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Dr Benjamin Oliver 

Head of Music Department and Associate Professor in Composition

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Dr Benjamin Oliver is Head of Music from Summer 2019 and Associate Professor in Composition at the University of Southampton.

I completed my AHRC-funded DPhil in Composition at the University of Sussex under the supervision of Sam Hayden in 2010. Following work as a postdoctoral researcher at Southampton, I began teaching at the University in 2011. I teach modules including Composition Workshop, a module for second and third year students that introduces 20th and 21st century compositional techniques and approaches, and Composition Portfolio, a third year module that includes seminars introducing further compositional methodologies, as well as one-to-one supervision and performance workshops. In the 2019-2020 academic year I will also be helping to deliver a brand new exciting community music module in partnership with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Alongside my undergraduate teaching I also supervise a range of MMus portfolios and PhD projects.

More than fifty of my works have been performed by orchestras, ensembles, choirs and soloists. Recent commissions and performances include: London Sinfonietta ('Alternative Visions @ The BFI', 2014; 'Notes to the New Government', 2015; Sinfonietta Academy 2016); ensemble mise-en (Mise-en Music Festival 2014 and 2018, New York); BBC Symphony Orchestra (Sound and Music Commission, broadcast BBC Radio 3, 2013); Ensemble Paramirabo (Montreal, 2016); pianist Yshani Perinpanayagam (Various; 2013-2019); and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny (Various, 2014-2019). Upcoming projects include a work with poet Luke Wright for Riot Ensemble and a new large-scale theatre piece for Ensemble Paramirabo for puppeteers and ensemble developed in collaboration with theatre director Rachel Warr.

Alongside my composition activities I have also worked as a conductor, arranger, electronic musician and jazz pianist, and conduct the Workers Union Ensemble. In February 2017 I directed the 'Loop Project', which featured Southampton students performing my 'Loop Concerto' alongside leading jazz musicians Ivo Neame, Jasper Høiby and Jon Scott and in January 2019 lead a project built around Steve Reich's 'Music for a Large Ensemble' (1979). In February I will direct a performance project focused on Richard Ayres' 'In the Alps' featuring leading soprano Juliet Fraser as soloist.

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
Music Department
Building 2
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 2/2016

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