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Dr Benjamin Oliver MMus, DPhil

Head of Music Department and Associate Professor in Composition

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Dr Benjamin Oliver is Head of Music 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 led an innovative 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. 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, The Driver, 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.

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 2020 I led a performance project led Richard Ayres' 'In the Alps' (2008) featuring leading soprano Juliet Fraser as soloist.

Research interests

  • Composition
  • Conducting
  • Contemporary Music
  • Computer Music
  • Jazz and Popular Music Performance
  • Music and Cochlear Implants
  • Improvisation

Research group

Composition and Music Technology

Affiliate research group

Music Performance Research

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.

Capturing the Contemporary Conductor

This British Academy/Leverhulme Trust funded interdisciplinary project sets out to use high-quality motion capture, video and audio recording to provide an online resource for those studying conducting gestures and developing systems for automatic conductor following systems.

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Dr Benjamin Oliver
Music Department
Building 2
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 2/2016

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