John O'Neill was born in “Upstate” New York in 1932. He is a graduate of Ithaca College and the Eastman School of Music where he studied theory, orchestration and composition with Warren Benson, Bernard Rogers, Kent Kennan, and Wayne Barlow. Composing extensively for student music ensembles, he has had publications in the catalogs of Bewlin, Warner Brothers, Bourne, Kendor, CCP/Belwin and Alfred Publications. With his wife, Nelle, an award-winning violin maker, he lives in Douglas County, Nevada at the foot of the Sierra Nevada overlooking the beautiful Carson Valley.
Having taught music at the elementary, secondary, community college and university level for thirty-five years, O’Neill has conducted community and semi-professional orchestras in New York State and the San Francisco Bay Area from 1961 until 1982. More recently, he has been guest conductor of the Reno Philharmonic in performances of his compositions and, in 1999, was commissioned to compose the “official” Nevada Day March. At the march’s premiere, Nevada Senator Richard Bryan presented him with a Senatorial Citation for his work with young musicians.
O’Neill is currently Co-Founding Director (1992), with his wife, Nelle, of the Carson Valley Violin School, the only comprehensive string program in rural Nevada and Carson Valley Violins, the only full service violin shop between Reno and Las Vegas. The O’Neill’s also manage and direct the Carson Valley Sinfonia, a 30-piece student string orchestra.