Brian O’Neill: eclectic percussionist, drummer, composer (Boston, MA)

Brian O’Neill: percussionist, drummer, vibraphonist, composer

"…Percussion master and musical polymath…"—Boston Phoenix

"…Brian's not just a great musician; he's also a first-rate composer."—Huffington Post

Brian with tambourines. by Robin Holland

Brian on vibes. by Yves Renaud


Boston Phoenix logo Winner: 2012 Music Poll - Best World Music Act (Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica)

Huffington Post"ridiculously talented"

Downbeat"…incredible musicianship…"

"…positively mesmerizing, and more than occasionally tranquilizing."—The Brooklyn Rail

"…may be, in the long run, a better exoticist than [John] Zorn…"—AllAboutJazz

"I just wanted to thank you again for the amazing seminar at UML. I know that you made a huge impact on the students and I did not even have to ask them, I could just feel it. (Of course many of them came up and told me how great it was!) It was not only your musicianship and interesting musical concepts, it was the way you presented everything with an obvious passion and contagious energy."—Jeff Fischer, percussion instructor University of Massachusetts Lowell

Latest newsletter

Music News from Brian O'Neill: Tours, Esquivel's 100th B-day, and…Jan 17, 2018

Brian on vibes. by Robin Holland

Orange press photos by Robin Holland.

Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica Concerts (3)

Sat, 2/24/18 @ 8:00 PM Our first time in Bonita Springs, FL! Excited……more Bonita Springs, FL
Sun, 2/25/18 @ 3:00 PM Our first show in FL kicks off with Artist……more Venice, FL
Fri, 3/2/18 @ 8:30 PM We're looking forward to being part of the……more Cutler Bay, FL

All Other Concerts (1)

My various bands and ensembles...

Sat, 9/22/18 @ 6:30 PM Music Mountain chamber music series has a……more Falls Village, CT

Complete show calendar

About Brian

Brian O’Neill is a versatile multi-percussionist, drummer and composer based in Boston, MA. A “percussion master and musical polymath” (Boston Phoenix), Brian performs regularly in a wide variety of musical contexts including western classical orchestras, musical theatre, jazz groups, and world music ensembles. He is also the Artistic Director of Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, the internationally acclaimed dual-ensemble that includes two incomparable ensembles: the world’s only Esquivel Megaband performing Brian’s transcriptions of Juan Garcia Esquivel’s lost space-age pop music (“deliciously entertaining”—Wall Street Journal), and a global jazz and exotic chamber music quintet that interprets Brian’s original compositions and radical adaptations of classical works (“engagingly unique”—Boston Globe). The Orchestrotica has released three albums in its Exotica for Modern Living series, all of which have received critical international acclaim including a “four star” review from the Sunday London Times, and two “Top 10 Albums of the Year” awards from the Huffington Post. AllAboutJazz once said, “O’Neill may be, in the long run, a better exoticist than [John] Zorn,” and his music with the Orchestrotica has been featured in film and on stages in Canada, Mexico, Germany, and across the United States.

As an orchestral and chamber musician, Brian has worked with Portland Symphony, Albany Symphony, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Arizona Opera, cordis, and as a soloist with Sun City Symphony in AZ. Brian is also a show drummer and percussionist, and has performed with Kristin Chenoweth, Donna Summer, the national tour of Motown the Musial, and as a regular drummer at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. Additionally, Brian has a love for world music and is a regular performer with Ishna (Celtic/Irish, bodhran, drumset), Klezwoods (klezmer/Balkan, riq, doumbek, cajon, drum set), and Jeni Jol (Balkan/Turkish, frame drums). His musical adventures have brought him to national and international stages including The Montreal Jazz Festival (main stage), The Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall among others.

Brian graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in Percussion Performance from Northern Arizona University, studying with Dr. Steven Hemphill. He also speaks Spanish and Portuguese and studied Brazilian music and percussion in Salvador da Bahia. Keep up with Brian and learn about his fascination with global tambourine playing techniques at or on Twitter/Instagram (@orchestrotica).

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