild excesses and tender reveries……exquisite”
He has been nominated for four British Academy of Composers Award and won the 2008 award for Best New Opera (Welsh National Opera commission - The Tailors Daughter). He has also won the MCPS Joyce Dixey Composition Prize, BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award (for best new work - Interrupting Cutler) and the 2011 Allianz Arts Award (best use of music in the community for the participatory opera: Shelter Me From The Rain) His Junk opera Postcards from 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 orchestral children's oratorio Rain Falling Up was shortlisted for a British Composers Award in 2012.
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),
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 IRVINE ENSEMBLE
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 is a passionate believer in making brilliant exciting art with anyone who is up for it and has collaborated and created work with adults in in care, amateurs, young offenders, ex-paramilataries, prisoners, professionals, unemployed, residential care homes, blind, deaf and autistic adults and children, primary, secondary, third level students, professional orchestras, bankers, choirs, alzheimer groups all over Ireland,UK, Europe, USA and Russia.
He is crap at DIY but excellent at doing rubics cubes and is the second best pancake maker in Ireland as determined (albeit questionably!) by the best pancake maker in Ireland......you know who you are!... I am coming for ya!....it's not over yet! )
" My only aim is to make stuff that please's me somehow ....."