Featured Performers

The Crash Ensemble

This year’s featured performers are instrumentalists from Ireland’s premiere contemporary music ensemble, the Crash Ensemble. We are happy to include Kate Ellis, cello; Larissa O’Grady, violin; Susan Doyle, flute; Barry O’Halpin, guitar; and Alex Petcu, percussion.

Kate Ellis, Cello

Cellist Kate Ellis is dedicated to the performance and exploration of all things with the shiny label of new music. Kate is the Artistic Director of Crash Ensemble, cellist with Martin Hayes’ newly formed Common Ground Ensemble and is often seen playing with the musicians of Yurodny, TRE trio and Fovea Hex. 

Her great range of musical collaborators include Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon Giddens, Martin Hayes, Savina Yannatou, Barry Guy, the Irish Gamelan Orchestra, Gavin Bryars, Gavin Friday and Karan Casey. She has commissioned new music from a diverse range of Irish composers, including Donnacha Dennehy, Barry Guy, Niall Vallely, Adrian Hart and Linda Buckley, and has premiered numerous new works by composers including Nico Muhly, Gerald Barry, David Lang and Terry Riley. 

Kate has toured and broadcast in Australia, the USA, Europe and China, performing at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Centre, Shanghai EXPO, Istanbul Akbank Jazz Festival and Edinburgh International Festival.

Kate is currently writing music with UK based musician Laura Cannell as part of a year long project releasing music monthly alongside bespoke film as a creative documentation of  2021. This project is supported by the Arts Council of England. 

Kate is the recent recipient of residencies at the Martello Tower, Jaywick, UK and at the Cultural Centre Irlandais, France 2020/21.


Larissa O’Grady, Violin

Larissa O’Grady is an Irish violinist dedicated to performing contemporary music and exploring adventurous interpretations of the standard repertoire. 

As a member of Ireland’s leading contemporary music group, Crash Ensemble, Larissa has premiered the works of composers such as Donnacha Dennehy, Ann Cleare, Nico Muhly and David Lang. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician across three continents and frequently performs with Ireland’s orchestras. 

Larissa’s repertoire encompasses a wide range, from baroque to important 20th century works and new compositions by some of today’s most innovative and exciting composers. Her interests include extended violin techniques, collaboration and innovation in music. Larissa has collaborated with musicians, dancers, poets and designers and recently completed a Postgraduate certificate course in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCD. 


Susan Doyle, Flute

Susan Doyle studied flute at the College of Music, Dublin and the Istituto Luigi Boccherini, Lucca, Italy, under Marzio Conti, where she graduated with first class honours in performance.

As well as teaching at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, she performs solo and chamber concerts both in Ireland and in music festivals throughout Europe and the US. She also plays regularly with the National Symphony Orchestra, the RTE Concert Orchestra and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. She is also a member of Vox21 and performs annually in the Bank of Ireland Mostly Modern.

Within music education she is involved in the National Concert Hall Outreach Programme.

Barry O’Halpin, Guitar

Barry O’Halpin is a Dublin-based composer and guitarist. 

First working with Crash when his piece Lethargarian was programmed on their 2014 Free State concert, Barry was a featured composer in their 2015-16 Born in the 80s Irish tour. After festival appearances nationwide, his trio Lipids was performed at New Music Dublin 2016 with Barry as guitarist. Since then he has become a regular Crash guitarist, with highlights including premieres of works by Tansy Davies and Ann Cleare, festivals such as Gaida (Lithuania), Sounds from a Safe Harbour (Cork) & Kilkenny Arts, and recordings of works by Donnacha Dennehy & Christopher Mayo.

His own music has featured in festivals & concert series including Tokyo Wonder Site (Japan), New Music DublinBang On A Can Summer Music Festival (US/Germany) and Borough New Music (UK) with performers including Kirkos Ensemble, Michelle O’Rourke, Rarescale, Ret Frem, Bastard Assignments, Fishamble Sinfonia and BINARY flute duo. 

In 2018 he composed Vargvarde for Chamber Choir Ireland as part of Contemporary Music Centre’s Choral Sketches project, fusing together wolf and frog chorus transcriptions for human voices. In 2017 he was commissioned by Kirkos Ensemble & Experimental Film Society to write Sleep Flare, a live score to a silent film by director Rouzbeh Rashidi. 

He writes and performs with Alarmist, a Dublin-based group blending experimental rock, jazz and electronic influences. Since 2011 they have released 3 records and performed at international festivals such as Ottawa Jazz (Canada), Arctangent (UK), 12 Points (Sweden) and Match & Fuse (France/UK), with media coverage from BBC Radio, WNYC, Swedish National Radio, All About Jazz & The Guardian. 

He was an Arts & Humanities artist-in-residence for 2018-19 at UCD Parity Studios, and has studied music at Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Queen’s University Belfast. He was Guitar Fellow for the 2017 Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival in the US, and the group’s 2016 academy at Villa Musica in Germany , performing in works by resident composers Michael Gordon & Louis Andriessen.

His upcoming composer residency with Crash Ensemble consists of a multi-section composition for ensemble, drawing abstract and direct inspiration from evolutionary processes and soundscape ecology, and exposing contrasts and uncanny commonalities between ‘wild’ sounds in nature and human-made music and machinery. His exploratory approach to the guitar provides a connective tissue for this sprawling work which unites Crash’s affinity for vivid sonic colours with their powerful rhythmic drive. 


Alex Petcu, Percussion

An Irish musician of Romanian origin, Alex is quickly establishing himself both nationally and internationally as a percussionist of the finest calibre. His recent appearances as a soloist with both RTE orchestras and as the National Concert Hall Rising Star recitalist are some of his main highlights so far. His debut album, “Alex Petcu: In Time” has just been released on the RTE lyric fm label.

Alex enjoys being involved in the creation of new music and so, regularly works with composers. Examples of recent projects include “Beats, Bells and Bridges” and the Abbey Theatre’sproduction of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, both collaborations with composer Tom Lane“A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing”, a children’s show commissioned by The Ark with music composed by Brian Irvine and “Invitation to a Journey”, a dance/theatre/music collaboration with music by Deirdre Gribbin.

Alex also specialises in solo and chamber music. He regularly performs with the Crash and Hard Rain ensembles, two of Ireland’s main contemporary groups, and is a founding member of the Bangers and Crash Percussion Group, a new exciting percussion ensemble. He has given concerts at the West Cork Chamber Music FestivalKilruddery HouseKillaloe Chamber Music Festival to name a few and has taken part in and had successes in major national and international competitions such as the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the YearTromp and A.R.D. International competitions.

Alex also enjoys performing in an orchestral setting and is a regular extra player for the various professional ensembles in Ireland such as the RTE SymphonyRTE ConcertIrish ChamberIrish Baroque and Ulster orchestras.

Aside from his performing activities, he is also a keen teacher and has given lecture recitals at Ireland’s universities, taught at the CIT Cork School of Music, given a series of workshops for West Cork Music’s “Tuning Up” outreach scheme and more. He also holds an MA in music performance from the CIT Cork School of Music, an MSc and BSc in Physics from University College Cork.