About Kevin O’Carroll

Dr Kevin O’Carroll comes from a musical family in Waterford. His father, Fintan O’Carroll was a music teacher, violinist and internationally recognised church music composer. His mother, Josephine is a fine contralto and was a member of many local choirs.

Kevin started his formal music education by attaining a scholarship to the Schola Cantorum at St. Finian’s College, Mullingar. At St. Finian’s and under the guidance of Fr.Frank McNamara, he was trained as an organist and church musician. At that time, he also studied French Horn at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with Victor Malirsh –  by way of scholarship from the Irish Youth Orchestra.

In his late teens he was regularly employed as a deputy French Horn player with the RTE Concert Orchestra and the RTE Symphony Orchestra (now the National Symphony of Orchestra of Ireland).

Due to family circumstances, Kevin returned to Waterford in 1980 and managed to get a “real” job – working for a bank, where he remained for almost thirty years. During that time, however, he was busy with his musical life freelancing as a French Horn player, in addition to working as conductor and musical director with choirs and musical societies.

At the time of his death in 1981, Kevin’s father held the post of Organist and Choirmaster in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Waterford.  Kevin succeeded him in this post and remained there until 1996.

In 1982, Kevin conducted his first musical – Finian’s Rainbow with the Carnew Musical Society.  Invitations followed from many different societies including Enniscorthy Musical Society, New Ross Musical Society, Edmund Rice Choral and Musical Society, De La Salle Musical Society, De La Salle School Musical Society and also from musical societies in Scotland and Wales. He has received a number awards from the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) for his work with musical societies.  Kevin also gained a bit of a reputation for being the person to turn to in an emergency. He has stepped in (literally) at the last minute to conduct several shows including Cabaret, Honk, Oklahoma and The Arcadians. These last three were all in international competitions, for which  he was nominated each time as best musical director!

In 1995 he began conducting the chamber choir Madrigallery, a post he held until 2021. With this choir, he has won awards at most of the choir festivals in Ireland – Cork Choral Festival, Sligo Choral Festival, Navan Choral Festival, Arklow Music Festival, New Ross Choral Festival. The repertoire covered by this choir extends from Madrigals to Brahms and from Rutter to world premier performances by Eric Sweeney, Marion Ingoldsby, Greg Scanlon and Colin Mawby. An occasional composer himself, Kevin’s compositions have been broadcast on national radio in Ireland and in the USA. Over the years, Kevin has conducted groups from many countries including Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Australia, Taiwan and the USA.

In 2000, Kevin began studying in order to underpin the experiential knowledge gained since conducting his first group at age 17.   He studied conducting with the internationally renowned conducting pedagogue and clinician, Dr. John Dickson at Texas Tech University, USA.   He has also worked with David Hill (King’s College, Cambridge), Tim Brown (Clare College, Cambridge) as well as the well-known British composer and conductor Bob Chilcott.  Having secured a Master of Music degree in 2008, Kevin was awarded a PhD Arts Practice from the University of Limerick ten years later.  His research concerns the impact of modern music notation on the performance practice of Renaissance polyphony.  From this research he developed the Phrased Notation System (PNS), a notation system which seeks to support historic performance practice while minimising the impact of modern notation conventions.

Recognised  as a choral specialist, Kevin no longer works in the financial industry but is in demand as a teacher and choral consultant for workshops and guest lectures. He has also been adjudicator for most choral competitions throughout Ireland including  AIMS Choral Festival,  Navan Choral Festival, Arklow Music Festival, Cork Choral Festival and Feis Ceoil Dublin. He has provided lectures for the Post-Graduate Diploma in Choral Conducting at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra (DCU) and also lectures on conducting for the Diploma in Church Music at NUI Maynooth, in addition to tutoring choral conducting and vocal ensembles for the University of Limerick.  He is also a member of the panel of Examiners at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

He has been Guest Director (2009) and Tutor for Special Choir (1995) at the Irish Church Music Association Summer School and in addition has lectured at the Irish Association of Choirs Summer School (2009, 2014). He has delivered a variety of workshops for the Association of Irish Musical Societies on a number of occasions.  He has been a guest clinician at the Cork Choral Festival since 2011.

In 2009 Kevin established a Waterford based series of orchestral concerts for primary schools with the newly formed Waterford Concert Orchestra. These concerts were a tremendous success with over 3,000 people attending the concerts over a four day period in June 2010.  This series ran until 2014.

2012 saw further developments with conducting consultant work on a film being produced for BBC – Loving Miss Hatto.

2013 was another milestone in Kevin’s varied career when his first book on choral conducting  Choral Conducting – A handbook for Irish Choir Trainers and Conductors was published.  This was also the year he took up the position of Music Director at Wexford Festival Singers.

Kevin holds a Dip. ABRSM in Choral Conducting , B.A. (Hons.) in Music and Business Management and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting performance and a PhD Arts Practice.