Michael O’Neill

Audio Samples & Notes: Michael O’Neill

1. Luffness – (2000/2005) (15′)
Music by: Michael O’Neill, Boyd Seiichi Grealy, Bonnie Soon, Stuart MacNeill, Jason Overy, Alcvin Ramos
3 Scottish Highland Bagpipes, 3 Japanese Taiko, Shakuhachi/Didjeridu

Composer’s Notes:
Scottish musican Phil Cunningham once suggested that taiko and highland pipes were a natural combination, and that a mist-covered moor would be the ideal setting in which to encounter a pipe band and taiko ensemble in full dress. This image is our point of departure.
The title comes from Douglas Adams and John Lloyd’s book The Meaning of Liff, a small dictionary wherein words that are “loafing about on signposts” are assigned meanings drawn from those many “common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize but for which no words exist.” Luffness (also a town on the east coast of Scotland) is defined as the “Hearty feeling that comes from walking on the moors with gumboots and cold ears.”

Michael O’Neill is a composer/performer originally from the Shaganappi Escarpment area near the south bank of the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta. Following studies in music composition in Calgary, he studied with Gilles Tremblay in Montréal, and Martin Bartlett, Rudolf Komorous and Barry Truax in Vancouver. He has written works for Vancouver’s Gamelan Madu Sari, Uzume Taiko, Silk Road Music, bass clarinetist Lori Freedman, Winnipeg’s Stirling Pipe Band, poet Sheri-D Wilson, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Toronto’s Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, Karen Jamieson Dance Co., Maja Gender Ensemble and the Mearingstone Pipe Band, his own ‘New Music’ bagpipe ensemble. Areas of collaboration include performance poetry, dance, mime, and ventriloquism.

Over the years he has composed a series of works for bagpipes, including: 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 the Mearingstone Pipe Band. He was awarded a Canada Council ‘Specialized Music Sound Recording Grant’ to produce a recording of four works from this series. They were recently recorded and released (2005-2006) on an album called Ontophony.

Michael has been active performing with and composing for Gamelan instruments. He was an active (and founding) member of the Vancouver Community Gamelan playing both Javanese gamelan (Gamelan Madu Sari and the chamber group Alligator Joy), and Balinese gender wayang (the Batel Ensemble). He is currently a member of Maja Gender, a gender wayang quartet which specializes in new music. His work Lessons of the Garden: Gateway, Path, Waterway, is included on Gamelan Madu Sari’s recently released CD ‘New Nectar’.