Barry O’ Halpin is a Dublin-based composer, member of Alarmist and electric guitarist with Crash Ensemble.
In 2018-20 he was Arts & Humanities Artist in Residence at Parity Studios, University College Dublin, as well as Composer-In-Residence with Crash Ensemble, composing several works for solo guitar & small and large ensembles.
Written for diverse ensembles, his compositions frequently draw inspiration from the sounds and patterns of natural phenomena, weaving musical materials from animal choruses, electromagnetic spectra and the imagery of microbiology.
His highly textural music is shot through with a crawling, organic energy, often preoccupied with unfamiliar microtonal sonorities, fluctuating rhythms, and liminal timbres. He frequently explores new uses of the electric guitar alongside classical instrumentation, employing invented tunings and unorthodox techniques to create a sound-world less familiar than the sum of its parts.
His piece Lipids was written for and performed by Crash Ensemble in their 2015-16 Born in the 80s tour, and featured in their 2016 Composing the Island Music Marathon at the NCH. In 2015, Toric for string orchestra was commissioned and performed by Fishamble Sinfonia & guest director Darragh Morgan, and earlier that year his Miniature for piano was performed by Raymond Deane in the Kevin Barry Room. NCH. Both as composer and guitarist, he has worked closely with Crash, Kirkos & Bastard Assignments, and curated the latter's 2014 Dublin show.
As a member of Crash, he has premiered works by composers such as Tansy Davies, Ann Cleare, David Lang & Michael Gordon and performed at festivals Musica Nova (Finland)and Gaida (Lithuania).
He was Guitar Fellow at Bang On A Can’s 2017 Summer Music Festival in the Massachussetts, USA, as well as their November 2016 Villa Musica residency in Germany.
He is a composer and performer with experimental rock band Alarmist, whose 2015 LP Popular Demain, along with two previous EPs, have gained them an international following. Alarmist have gained acclaim for their live shows, with tours in the UK, Europe & Canada, including festivals Ottawa Jazz, Arctangent (UK), 12 Points (SWE/IR) and Match & Fuse (FR/UK). Media coverage has included BBC Radio, WNYC/NPR, All About Jazz, The Guardian and Nialler9.
He is currently a PhD candidate at Queen’s University Belfast with Simon Mawhinney. In 2013 he obtained an MMus (Distinction) in Composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London under Gwyn Pritchard & Paul Newland,
In 2010 he was awarded the Geoffrey Singleton prize for his composition portfolio upon graduation from Music in Trinity College Dublin, where he studied with composers Donnacha Dennehy and Sean Reed.
(photo by Sophie Murphy)
Barry O'Halpin’s tracks