First, tell us shortly:

Who you are …

Dermot O’Callaghan, CEO of Sing Ireland and a Vice-President of ECA-EC

When did you first come in contact with choral music?

I was a boy chorister of the Palestrina Choir at Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral and started there at the age of 7. It inspired me musically and certainly has contributed to what I have made my career.

What does singing mean for you?

Singing and music is an essential part of my life. I have spent all of my life immersed in music, as a musician and also as a cultural manager. I have seen the life-enhancing impact that collective singing can have on people’s lives and I am passionate about bringing this impact to people who may not have experienced it, and further developing it for those that are already aware of its many benefits.

What is the greatest experience you’ve had inside the choral world?

I always remember the first time I sang the fugue, in a rehearsal, of the opening Kyrie of Mozart’s Requiem. It filled me with so much joy and excitement and it still has the ability to lift me out of my day to day. Life changing!

What is the greatest experience you’ve had outside the choral world?

Meeting my wife and the births of our amazing children, Seán and Ellen.

How did you discover that you were (also) a European citizen?

In Ireland, we have always had a strong connection to Ireland and the EU and so, I guess I always felt a part of the European community.

What is for you the best part of a concert?

There are moments in a concert when there is such a unity of purpose and an intensity that you just don’t get often in the rehearsal room. It is a special experience and brings people together, as performers and audience.

Can you remember a mistake in a choral concert that made you laugh?

I remember when my voice was breaking (changing) as a young boy. I was singing Benjamin Britten’s ‘Benedictus’ alto solo from his Missa Brevis and my voice cracked on an extremely exposed section. In truth, my voice had been changing for some time at that point but I had been in denial! Thankfully, it was all handled very well and is a positive memory and a funny one.

Can you remember participating in an activity of ECA-EC that especially marked you? Or is there a moment during such an activity you specifically remember?

There are so many positive memories. I have to say that being in the ice caves (Postojna Cave), in Slovenia last year at the ECA-EC General Assembly, and hearing the wonderful St. Nicolas Choir, conducted by Helena Fojkar Zupančič was an incredible experience.

What is your favourite sound to hear?

I love to hear singing, music and laughter. Not necessarily in that order.

Which famous musician, alive or dead, would you like to meet/make music with?

There are so many! Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Reich, Jacob Collier, Palestrina, Bob Dylan, Veljo Tormis, Radiohead, The Smashing Pumpkins, Ravel, Bernstein, Copland. I could go on and on, and on and on…! I have specifically not mentioned any Irish inputs as I am lucky enough to work with and know many Irish musicians.

What do you sing under the shower?

I have a very wide taste in music so I tend to be singing whatever I have most recently been listening to. I use my own lyrics though.

This was great, thank you!


The association is only as strong as the people involved. They bring the ideas, the input, the feedback, the encouraging words and so much more. #weareECAEC is an initiative that acknowledges the contribution of people across our association. Every week, you will be able to discover somebody new, be it board, youth committee, staff or a member of ECA-EC.