Born in Dublin in 1970, Siobhán Cleary studied music at NUI Maynooth, Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin. She attended composition courses in Italy, France and Poland where her tutors included Franco Donatoni and Louis Andriessen. She has also studied privately with Tom Johnson and Kevin Volans. She studied film scoring with Ennio Morricone and Don Brandon Ray . In 1995 she was a finalist in the Yorkshire and Humberside Arts Young Composers’ Award at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Other awards include a Pépinières Young European Artists award in 1996 for a three-month residency in Bologna and first prize in the Arklow Music Festival Composers’ Competition in 1997.
In 2010 Siobhán received a bursary from the Arts Council to complete her opera Jack Ashore which was selected for a full production at the Boston Metro Opera. Her critically acclaimed opera Vampirella based on a story by Angela Carter was premiered in Smock Alley in 2017 and ran for four nights to a sold out house. Vampirella was broadcast on Opera Night by Paul Herriott on Lyric FM in 2020 and in 2022.
Her work has been broadcast regularly by Lyric FM and BBC 3 and has featured on radio programmes across the world. Her orchestral work, Threads (1992 rev.1994), was selected by Vienna Modern Masters for performance at the Second International Festival of New Music for Orchestra in Olomouc in the Czech Republic, and was later released on CD. Other CD releases include Chaconne performed by Elisaveta Blumina on the LCMF label. Upcoming in 2023 Her piece Storm in Devon commissioned by Louth Contemporary Music Festival and premiered at LCMF by Vox Clamantis in 2022 received its UK premiere on March 2023 with the BBC singers at Maida Vale Singers and due for broadcast on BBC3 in 2023.
Siobhán is also well known as a film composer having written the music for two Roger Corman feature films, Spacejacked! and Dangerous Curves in the 1990’s. She also composed the scores for the Andrew Legge film, The Time- Traveller; Maynard Kraak’s Crazy Pickles and Planet Korda’s The Book Smugglers and If Not You. She also worked with the Ciniteca di Bologna writing music scores to restored films, most notably the Dali/Buñuel classic Un Chien Andalou. Recent films include Abhartach with filmmaker David Smith and The Dust Veil filmed by Crash ensemble’s film artist Laura Sheeran
In 1997 a concert of her music was performed at Cité International des Arts in Paris premiering her string orchestra work Cordes. Hum! a collaboration with the writer Gerard Beirne was commissioned and premiered by the Irish Chamber Orchestra directed by Fionnuala Hunt and subsequently toured nationally. It was also performed by the NSO at New Music Dublin 2020 conducted by Ryan McAdams, Other orchestral works include Alchemy (2001) and Cokaygne (2008) both commissioned by RTÉ and performed by the National Symphony Orchestra.
She has been a featured composer in the Composers’ Choice concert series and Horizon’s Orchestral series at the National Concert Hall and featured regularly at New Music Dublin Festivals and at the Louth Contemporary Music festival . In July 2013 She was recipient of the first Annual Irish Residency at the soundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy which featured a premiere of her chamber work Ondine performed by Tony Arnold.
Theophilus Thistle and the Myth of Miss Muffett , a work based on tongue twisters in different languages was commissioned by the Cork Choral festival with funds from the Arts Council of Ireland which was premiered on April 30th 2011 by the National Chamber Choir (directed by Paul Hiller) . This work was selected by Paul Hillier to be performed as part of the Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year-long celebration of Irish arts in the United States in 2011. It was described as “a tour de force of 21st century vocal chicanery, a clever and richly entertaining composition” . The piece was subsequently selected by Dawn Upshaw for the Bard vocal programme at National Sawdust in New York April 2019.
Chaconne was performed by Eliza McCarthy at Imagining Ireland at the NCH in Feb 2020 and the Barbican, London
In 2005 Siobhán founded Ireland Promoting New Music which promotes the performance of contemporary music through its series New Sound Worlds. In 2015 she founded the Evlana Sinfonietta which gave the world premiere of her piece “Her Kind” based on a poem by Ann Sexton and the Irish premiere of “Ondine”.
Siobhán was elected to Aosdána, Ireland’s state-sponsored academy of creative artists in 2008.