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Tom O’Halloran leads the Jazz Piano department at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at Edith Cowan University, and also lectures in jazz composition as well as improvisation, ensemble studies and piano workshop. He is a regularly commissioned composer, and currently holds a Master of Music in classical composition from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and a Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance) from WAAPA. He is also currently enrolled in a PhD program through Monash University, Melbourne.
His Masters thesis is entitled 'Sustained Aspects and Precursors: Toward a Stylistic Synthesis', and it discusses several of his compositions in terms of architecture, harmonic and rhythmic properties, and the underlying trend in his music toward integration of jazz and art music concepts and techniques. Included pieces are 'Beyond the 26th Parallel', written for large chamber ensemble, and 'Benevolent Apocalypse', for orchestra.
Tom O’Halloran leads his own original jazz piano trio outfit and conducts orchestras from time to time, composes experimental music, and plays analogue synthesizers. In 2017 he won the APRA Art Music Award for Jazz work of the Year, and in 2014 won Best Jazz Artist award from WAM. In 2012 he received an APRA Australian Art Music award nomination, and in 2011 was a finalist in the Freedman Foundation Jazz Fellowship – where he was featured at the Sydney Opera House.
Tom has recently completed commissioned work for the IN-SITU 2017 season; a site-specific dance piece performed at St. Georges Cathedral, Perth.
2017 has also seen the band My Name Is Nobody release a debut album at the 2017 Perth International Jazz Festival. This is an unusual but particularly melodic and listenable trio - comprised of Lucky Oceans (pedal-steel guitar) and Ben Vanderwal (drums) and Tom O’Halloran on piano and synthesizers. They were also featured at the 2017 Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival in November, and live on ABC FM.
In 2016 Tom released an album entitled Now Noise – for his group Memory of Elements (MoE). He also received an Australia Council grant to compose and develop the work. The album won Jazz Work of the Year at the 2017 APRA Art Music Awards, and the jury remarked that is was: ‘A fresh and thoughtful work, epic in scale, demonstrating outstanding compositional craft, many interesting, subtle and well-executed ideas'. MoE is an evolving project, and is comprised of Jamie Oehlers (saxophone), Carl Mackey (saxophone), Simon Jeans (guitar), Pete Jeavons (bass) and Ben Vanderwal (drums). They performed at the 2011 Wangaratta Jazz Festival, completed a national tour, and have a previously released self-titled album on the Jazzhead label.
Tom has two jazz piano trio records to his name, released through the Sydney based Jazzgroove Records label. His album We Happy Few won the 2009 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Limelight Magazine award for best jazz achievement. Tom regularly tours Australia with this group comprised of Peter Jeavons (double bass) and Daniel Susnjar (drums). Together they have played large venues like the Sydney Opera House and The Promethean Theatre (Adelaide), and also the best jazz clubs in the country – including 505 and The Basement (Sydney), Bennett’s Lane and Paris Cat (Melbourne), and The Ellington Jazz Club (Perth).
He has appeared with high caliber jazz artists from the USA including bassist Robert Hurst, Walter Smith III and Peter Bernstein. Tom has appeared overseas at the 2017 IP Jazz Festival in Malaysia, the Houston International Jazz Festival, the IAJE festival in New York, Villa Celimontana in Italy, Dubai, UAE and club dates in New Zealand.
He has composed two multi-piano pieces; Dissolve, for two pianos, and Drumkit (for six pianos). These explored his hunger for musical interruption and chromatic saturation within his composing, synthesised with jazz interaction and improvisation.
His Future research interests are: hybridity within jazz works, multi-disciplined approaches, technology and moving image within jazz, and integrating concepts from modernism within jazz improvisation and composition.