Born in Clarecastle, County Clare, Ireland in 1952, after completing studies at University College Dublin Gerald Barry went to Amsterdam and later Cologne to continue his studies. During his time in Germany he studied with Stockhausen and Kagel. Many of his works have been commissioned by the BBC and he has enjoyed a long association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. He was commissioned by London's South Bank Centre for the fiftieth birthday of the Royal Festival Hall in 2001.
The Importance of Being Earnest is an opera in three acts based on the text by Oscar Wilde. It was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Barbican Centre, London. It had its UK premiere on the 26 April 2012 at the Barbican Hall, London and was performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Thomas Adès.