Barry O’Halpin (b.1987) is a composer and performer based in Dublin, merging approaches and formative influences from contemporary classical, experimental rock, electronic music and jazz contexts. He is an electric guitarist with Crash Ensemble, and a member of Dublin experimental rock trio Alarmist.

His inventive approach to the electric guitar frequently lies at the heart of his ensemble and solo works, with pieces such as Wingform, Lipids and Stridula exploring possibilities of the instrument to unique and atmospheric effect, through unusual techniques, timbres and microtonal tunings. These and other works have often drawn upon natural-world sounds and phenomena as sources of a sort of wild, uncanny musicality to be brought into fusion with more familiar elements. The result is an individual sound world that is crawling with detail and yet direct in its language.

In 2018–2020 Barry was a Composer-in-Residence with Crash Ensemble and the Arts & Humanities Artist-in-Residence at Parity Studios, University College Dublin. During this period he was commissioned by Crash to compose Wingform, a large-scale work for ensemble and solo electric guitar. The premiere performance was live streamed during lockdown at New Music Dublin 2021, with the live audience premiere at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2022, the UK’s largest contemporary and experimental music festival.

In March 2021 Crash Records released the Lipids portrait EP, while his composition Hox was released on flautist Lina Andonovska’s debut solo album with Diatribe Records. Recent projects have included ensemble arrangements for songs by Adrian Crowley (Treaty Songs, NCH, 2021) and Diamanda La Berge Dramm (New Music Dublin 2022).

Other commissions and collaborations have included Kirkos, SlapBang, Bastard Assignments, Michelle O’Rourke, Chamber Choir Ireland, Ret Frem Ensemble, Fishamble Sinfonia. His work has been performed at festivals including New Music Dublin, Tokyo Wonder Site, Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival, UCD Text/Sound/Performance and Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Performance highlights with Crash Ensemble include: Wingform at Huddersfield 2022; West Cork Chamber Music Festival 2022; premiere and Irish tour of Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh opera The First Child, 2021-22; solo guitar concert at Other Voices 2019; Irish premiere of Fausto Romitelli’s Professor Bad Trip, 2019; world premiere of Daníel Bjarnason’s Songs, 2020; festivals including New Music Dublin, Kilkenny Arts, Music Nova (Helsinki) and GAIDA (Vilnius); Crashlands 2017 Irish tour, premiering works by Ann Cleare, Tansy Davies, David Lang, Jennifer Walshe and Michael Gordon and more.

His band Alarmist has built an international following over the course of four records since 2011, with press coverage including All About Jazz, Irish Times, Kerrang! and the Sunday Times and radio including BBC 6 Tom Ravenscroft & Gideon Coe, BBC 3 Late Junction and Jon Schaefer’s New Sounds WNYC. Live highlights have included Ottawa Jazz (Canada), InJazz (Netherlands), 12 Points (Sweden), Match & Fuse (Zurich) and Vinterfest (Denmark).

He has been a Guitar Fellow with Bang On A Can at Villa Musica, (Germany, 2016) and the Summer Music Festival (USA, 2017).

In 2021 he was electric guitarist in Irish National Opera’s production of Amanda Feery’s A Thing I Cannot Name, and Caitríona O’Leary’s Anakronos ensemble.