Carolyn O'Brien headshot

Carolyn O'Brien


Much of composer Carolyn O’Brien’s work is inspired by kinetic sculpture, absurdist theater, visual art, vaudeville, silent film, dance, jazz, and folk music. She uses her academic training to create formal structures that allow for tactile childlike exploration with musical material, often sounding as if the music is ricocheting off predetermined walls, ceilings, and floors. Accessibility to all levels of listener—ranging from children to the most musically-educated adult—has always been a priority in her work, which is heavily influenced by her previous career as a public-school music educator.

Carolyn’s current work is focused on creating evening-length, non-stop shows, connecting new music with dance, set design, sound sculptures, and unconventional instrumentation, such as music boxes and antique musical toys, theatrical elements seldom seen in the “art music” tradition, and the inclusion of audience members in quasi-improvisatory pieces and post-concert exploration. 

Featured Artworks

  • Carolyn O'Brien artwork
  • Carolyn O'Brien artwork