Joey O’Neill


Tell us a little bit about yourself, your music-making, and your life.

I’ve been playing horn since the age of 8, and joined Nevis when it started near the end of my degree at the RCS. I now play horn (and sometimes trumpet), write arrangements, and work as Admin Assistant, so it’s safe to say it’s consumed my life just a bit! I spent the year after my degree freelancing as a performer, arranger and concert manager, and I’m now studying a Masters degree in ethnomusicology at SOAS in London, and eagerly awaiting the day Nevis can get back together and perform in person. 

What are your five favourite things?

Top of the list has to be my two wonderful cats, Oreo and Stepney, and then I really love baking bread, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, a good hearty cheesecake, and, being a massive nerd, my weekly Dungeons & Dragons games.

How did you first get into music?

When I was 8, a local brass quintet visited my primary school to encourage kids to learn an instrument, and I instantly became enamoured with ‘the curly one’, starting lessons on the horn a couple of weeks later.

What made you decide that music would be an important part of your life?

As I went through high school, I picked up other musical skills – playing percussion, arranging, composing and conducting – and I realised that if I was dedicating so much of my time already to music, I clearly enjoyed it enough to take it further and work towards a career in music.

What has been your Nevis Ensemble highlight so far?

There are so many to pick from! I think it has to be a concert on the very first tour when, at the end of a long, exhausting day, and fuelled by ice cream and terrible party tunes, we gave one of the most exciting, energetic performances we’ve ever done at the Glasgow Night Shelter. I will also never forget being able to visit St Kilda, let alone be part of the first ever orchestral performance there!

What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

My go-to is always Youngblood Brass Band and other riot jazz groups, or the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello, but the course I’m doing now is opening my ears to whole worlds of music I’ve never experienced before and it’s the most I’ve enjoyed just listening to music in a long time.

How would you describe Nevis Ensemble to someone else?

The orchestra slogan says it best: Music for everyone, everywhere. And each year and each tour we prove that to be more true.