“Brian Irvine takes polystylism to new planes rupturing taxonomic barriers while scaring the bejaybers out of the diehards." Sunday Times
“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
Brian was born in Belfast. His huge body of work reflects an obsessive love of music creation in all its forms and includes operas, orchestral works, large-scale participatory work, film, multi-media installations, dance works as well as ensemble, solo, and chamber pieces. His music is a highly personal concoction of contemporary classical, punk, improvisation, thrash, trash and people.
“Mr. Irvine is a great composer who draws from various sources and streams: Ives or Copland-like Americana to more dissonant European extremes - without any of those stale third stream cliches that only hard-nosed critics complain about … a real gem.” Downbeat Magazine
His music has been performed and commissioned by many international artists and organisations including Welsh National Opera (UK), BBC Concert Orchestra (UK), Joanna Macgregor (UK), Red Note Ensemble (UK), Northern Sinfonia (England), Northern Ireland Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Scotland), RTE National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland), Northern Ireland Opera (UK), Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra of Chicago (USA), Ulster Orchestra, 4-Mality percussion ensemble (UK), Irish Chamber Orchestra (Ireland), National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (UK) BBC Radio 3 (UK), PRS Foundation and London 2012 Olympics Festival (UK) to name but a few.
Much of his output has involved collaborations with artists from a diverse range of disciplines including: Cy Twombly (artist, USA), Seamus Heaney (poet, Ireland), Eduard Bersudsky (sculptor), Jennifer Walshe (composer/vocalist), John McIllduff (filmmaker/director), Joanna Macgregor(piano, UK), Jari Nemenin (filmmaker/director, Finland), Joel Simon (filmmaker/animator, UK), Matthew Robbins (animator/artist), LAU (BBC Folk Award Winners, UK), Ivor Cutler (poet, singer, UK), David Holmes
Brian was Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra (2008-2012) and was recently appointed a first Music Laureate for the City of Belfast. In 2012 he was awarded an MBE for services to music and in 2015 was named as recipient of the prestigious UK Paul Hamlyn Foundation Composers Award
He has won a number of awards for his work including four British Composers Award nominations - winning the 2008 award for opera for Opera for the Welsh National Opera commission: The Tailors Daughter, BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award, MCPS Joyce Dixey Award, Major Individual Artist Award (Arts Council of Northern Ireland) and 2011 Irish Allianz Arts and Business Award for “best use of creativity in the community.
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, contemporary classical, punk, poetry and cartoon.
Recent works include the "head on" collision of two symphony orchestras, choir and two conductors in the study of madness that is Praise aloud the trees (a collaboration with poet Seamus Heaney commissioned by BBC Radio 3) or the concoction of free improvisers, contemporary classical trio, conduction, theatre and voice in 13 Vices (a collaboration with Jennifer Walshe) or the layering of 500 singing children, symphony orchestra, live shadow puppet animation and narraton in Bluebottle or Montana Strange - the BBC Radio 3 commission and 50 minute homage to filmmaker David lynch for extended symphony orchestra, 12 piece ensemble, turntables, two conductors and free improviser Paul Dunmall.
" 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, exhilarating stuff” The Guardian
Other recent works include a series of 5 short street operas Things We Throw Away for soloists, choir and orchestra which were performed in 40 locations throughout the streets of Dublin and Belfast and the large scale work for orchestra and violin: A Mon Seul Desir which was premiered by Darragh Morgan (violin) and RTE National Symphony Orchestra at a special RTE Horizons concert programmed by Brian as featured composer.
Brian is rubbish at DIY, 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'm coming for you - some day that pancake crown will be mine - ah ha ha ha ha ...!