“Brian Irvine takes polystylism to new planes rupturing taxonomic barriers while scaring the bejaybers out of the diehards."
“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.”
Composer/conductor Brian Irvine 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, films, 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, jazz, thrash, trash, cartoon and people and often takes the form of giant super structures - 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 7 day performance installation of 3000 collected objects, symphony orchestra, choir, intervention performers and soloists in Nest (the Northern Ireland Artists Taking The lead commission for the London 2012 Olympics) or the layering of 500 singing children, symphony orchestra, live shadow puppet animation and narrator in Bluebottle or Montana Strange the 50 minute homage to filmmaker David lynch for symphony orchestra, his own 12 piece ensemble, turntables, two conductors and free improviser -Paul Dunmall.
“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.”
In 2015 he was named as recipient of the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Composers Award and became the first Music Laureate for the City of Belfast. He was also Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra (2008-2012) and Professor of Creative Arts at the University of Ulster (2011-present).
He has been commissioned by many international artists and organisations including, BBC Radio 3 (UK), RTE National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland), Ulster Orchestra (NI), Welsh National Opera (UK) Homecoming Festival (Moscow), BBC Concert Orchestra (UK), Red Note Ensemble (UK), Valle d'Aosta Symphony Orchestra (Italy), National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (UK), Northern Sinfonia (UK), Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Scotland), Northern Ireland Opera (UK), Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra of Chicago (USA), Channel Four (UK), Ulster Orchestra (UK), 4-Mality percussion ensemble (UK), Irish Chamber Orchestra (Ireland), PRS Foundation and the London 2012 Olympics Festival (UK) to name but a few.
Much of his work has involved close collaborations with artists from a diverse range of disciplines including: Seamus Heaney (poet), Eduard Bersudsky (sculptor), Jennifer Walshe (composer/vocalist), Cy Twombly (painter), John McIlduff (filmmaker/director), Joanna Macgregor (piano), Jari Nemenin (filmmaker/director), Joel Simon (filmmaker/animator), Matthew Robbins (animator/artist), LAU (BBC Folk Award Winners), Ivor Cutler (poet/ singer), Keiji Haino (guitar), David Holmes (producer/composer/DJ), Paul Dunmall (saxophone/reeds/bagpipes), Darragh Morgan (violin), Owen McCafferty (playwright), Duke Special (singer/songwriter), Snow Patrol (pop band).
He has won a number of awards for his work including a British Composers Award for the Welsh National Opera commission: The Tailors Daughter, BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award for best new work: Interrupting Cutler, MCPS Joyce Dixey Award, Major Individual Artist Award (Arts Council of Northern Ireland), the Irish Allianz Arts and Business Award: Shelter me from the rain.
" 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”
Together with his own 12 piece ensemble (BBC Radio 3 Music Award winners) Brian has conducted and toured extensively throughout USA, Russia, France, Portugal, Germany, Scotland, Malta, Cyrus, Poland, Scotland, Ireland, England, Belgium and the Netherlands appearing at some of the world’s leading international music festivals/venues.
In 2009 together with filmmaker John McIlduff he formed the multi discipline production company Dumbworld. Since then Dumbworld has worked closely with a broad range of professional and non professional practitioners across all arts disciplines and produced a large body of work that includes several full scale operas, orchestral oratorios, feature films, documentaries, short animated and film operas, installations, theatre work and large scale orchestral participatory works. Together they have won a number of international awards including the Audience Favourite Award at the Capital Irish Film Festival, Washington and the Best Film and Audience Award at the Florence International Film Festival 2012.
Recent works includes the series of 5 short operas: Things We Throw Away performed in 40 locations through out the streets of Dublin and Belfast and the animated orchestral children’s oratorio Bluebottle performed by 1200 primary school children from 40 schools, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin; Ulster Hall, Belfast and the City of Derry Choral Festival in 2015.
Other major orchestral works includes the collaboration with poet Seamus Heaney: Praise Aloud the Trees (25’) for double orchestra and choir commissioned by BBC Radio 3 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 as part of the RTE featured composer series at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, Jan 2015.
He has just completed a tour of Ireland, Northern Ireland, London and Scotland with a new chamber work: 13 Vices - a collaboration with composer/vocalist Jennifer Walshe and is currently working on a new large-scale opera based on the life of Rosemary Kennedy and a new orchestral oratoria based on the life of maverick avaitor Lilian Bland to be premiered in Belfast, with the Ulster Orchestra and 200 women of all ages in Feb 2017.
13 Vices has recently been selected to be part of the PRS New Music Biennial with perfromanes scheduled in July 2017 in Hull (City of Culture 2017) and at the South Bank in London..
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 ...!