Brian O’Neill: versatile percussionist, composer, bandleader
“…percussion master and musical polymath…” Boston Phoenix
“Brian O'Neill isn't just a great musician, he's also a first-rate composer.”Tony Sachs, Huffington Post
“…If John Zorn is an exotica Picasso, O'Neill is his Georges-Braque counterpart in cubism's transposition to music...and may be...a stronger exoticist than Zorn.…” Gordon Marshall, AllAboutJazz
Performance Highlights (as percussionist)
- Kennedy Center: Klezwoods on Millenium Stage, November 2012.
- Montréal Jazz Festival: Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica on main stage (2 shows), June 2012.
- Boston Opera House: Kristin Chenoweth, June 2012; Motown the Musical, February 2015.
- Providence Performing Arts Center: Motown the Musical, November 2015.
- World Premiere: Chris Vennel's "Losing the Shackles" (for percussion ensemble and percussion soloist): Guest artist (soloist) with Northern Arizona University Percussion Ensemble, April 2011.
- Donna Summer's Crayons Tour: Gilford, NH and Boston, MA, July 2008.
- Boston Pops "WGBH Orchestra": Opening ceremonies of WGBH TV's new studios, 2007.
- Carnegie Hall, NYC: Newton Symphony Orchestra, 2002.
- Concerto competition soloist: Sun Cities Symphony of the West Valley (Sun City, AZ), 1999.
- Notable festival appearances: Arizona Opera "Ring Cycle" Orchestra, B.O.M.B Festival, Boston Jewish Music Festival, Festival de México
Press for Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica
2012 Best World Music Act: “…a rigorous classical-jazz hybrid; are you listening Keith Lockhart?…” Boston Phoenix
“…deliciously entertaining…” Wall Street Journal
2011 Rising Star Big Band: “…incredible musicianship and artistic direction…” Frank Alyer, DOWNBEAT
“…incredible precision and passion [at the Montreal Jazz Festival]…” JazzIz
Ensembles: Jazz, world, chamber, eclectic, & pop
- Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica - The 22pc Esquivel big band (arranger, artistic director, percussionist, pianist. 2005-present)
- Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica - Global jazz quintet (composer, artistic director, vibraphonist. 2009-present)
- Ishna: celtic/modern (drums, bodhran, 2016-present)
- The Why (Bert Seager) (jazz quartet) (2012-present)
- Jeni Jol: (Balkan-inspired jazz) (percussionist, 2009-present)
- Klezwoods (klezmer ensemble) (percussionist, 2009-present)
- David Wax Museum (guest drummer & percussionist, 2009-present)
- Previous/occasional performances prior to 2010 with cordis, Aljashu (Sephardic music ensemble), Birdsong at Morning (folk), Fa Diyez Ensemble: (Ottoman Classical ensemble), Choros Com Chocolate: (Brazilian choro ensemble), Newpoli (Italian folk), Juanito Pascual (flamenco), Kafana (balkan jazz), La Tuza (Mexican folk), Jazz Factory Orchestra (big band), Orchestra of This (jazz), Gato Malo (rock), WAITIKI (exotica), Archie Bell and the Drells, The Del-Larks, Laura Lee, Peter Erskine and Wallace Roney.
Ensembles: Orchestral (section percussion sub list unless otherwise noted)
- Boston Modern Orchestra Project (2017-present)
- Orchestra Pro Musica (Albany) (timpani) (2016-present)
- Springfield Symphony (2016-present)
- Albany Symphony (percussion, drumset) (2016-present)
- Glens Falls Symphony (Principal, Drumset for 2016 July 4th Pops)
- South Florida Symphony (2013-present)
- Boston Festival Orchestra (featuring members of the Boston Pops)
- Various Massachusetts orchestras including Mercury Orchestra, Hillyer Festival Orchestra, Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, Charles River Sinfonietta Orchestra, Brahms Society Orchestra, Concord Orchestra, New Bedford Symphony, Quincy Symphony, Cape Ann Symphony, Newton Symphony, Longy School of Opera, New England Philharmonic, Longwood Symphony, Wellesley Symphony, Melrose Symphony, Summer MIT Symphony Orchestra
- Various Arizona orchestras including Flagstaff Symphony (principal percussionist), Arizona Opera Ring Cycle Orchestra, Flagstaff Festival of the Arts Orchestra
Ensembles: Musical Theater (drumset & percussion)
- Hanover Theater (Worceste, MA): Motown the Musical (Fall 2017) (percussion)
- Providence Performing Arts Center: Motown the Musical (Fall 2015) (percussion)
- Boston Opera House (Boston, MA): Motown the Musical (Winter 2015) (percussion)
- North Shore Music Theatre (Beverly, MA): Shrek ('15), Anything Goes ('14), Spamalot ('16), West Side Story ('16)
- Prior to 2010, various appearances with: Merrimack Valley Players (Methuen, MA), Arlington Friends of the Drama (Arlington, MA), Weston Friendly Society (Weston, MA), Maverick Productions (Boston, MA), Footlight Club (Jamaica Plain, MA), Longwood Players (Boston, MA), and Quannapowitt Players (Reading, MA).
Various performances with:
- Spectrum Singers
- Chorus of Westerly
- Wellesley Chorus
- HalaLisa Singers
About The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel
“…4 stars…exquisite attention to details” Sunday Times London
2 of the Top 10 Albums for 2011 Huffington Post
Licensed for play in in 7,000 Starbucks worldwide
“…the perfect soundtrack for your space-age bachelor pad…” WNYC
- cordis: Seams (2016, independent)
- The Why: The Why (Bert Seager) (2015, independent)
- Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica: Where Here Meets There (2013, independent), Third River Rangoon (2011, independent), The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel (2010, independent)
- Klezwoods: Toy Monkey, The 30th Meridian: From Cairo to St. Petersburg with Love (2012, independent), Oy Yea! (2010, Accurate Records)
- David Wax Museum Everything Is Saved (2011, independent)
- Crazed Mugs Find Forbidden Island (2011, independent)
- La Tuza: Son del Otro Lado (2009, Independent)
- WAITIKI: Rendezvous in Okonkuluku (2007, independent), Charred Mammal Flesh, Exotic Music for BBQ (2005, independent), Paradise Lost and Found: Songs of Hawaii Old and New (2007, Flea Market Music)
Notable Film, TV & Radio
- Dream Farm Radio - full episode and performance by Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica (quintet) (2015)
- WNYC New Sounds - feature spot about Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica and other "global Jazz" artists (2013)
- Music supervisor for the PBS film, Plastic Paradise: A Swingin' Trip Through America's Polynesian Obsession (2012)
- 2011 and earlier: WUMB; Channel 11 (Mexico City), KHON, WYEP, WBCN, WAAF
- 2012 International Artist of the Year nominee (Boston Music Awards)
- 2012 Best World Music Act for Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica (Boston Phoenix annual readers' poll)
- 2011 Boston Music Award's Song of the Year, David Wax Museum's "Born With a Broken Heart" (recorded percussion)
Teaching & Masterclasses
- Percussion masterclasses at University of Nevada Las Vegas (2014), University of Massachusetts Lowell (2012, 2014), Frederick Maryland PAS Day of Percussion (2013), WUMB Radio (2011)
- New England Conservatory (substitute teaching): World Rhythms class (2010)
- Somerville High School Drumline (2007, 2008)
Electronics/Digital Music Production
Earlier Performances (Arizona, 1995-1999)
- Sun Cities Symphony of the West Valley (Sun City, AZ): winner of the 1999 Jennings Butterfield Young Artist Competition with Ney Rosauro’s Concerto for Vibraphone and Orchestra, Spring 1999
- Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra (Flagstaff, AZ): principal percussion, 1997-1999; section percussion, 1995-1997
- Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra (Flagstaff, AZ): student representative for the Orchestra Committee, 1998-1999
- Flagstaff Festival of the Arts Orchestra (Flagstaff, AZ): section percussion, Summer 1997
- Man of La Mancha Pit Orchestra (Northern Arizona University Performing Arts Presentations, professional production in Flagstaff, AZ) percussion, May-Jun 1997
- Arizona Opera Company (Flagstaff, AZ): section percussion for Wagner’s "Ring Cycle" Orchestra, May-Jun 1996, May-Jun 1998
- Northern Arizona University Centennial Celebration Orchestra (Flagstaff, AZ): section percussion, Jun 1998
- Sun City Symphony Orchestra (Sun City, AZ): substitute percussionist, Feb 1997-1999
- Master Chorale of Flagstaff (Flagstaff, AZ): section percussion, Dec 1995, Dec 1996, Dec 1997
- Mesa Symphony Orchestra (Mesa, AZ): substitute percussionist, 1995 -July 1996
Education and Professional Affiliations
- Member, American Federation of Musicians (Member of local 9-535)
- Member, Percussive Arts Society (PAS)
- Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s of Music in Percussion Performance.
- 11 years of formal piano studies (age 6-17)
- Intermediate fluency: Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese