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Nicholas O'Neill (Jeff Pountain)
drawing Jeff Pountain


Currently works as a freelance pianist, organist, singer and conductor with composing as the main focus of his efforts.

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Biographical Notes

Nicholas O'Neill was born in Cheltenham in 1970. At the age of seven it was noticed that there was possibly some latent musical talent hiding in him, so an application was made to join Gloucester Cathedral Choir. He was accepted, started piano lessons and almost immediately began committing notes to paper, receiving his first performance at the tender age of twelve, in the Cathedral.

He gained his F.R.C.O. before leaving school and then went to Magdalen College, Oxford as an Organ Scholar, graduating in 1992 with a degree in Music. In that year he was unanimously awarded the Norwich Festival Composition Prize and proved to himself that this was no fluke making the workshop of the Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize in 1993 and by winning the Gregynog Young Composers' Award in the same year, then sharing the Barbara Johnstone Prize in 1994.

Late in 1995 he moved to London, having lived in Cheltenham for the previous three years.


His playing work has included appearances on national and local radio, BBC 1, ITV and Channel 4 television, several recitals across Europe as well as various CD recordings, while his pieces have been performed across the country.

His musical endeavours have never been confined to the classical area however. Quite apart from a three year stint as a cocktail pianist at the Queen's Hotel, Cheltenham, he has squandered many evenings playing drums or bass guitar in various bands, the most notorious of which were Chainsaw and Bristol-based barbershop/metal combo the Electric Druids, for whom he was active as a songwriter.

When not writing or playing he immerses himself in following Formula One motor racing, where being half Italian, he naturally supports Ferrari through thick and (usually) thin! He also enjoys poetry, socialising, good food and wine, and when not listening to Takemitsu, Leighton, Finzi or Lutoslawski, he tends to relax to the music of his favourite bands - Del Amitri and King's X.



Selected Works



  • Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis on E - SATB and Organ
    Winner, Norwich Festival Composition Competition, 1992
    f.p. July 1992 Norwich Cathedral Choir, cond. Michael Nicholas
  • Quartet In Three Movements - Saxophone Quartet
    Young Composers' Prize, Gregynog Festival, 1993
  • La Pioggia Nel Pineto - Solo Voice
    Workshop, Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize, 1993
  • Lacrimae - Soprano, Flute and Harp
    Shortlist, Purcell Composition Prize, 1994
  • Ave Verum - SSAATTBB
    Prizewinner, Barbara Johnstone Prize, 1994
    f.p. March 1995. CD release scheduled performed by Schola Cantorum of Oxford, cond. Jeremy Summerly.
  • Intimations of Immortality - Oboe d'amore and String Orchestra
    Highly commended, OSO Composition Prize, 1995
  • Naturesway - Recorder Duet
    f.p. July 1997 Kathryn Bennetts and Peter Bowman
  • (Pre)Monition - Piano Duet
    f.p. November 1997 Alexander Mason and Nicholas O'Neill
  • Three Carols - SATB
    f.p. December 1997 Notorious cond. Nicholas O'Neill
  • O Sweete And Bitter Monuments of Paine - SATB and Organ
    f.p. February 1998 Cantus Firmus, cond. Tim Horton
  • Spem In Alium - 40 Countertenors
  • Till All the Worlds Are Gone - Solo Cello
  • St. Mary Abbots Jubilate - SSATB and Organ
    f.p. May 1998, St. Mary Abbots Choir, cond. Mark Uglow
  • Till All The Worlds Are Gone - Solo Cello
    f.p. November 1998, Maud Hodson
  • Sweet Infancy - SSAATTBB
    f.p. December 1998, St. Margaret Pattens Choir, cond. Nick Biddle
  • The Clocks Of Cassiodorus - Choir and Full Orchestra
    f.p. May 1999, Kingston Choral Society and Thames Sinfonia, cond. Robin Page
    Work in Progress:
    Shadowdance - Solo Guitar;
    The Execution Of Maximilian - Four Double Basses;
    Resonance - Solo Soprano and Piano
    also includes a string trio for chamber group Veloce, provisionally entitled 'Apart At The Seams', a sonatina for flute and piano, and five short pieces for clarinet and piano.



The Organs of Oxford - OXRECS - OXCD41
Music for a May Morning - CANTORIS - CRCD2366


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