James O’Callaghan (b. 1988) is a composer and sound artist based in Montréal praised for his “mastery of materials and musical form” (Electromania, Radio France) and “highly refined sense of colour.” (Vancouver Sun) His music intersects acoustic and electroacoustic media, employing field recordings, amplified found objects, computer-assisted transcription of environmental sounds, and unique performance conditions.
His work, spanning chamber, orchestral, live electronic and acousmatic idioms, audio installations, and site-specific performances, has been various commissioned by the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (INA-GRM), the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Ensemble Paramirabo, Quasar quatuor de saxophones, and Standing Wave, among others.
His works have been performed internationally and featured in various festivals (SICMF, Seoul; IFCP, New York; KLANG!, Montepllier; MANTIS, Manchester; SF Tape Music Festival, San Francisco; AKOUSMA, Montréal; Sound Travels, Toronto; Cluster, Winnipeg; MANCA, Nice; NYCEMF, New York City; Sonic Boom, Vancouver).
He is the recipient of the 2015 Robert Fleming Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts and has won first prizes in the SOCAN Foundation Awards (including the John Weinzweig Grand Prize in 2014), Jeu de Temps-Times Play Awards, and Musicworks magazine's electronic music composition competition. He was nominated for a JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2015 KLANG! Acousmonium competition.
Active as an arts organiser, he co-founded and co-directs the Montréal Contemporary Music Lab, and serves on the artist committee of Codes d'accès. He also presents at conferences and publishes regularly on compositional topics including instrumental transcription of environmental sound, cross-media transcription, soundscape music, and electroacoustic diffusion through instruments (Organised Sound, eContact!, Electroacoustic Music Studies). He is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre.
Originally from Vancouver, he received a Master of Music degree in composition from McGill University in 2014, studying with Philippe Leroux, where he also taught an introductory course in Electroacoustic composition. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts honours degree from Simon Fraser University in 2011, studying with Barry Truax, David MacIntyre, Rodney Sharman and Arne Eigenfeldt. He has also studied and taken workshops with Kaija Saariaho, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Lasse Thoresen, Christopher Butterfield, Christopher Fox, Michel Gonneville, and R. Murray Schafer.