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John O'Brien

is a conductor, director and composer who lives in Cork.

He has worked on over sixty different productions of opera and music theatre in Ireland, UK and Canada, and has toured across Europe, Japan and China.

John composed and directed the operas Morrígan – at Cork Opera House in 2022; and The Nightingale and the Rose – which premiered with an Irish tour in 2018. He directed and co-composed music for the play Heart of a Dog at The Everyman and Dublin Theatre Festival. John is acclaimed for directing & conducting the operas Faust, Der Vampyr, Orpheus, and Pagliacci at the Everyman.

Other compositions include Ecclesiastes – premiered by the Carducci String Quartet and Derbhle Crotty; Lullaby for the City (In a Time of Pandemic) for chamber orchestra – premiered at Cork Midsummer Festival; Easter 1916 – premiered by Fiona Shaw and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra; scores for the feature films Tree Keeper and Shem the Penman Sings Again – premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh; as well as music for plays, short films, choral works, piano pieces and numerous operatic, choral and orchestral arrangements.

Other projects include conducting the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra – most recently in a double bill of two Beethoven Symphonies (III and V), as well as concert performances of 13 different operas since 2016, and numerous other concerts. He directed the dance film Inner Landscapes; has been guest conductor with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland; and plays piano with Karen Underwood.

John and Éadaoin O'Donoghue are working with Creative Producer Kate Guelke to develop new work, with support from Cork Opera House and the Arts Council.

John is composing the score for Padraig Trehy's new feature film, Stupid August, funded by the Arts Council.


He is also composing the score for Bob Jackson's new documentary.

John is directing La tragédie de Carmen, with Niamh O'Sullivan in the title role, at Cork Opera House on Wednesday 14 February. Tickets and details available here:

John is also co-directing Summer Revels at Cork Opera House from Wednesday 24 July. Tickets and details available here:

He is curating the music concert series, Music Of..., at The Everyman from February 2024. Tickets and details available here:

John will conduct Brahms Symphony 1 and Stanford Stabat Mater with the Cork School of Music Symphony Orchestra and Fleischmann Choir at the opening concert of Cork International Choral Festival on Wednesday 1 May. Tickets and details available here:


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