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Michael O'Neill

Composer & Piper

Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble

Michael O'Neill Composer

Michael OʼNeill is a Vancouver composer and musician. Following studies in music composition in Calgary, he studied with Gilles Tremblay in Montréal, and Martin Bartlett, Rudolf Komorous and Barry Truax in Vancouver (MFA, 1993).

He has written works for Vancouverʼs Gamelan Madu Sari and Gamelan Alligator Joy, Uzume Taiko Ensemble, Silk Road Music, bass clarinetist Lori Freedman, poet Sheri-D Wilson, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Toronto's Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, Karen Jamieson Dance Co., choreographer Crystal Pite (Ballett Frankfurt), Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble, and Beledrone, his own 'ʼnew music' bagpipe and gamelan ensemble.

Arriving in Vancouver in 1982, Michael began composing a series of works for bagpipes, the most recent of which are: Jedaya, commissioned by the SFU Pipe Band; Metaforest and Field for the Evergreen Club Gamelan and harmonically adapted bagpipes; and Luffness, a collaboratively composed work for Uzume Taiko and Mearingstone. Four works from this series were released (2006) as Ontophony: New Music for Highland Pipes and Percussion on Songlines Recordings.

Michael is a founding member of Vancouver Community Gamelan Society, and has studied a variety of gamelan forms in Vancouver and Bali, Indonesia. He works with several intercultural ensembles including Gamelan Turtle Bliss, and Beledrone—an ensemble of Balinese processional gamelan, Scottish bagpipes, and Ukrainian bilij holos-style singing. Drawn to interdisciplinary works, he composed Ventriloquial Investigations for chamber-sized gamelan, ventriloquial puppet, with digital projection by Sammy Chien. His latest work, Show on Earth: Wallace Line was premiered in September 2021 by Gamelan Turtle Bliss. 

In addition to his work as a composer, Michael's most notable collaborations include Mearingstone's recording Antophony (2006) featuring taiko pieces performed by Uzume. Michael's work continues to push boundaries and explore new territories in music composition.

michael oneill ontophony
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