Benjamin Oliver (b. 1981) is a composer of, in the main, contemporary instrumental music. More than sixty of his works have been performed, his music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, recorded and released by labels including Linn and Prima Facie, and his piece ‘Loop Concerto’ was nominated in the Contemporary Jazz category of the British Composer Awards 2017. His musical ideas often contain loops that reference jazz and other riff-based music but are combined, or offset by, a fascination with mechanical devices and systematic processes. He is Associate Professor in Composition at the University of Southampton and conductor of Workers Union Ensemble.
Key musical collaborators include: pianist Yshani Perinpanayagam; Ensemble Paramirabo (Montreal, 2016, 2020-2023); London Sinfonietta (‘Alternative Visions @ The BFI’, 2014; ‘Notes to the New Government’, 2015; Sinfonietta Academy 2016; Sinfonietta Short for solo percussion, 2017; community commission, 2021); ensemble mise-en (Mise-en Music Festival 2014 & 2018, New York); BBC Symphony Orchestra (SaM commission, 2013); Århus Sinfonietta (Sounds New, 2011); jazz pianist Ivo Neame (The Loop Project, 2017); and theorboist Elizabeth Kenny.
Ben has recently completed new works for New York toy pianist Dorothy Chan and a community piano piece for London Sinfonietta. Long term pandemic impacted projects include The Driver with poet Luke Wright for Riot Ensemble and a new large-scale theatre piece for Ensemble Paramirabo for puppeteers and ensemble, Pythagoras’ Toolkit developed in collaboration with theatre director Rachel Warr. Birmingham Record Company will release a portrait album, Too Many Sweets, in 2024.
Benjamin Oliver is a composer, conductor, electronic musician and pianist. He was born in 1981 and grew up in Chatham, Kent, in the UK. He completed his AHRC and PRSF funded DPhil in Composition, supervised by Sam Hayden, at the University of Sussex in 2010. Ben composes, in the main, contemporary instrumental music. More than fifty of his works have been performed and his music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His musical ideas often contain loops that reference jazz and other riff-based music but are combined, or offset by, a fascination with mechanical devices and systematic processes. He is Associate Professor in Composition at the University of Southampton.
Ben’s music has been commissioned and performed internationally and in the UK by ensembles and soloists including: London Sinfonietta (Sounds New 2012; ‘Alternative Visions @ The BFI’, 2014; ‘Notes to the New Government’, 2015, London Sinfonietta Academy 2016; Sinfonietta Short for solo percussion, 2017; community commission, 2021); ensemble mise-en (Mise-en Music Festival 2014 & 2018, New York); BBC Symphony Orchestra (SAM Commission, broadcast BBC Radio 3); Yshani Perinpanayagam (Kammer Klang, 2017); Elizabeth Kenny (Cumnock Tryst 2014, Vantaa Festival 2016); jazz pianist Ivo Neame (with Kent County Youth Orchestral, 2014 and HARTLEY Loop Orchestra, 2017); Emanuele Torquati; Orkest de Ereprijs (International Young Composers Meeting 2010, The Netherlands); Ostrava Banda (Ostrava Days Festival 2009, Czech Republic); Aarhus Sinfonietta (Sounds New 2011); toy pianist Dorothy Chan; Black Dyke and Rothwell Temperance Brass Bands; Dan Stern’s Woodwork (London Jazz Festival 2008); The Mobius Ensemble with Hackney CYM Children’s Choir (Spitalfields Festival 2010); Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir; Musarc (London Festival of Architecture 2010); Stsura/Foyle/Lang Piano Trio (Deal Festival 2015); Riot Ensemble and Juice Vocal Ensemble; Kosmos; Kent County Youth Orchestra; and Leeds Sinfonia.
Ben was chosen as one of the winners of the International Composer Pyramid (ICP) 2010 and 2011, set-up by the Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival, UK, with Coups de Vents, France. His piece was voted best in the audience votes in both England and France in the ICP 2012. He was one of Sound and Music’s New Voices 2014 and is a former LSO Soundhub Associate Composer and was nominated in the Contemporary Jazz Category of the British Composer Awards 2017.
As conductor of Workers Union Ensemble Ben has directed the premiere performances of numerous works by many young (and older) composers and recorded works by Joe Cutler for NMC and Matthew Kaner for BBC Radio 3. He has also worked with a range of professional, youth, amateur and student ensembles and orchestras including Performing Arts Collaboration South, London Sinfonietta, Kent County Youth Orchestra and University of Leeds Union Symphony Orchestra. Since 2014 he has directed numerous major projects at the University of Southampton that bring together professional and student musicians, including the premiere of Michael Finnissy’s Remembrance Day, and performances of seminal works by Steve Reich, Lois V. Vierk and Richard Ayres.
He lives in Bitterne Park, Southampton, with his family and dog, Peggy.