A selection of press cuttings and reviews of my work.
Scottish Herald, October 2014:
And a solo theorbo recital is rare thing, but the Tapestry Room of Dumfries House with a log fire spitting behind the audience was the perfect context for Elizabeth Kenny to play a little motet by MacMillan and a wonderful new piece by Benjamin Oliver, Extending from the Inside, which sounded a little like King Crimson’s Robert Fripp guesting with the Young Marble Giants.
Keith Bruce, 6 November 2014
Tempo, April 2014:
“Rounding off the concert’s first half, Benjamin Oliver’s Lullaby for Joni was another, quite different, bipartite structure in which the initial material presents a variety of different ideas which are then repeated and transformed, in the composer’s words, ‘as if suddenly heard in a “womb” acoustic environment’, a metamorphosis effected by woodwind and brass blowing into their instruments and the first violins playing col legno. This final section built up to a massive climax, after which the closing bars were quiet and expectant, an appropriate denouement for a piece written to celebrate the arrival of the composer’s daughter. Refreshingly unsentimental, Oliver’s score was clear, concise and compact, displaying an economy of gesture and an ability to realise fully the potential of its material that bodes well for this creative artist’s future progress.”
Paul Conway, Tempo / Volume 68 / Issue 268 / April 2014, p. 81.
The Londonist from November 2013:
“[Lullaby for Joni] was an intense lullaby and had very loud elements which I was not sure one would play to a sleeping child. It was enjoyable and fun to watch some of the violinist faces as they created white noise by scraping the bow, something that looked quite alien even to them. It was a sound I was not sure I would like initially but it was strangely soothing overall.”
“…As [Lullaby for Joni] grew with layers of texture being added one by one over a steady crescendo I actually began to feel extremely uncomfortable, feeling as though I was trapped in a womb. I was pleased when the piece had finished but also fairly awestruck at the sheer power of the music and the effect it had had on me.”
Comments from audience reviewers as reported in the Londonist
The Londonist from September 2013:
“I enjoyed the music with the exception of [Ben Oliver’s] Three Materials that to my ear sounded like someone randomly hitting piano keys while not paying attention, a bit like doodling while you’re talking on the phone.”
Comment from an audience member as reported in the Londonist
Sounds New Blog from May 2012:
“The programme also included Benjamin Oliver’s Ripped Up, for the complete six-piece ensemble. Delicate opening piano chords lead into a driving groove pitching four-against-three rhythms; an elegiac episode interrupts with a cluster-chord, and showed some careful textural writing in the creation of some effective woodwind and percussion sonorities. A ticking shaker sees time fragmenting in its erratic utterances, whilst the piano picks out some gossamer-thread shapes above hushed, low saxophone trills; but the rhythmic impetus is not to be denied, and returns with driving momentum. The faltering ticker interrupts once more, accompanied by haunting mobiles from the xylophone that fall across the barline, before a hesitant conclusion sees the piece finishing with wide-eyed expectancy.
A fascinating programme, delivered with real accomplishment by youthful former members of the Guildhall School. Expect to hear more from them, and from Benjamin Oliver in the future.”
Daniel Harding on the Sounds New Blog, 14 May 2012
Daily Telegraph from May 2011:
“All the pieces were suggestive and quick on their feet, as were the two new British pieces by Hugo Ribiera and Benjamin Oliver (which seemed distinctly English in this company, perhaps because Birtwistle’s savage musical machines were their common ancestor).”
Ivan Hewett in The Telegraph, 25 May 2011
Hertfordshire Advertiser from November 2010: