A composer, performer and academic, Mel took up the Chair of Performing Arts at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, in March 2016. From 1992 to 2016, he worked as a lecturer in music at University College Cork. He was appointed as the first Head of UCC School of Music of Music and Theatre in 2009 and promoted to Professor in 2015.
Mel learned to play the bodhrán and bones from his father, Peadar Mercier, and as a traditional musician he is probably best known for his performances over the last 35 years with pianist and composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin.
In 1991, he completed a Masters Degree in World Music Percussion at CALARTS in Los Angeles, where he studied African, Indian and Indonesian musics. He is the director of the Cork Gamelan Ensemble, which released its debut album The Three Forges to critical acclaim in August 2015.
Throughout the 1980s, Mel and his father performed with the influential American experimental composer John Cage and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, performing Cage’s ambitious Roaratorio: An Irish Circus on Finnegan’s Wake in the UK, Europe and North America.
As a composer for theatre, Mel works often with director Deborah Warner and actor Fiona Shaw. He was nominated for a Tony Award and won the New York Drama Desk Award for his soundscore for the Testament of Maryon Broadway in 2012. Recent projects include composition and sound design for The Tempest (Salzburg Festival 2016) and co-devising of Sacrifice at Easter with Pat McCabe and Pat Kiernan (Cork Midsummer Festival 2016). Mel is currently working on several productions, including Beckett’s How it Is (Gare St Lazare Ireland), CONCERT, a new dance show with Colin Dunne, and King Lear at the Old Vic, London.
Documentary On One: Peadar Mercier is Mel's first radio documentary.