Ailís Ní Ríain is an Irish composer and writer who aims to produce work that challenges, provokes and engages. Her work has been performed across Europe, in Israel, Brazil, USA and Japan and broadcast on BBC and RTÉ. Her artistic interests are diverse and combined with an unwavering desire to push and develop her artistic practice through each new project or commission.  In 2016 she was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Award for Composers.

Ailís works broadly in the areas of concert music, music installation, opera, music­-theatre and has collaborated with writers, dancers, visual artists, filmmakers, techologists and theatre artists.

She has been awarded international fellowships, associate artist positions and residences at Yaddo, USA, the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland Ireland, Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, The Ragdale Foundation in Illinois, ArtOMI in New York and Bogliasco in Italy.

Ailís trained as a pianist and has dedicated considerable time to developing work for ‘altered piano’.

Forthcoming projects include a commission for Dame Evelyn Glennie and the New London Chamber Ensemble, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, RTÉ ConTempo String Quartet, Wired a full-length disabled-dance-theatre production in Chicago, London Sinfonietta, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. A portrait album of her music is scheduled to be released by NMC Recordings in 2022.

Site-specific music-installations include music installations for a lighthouse, a K6 telephone box, a dis-used former cotton mill, the Brontë’s family home, a castle keep, a railway station accumulator tower and a high-street shop unit.

Ailís has hearing impairments and has made work referencing deafness, disability and mental health since 2006 working with DadaFest, Unlimited, Arts & Disability Ireland, Shape Arts, Drake Music and Outside In.

A long-time advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion in the arts; she sits on the Ivors Academy EDI steering group, is a board member of DAO [Disability Arts Online] and a board member of the Ivors Academy.

As a writer of words for stage, Ailís work is published by Nick Hern and Bloomsbury and has been translated into French, German and Swedish and produced in Ireland, UK, New York, Germany and Sweden. Her work in French is represented by L’Arche

Ailís is grateful to the Irish Arts Council, the PRS Foundation, Unlimited, Arts Council England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the RVW Trust and the Hinrichsen Foundation for supporting her work.


The PRS for Music Foundation Open Fund
The Irish Arts Council Commissions Award
Arts Council England Developing Creative Practice Award

Unlimited R & D Commission Award
The Arts Council of Ireland Commissions Award
Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust
Hinrichsen Foundation Award

National Endowment for the Arts [USA] Yaddo Residency Fellowship
PRS for Music Foundation Women Make Music Award
The Arts Council of Ireland Music Bursary Award
Unlimited/Shape Arts/ArtsAdmin Commission

Shortlisted ISCM World New Music Days Tallin
Hinrichsen Foundation Award
Culture Ireland Grant
Arts Council England Project Grant
Finalist Annelie de Man Prix

Shortlisted ISCM World New Music Days Beijing
Travel & Training award Arts Council Ireland

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers
Spitalfields Music Festival Project Award
Travel & Training Award from The Irish Arts Council
Irish Arts Council Commissions Award

Britten Pears Foundation Bursary
Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award
PRS Foundation for Music Award

Culture Ireland Travel Award
Travel & Training Award, Irish Arts Council
Sound & Music Composer­ Curator Award
Unlimited R & D Bursary
ACE/British Council International Artist Development Award
PRS Foundation for New Music Award

Finzi Trust Travel & Research Scholarship

Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award

Abandon Normal Devices/DaDaFest Research Award

Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award

Music Bursary from The Irish Arts Council
RVW Trust Grant Award

Vienna Modern Masters Nancy Van De Vate Prize for Opera
First Prize ISCM World Music Days Short Cuts competition

First prize SPNM/Brass in Association

First prize, RTÉ Composer of the Future
Residencies & Fellowships
Galway European Capital of Culture/Aerial Sparks/Irish Marine Institute
Yaddo Artist Colony, Saratoga Springs, USA
Ragdale Foundation Residency, Illinois, USA
Jacob’s Pillow, New York with Kinetic Light Dance
MAKE Residency, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Virginia, USA
Fellowship – Omi International Arts Center, New York
Residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, France
Associate Artist Residency – ACA – The Atlantic Center for the Arts – Florida
Residency at METALCulture, Southend on Sea, UK
Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, Italy
Aldeburgh Artist Residency, Aldeburgh Productions, UK
Interact Roskilde, Denmark
THREAD Residency, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland
At ArtsOmi, New York State
Mostar, Bosnia, 2017