ListN Up: Emma O’Halloran (May 27, 2022)

ListN Up is a weekly series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Emma O’Halloran is an Irish composer and vocalist. Described by the Washington Post as “intensely beautiful”, O’Halloran’s music aims to capture the human experience, exploring complex emotions felt in specific moments in time. Freely intertwining acoustic and electronic music, she has written for folk musicians, chamber ensembles, turntables, symphony orchestra, film, and theatre.

Hi everyone, I’m Emma O’Halloran, and I’m so excited to share this playlist with you. The artists that I’ve picked create beautiful, immersive sound worlds using electronics or electric instruments, and I find their work incredibly inspiring. I hope you enjoy listening!

Stray Sods by Amanda Feery, performed by Amanda Gookin

I love Amanda’s work; there’s so much heart in her music. Stray Sods is a hybrid lullaby-mourning song that explores the subject of baby loss and abortion. Amanda uses processed samples of toys, heartbeats, and hospital equipment to create a haunting sound world that holds space for the thousands of Irish women that have had to travel to the UK for decades to access adequate medical care for abortion.

wind_down_2 by Yaz Lancaster

Yaz Lancaster’s wind_down_2 is an absolute mood. The interplay of violin with the vaporwave-influenced atmosphere is totally mesmerising. I could listen to this track for hours.

Chasing Numbers by Actress x London Contemporary Orchestra

Chasing Numbers is from the album LAGEOS by Actress (aka Darren Cunningham) and the London Contemporary Orchestra. Every track on this album is incredible, and it has had a massive impact on the way I think about texture and colour in my music.

blossom & furl by Susanna Hancock

I love Susanna’s sense of pacing; she creates beautiful sonic landscapes that slowly unfold and reveal themselves. blossom & furl was written for two electric guitars and draws inspiration from time lapses of flowers with long, slow, and organic blossoming of the musical material.

Bird Fish by Anna Meadors, performed by Evan Chapman

Inspired by M.C. Escher’s Bird, fish (No. 22) which features interlocking patterns of birds and fish, Anna layers drums over a filtered saxophone track, and the two musical elements fuse together to become one. This piece is amazing — the drums become so melodic, I can’t enough of it.

gone by Angélica Negrón, performed by Sō Percussion

Angélica is one of my composer heroes. I love the way she explores sound, and her music is just magical. Her piece gone uses custom-made Bricolo robotic instruments (designed and built by Nick Yulman) and it explores the visceral feeling of emptiness and absence while at the same time searching for connections and meaning on those things and people that are left.

Birdy Island by Howie Lee

Beijing producer Howie Lee uses wild electronic experimentation to create a soundtrack to an imaginary theme park where people get to reconnect with nature. I love this entire album; the sounds are somehow organic and synthetic at the same time. I especially love the vocal section in the title track, Birdy Island.

Fluid by Darian Thomas

Darian’s music is so full of joy and play and the expansiveness of what it is to be alive. Fluid is a meditation on the idea of a body of water interacting with vastly different civilizations over millennia.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

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