Tom was trained primarily as a composer of instrumental and choral music but his practice extends to include sound design and electronic music. He has worked on a broad variety of productions including operas, contemporary dance pieces, theatre productions, ballets and concert performances. Every project he works on requires a different approach and a different type of music and sound. A recent example of a piece which incorporated many aspects of his practice was Harp, a river cantata. This was a large-scale event which took place on the Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin in 2014 directed by Conor Hanratty. The concept behind the piece was to turn a large harp-shaped bridge into a musical instrument. In order to realise this idea Tom recorded sound from the cables of the bridge using contact microphones. He then used these sounds to create distinct notes and then used these to create an electronic score. These notes then allowed him to compose a live score for brass, drums and voices. In total, over 100 performers came together to perform the piece. The piece used score composition, field recording and sound design to create a piece of music theatre on an epic scale. In his work for more conventional stage productions he tries to adopt an integrated approach to sound design by deriving material from within the production itself. He extracts resonant harmonics from pieces of existing music associated with the piece to create atmospheric sound and music.
- Nominated Best Sound Design, Irish Times Theatre Awards 2014 for "Between Trees and Water" (Painted Bird Productions)
- Nominated Best Opera Production, Irish Times Theatre Awards 2012 for "Flatpack" (Ulysses Opera)
- Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2012 for "Dogs" (Emma Martin Dance)
- Best Overall Design, Dublin Fringe Festival 2012 for "Dogs" (Emma Martin Dance)
- Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2011 for "Bird with boy" (junk ensemble)
- Nominated Best Overall Design, Dublin Fringe Festival 2011 for "Bird with boy" (junk ensemble)
This was the first time collaborating with director Wayne Jordan and also my first time working at the Abbey Theatre. The score for the piece centred around settings of the song lyrics in Shakespeare’s text for which I combined aspects of contemporary pop music with baroque harmony and contemporary classical music. Live music was played by percussionist Alex Petcu and the songs were primarily sung by Ger Kelly who played the role of Feste. As well as the songs, the score featured an eclectic mix of music including a barbershop close harmony version of “Firestarter” which I arranged for the production. I created all of the electronic dance music for the piece using field recordings. For example, the drum beats were made of the sounds of diggers from street work and from other collected recordings.
The music for this piece was the result of a close collaboration with drummer Bryan O’Connell and soprano Elizabeth Woods. We had the privilege of being present in all of the dance rehearsals in the weeks before the opening night. The score was based on baroque and classical music in combination with driving drum rhythms and experimental sounds. I played harpsichord and viola and all of the music was live. The piece included pieces by Bach, Handel and Mozart and many semi-improvised sections.
The score for this piece was the result of a close collaboration with drummer Bryan O’Connell. Harmonic and rhythmic material for the piece was derived from doo-wop songs which featured in the production sung by the cast. I played viola, accordion and melodica and Bryan played a range of percussion instruments. The music was influenced by the unique acoustic properties of the basement of Kilmainham Gaol. Bryan and I were able to perform in separate parts of the building and yet still hear each other playing. When the piece was remounted in a Georgian building a year after the first performance we used radio transmitters to simulate this acoustic.