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Dr Benjamin Oliver 

Lecturer in Composition

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Dr Benjamin Oliver is a Lecturer in Composition in Music at the University of Southampton.


I am the Music Department’s Senior Tutor. This means that I help students with any personal problems they may have, particularly when these are detrimental to their studies or general well-being.


In 2010 I completed my AHRC-funded DPhil in Composition at the University of Sussex under the supervision of Sam Hayden. Following work as a postdoctoral researcher at Southampton, I began teaching at the University in 2011 before being appointed as Lecturer in 2012. I teach modules including: Composition Fundamentals, a first year composition based module that introduces students to a range of ways of thinking about composition; Composition Workshop A and B, modules for second and third year students that introduce 20th and 21st century compositional techniques and approaches; Composition Portfolio, a third year module that includes seminars introducing further compositional methodologies, as well as one-to-one supervision and performance workshops; and Composition Seminar, a masters module focusing on analysis, orchestration and writing about contemporary music. I also supervise a range of MMus portfolios and PhD projects.


As a composer I have had nearly fifty works performed by soloists, choirs and ensembles. Recent commissions and performances include: London Sinfonietta (Sounds New 2012; ‘Alternative Visions @ The BFI’, 2014; ‘Notes to the New Government’, 2015); ensemble mise-en (Mise-en Music Festival 2014, New York); BBC Symphony Orchestra (Sound and Music Commission, broadcast BBC Radio 3 in January 2013); Stsura/Foyle/Lang Piano Trio (Deal Festival 2015); and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny (Cumnock Tryst 2014). I am currently working on three commissions: a London Sinfonietta ‘Short’ for solo trombone; a large ensemble piece for the London Sinfonietta Academy; and a work for Montreal-based group Ensemble Paramaribo.


Alongside my composition activities I have also worked as an arranger, electronic musician and jazz pianist. I am also the conductor of the Workers Union Ensemble.






Research interests

Contemporary Music
Computer Music
Music and Cochlear Implants
Performance (Conducting and Piano)
Jazz and Popular Music


Research group

Composition and Music Technology

Research project(s)

Compositions for cochlear implantees

This AHRC-funded collaboration between Music and colleagues in Southampton's Institute for Sound and Vibration Research explored ways of helping deaf people with cochlear implants to get more enjoyment from music.

Chi Mei Ricercari

Professor Michael Finnissy’s ‘Chi Mei Ricercari’ is a new work for cello and piano, written especially for three historic cellos from the world famous Chi Mei Culture Foundation collection of stringed instruments. It is heard in full for the first time on 10 December 2013 at Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, on 11 December at National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu and 12 December at National Taiwan University in Taipei.



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Dr Benjamin Oliver
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

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