Brian Irvine

Co-Founder / Artistic Director

“Some of the most exhilarating and imaginative music you’ll ever hope to hear……musical play in the highest sense: exuberant, spontaneous, and irresistibly alive.” Washington Post

Born in Belfast, Brian’s unique musical world combines the known and the unknown, the free and the fixed, the schooled and the unschooled. He is driven by a single desire to connect, disrupt, reinvent, and reimagine all aspects of life, people, society, art and understanding in any and as many ways possible. His music is a highly personal concoction of punk, improvisation and contemporary classical.

Shortlisted for an Ivor Novello Award, nominated for five British Composer Awards (BASCA’s) and winner of two, Brian’s huge output includes operas, large scale oratorios, orchestral, ensemble, chamber, solo and dance works as well as film scores and installations.

Often combining and layering diverse and opposing elements he is as happy working with community choirs, gardeners, footballers, bankers, teens, and skateboarders as he is with orchestras and opera singers.

His music has been commissioned, broadcast, and performed all over the world by a vast array of performers and organisations including the London Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Red Note Ensemble, Ulster Orchestra, Joanna MacGregor, Fidelio Trio, and Irish National Opera…to name but a few.

John McIlduff

Co-Founder / Artistic Director

“NEST is innovative, moving, surprising, stirring… In fact it is epic (and I don’t use this word lightly), in both scale and inspiration.” Opera Magazine

John is a librettist, writer, stage director, producer, and filmmaker, whose work spans opera, television, film, theatre, music videos, commercials, installations and even the odd song lyric.

A graduate of L’École de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, an Edinburgh Fringe First Winner, and a Total Theatre Innovation Award nominee, John is interested in exploring how arts practice can intersect, combine, evolve, and democratise.

Most recently his work has combined traditional analogue performance with digital technologies to transform how opera is presented and experienced – taking the art form out of the opera house and onto the streets and attracting new (and younger) audiences. His work has been seen throughout Europe, Americas, and Asia on the streets, in theatres, at film festivals, in concert halls, on TV, in galleries, in communities and on the sides of shipping containers. 

Claire Hall

Digital Producer

Claire is a Creative Producer & Programmer with over 11 years experience in Producing, Operations and Event management. She has delivered large scale, public projects including Culture Night 2019, The Disappearing Wall, A Community Rooftop Festival & set up and ran the multi-purpose event space Banana Block in Portview Trade Centre.

Her producer credits include The MAC, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Outburst Queer Arts Festival, AVA festival and in September 2022 she joined David Holmes and Stephen Hackett as Co-producer of the underground club night God’s Waiting Room.  In her artistic practice, she works under the moniker of Venus Dupree and her work focuses on Disruptors with a particular interest in the subjects of Queer, Feminist and Socialist movements in performance and dance music. In 2015, she was the first person to bring the NYC Ballroom Scene to Ireland in a co-produced performance called House with the Legendary Twiggy Pucci Garcon (choreographer on the Emmy Award winning series ‘Pose’) transforming the main theatre in the MAC into an immersive catwalk experience.

She loves working in unusual spaces – whether it’s transforming a deconsecrated church into a pumping club or turning a rooftop carpark into a community festival space. She’s up for the challenge! 

Rhian Cooper

Assistant Producer / Marketing Officer

During her time at Ulster University, Rhian played a pivotal role in the University Choir, which led to a memorable performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City, premiering Paul Mealor’s new work. Her involvement with the choir also introduced her to Dumbworld through the project Anticlockwise.

Following her graduation, Rhian established herself as an Alt-Pop, Alt-Indie, Faith Singer & Songwriter, releasing her debut EP Welcome Here in Spring 2023.

In her role as Touring & Projects Officer at Moving on Music (2022), a company promoting under-represented music, Rhian gained substantial experience in the music industry. She facilitated tours, single events, and festivals, honing her skills in event management and promotion.

Rhian is deeply fascinated by the artistic creative journey and holds a strong appreciation for the contributions of artists, producers, promoters, and supporters within the arts industry.

Max Beer


After graduating in Business Studies in Aberdeen, Max Beer studied at Bristol’s Fool Time Centre for Circus Skills & Performing Arts. After some years spent as a street performer and circus tutor, Max consolidated his skills in arts and business gaining a PgDip with distinction in Arts Management from Northumbria University.

He arrived in Northern Ireland in 1997 to coordinate an EU Peace II funded cross border, cross community arts project for Strabane Lifford Development Commission working with Scottish Opera and Ulster Orchestra among others.

Joining Derry’s Playhouse in 2000, Max raised some £15m for both the capital redevelopment of The Playhouse’s buildings and for its ongoing core and programming costs. He was appointed Interim CEO of The Playhouse from 2018-2020 working with the Board to repair the organisation’s financial and operational resilience.

Max joined Dumbworld in 2021. He is also an associate fundraiser for The Fundraisers and the Treasurer of In Your Space Circus.