Des Oliver

Post-minimalist, and at times impressionistic, infused with African-diasporic influences, Des Oliver’s music draws from a variety of genres and styles, and combines driving rhythms with vivid colours, often culminating in mesmerising and immersive musical landscapes.

Commissions include works for the Bach Choir and Faust Chamber Orchestra (released on Stone Records), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, ‘Rush’ for the Pegasus Opera Company (featured on Channel 4 News), and Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra. His ‘Dionysian Rivers Flow Through Me’ was selected for the International Computer Music Conference in Daegu, South Korea. He has composed works for the soloist Clio Gould, All India Radio Artist Shruti Jauhari, The Fusion Project’s Janan Sathiendran, and for accordionist Mingyuan Ruan (winner of 27th IBLA international music competition).

His music has been performed at the South Bank Centre, LSO St Lukes, The Bridewell Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, Oxford Playhouse, The Sheldonian Theatre, Holywell Music Room, Greenwich Theatre, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. His music has been broadcast on Accordion Noir, Vancouver Co-Op Radio.

His short Opera commissioned by Tête á Tête in collaboration with librettist Meredith Oakes was reviewed by the Independent, Telegraph, and Observer. Tempo magazine describes his music as ‘utterly compelling’. He is currently working on his first full-length Windrush Opera with playwright Edson Burton MBE.

International performances include Wegelius Hall in Helsinki, Pärnu Music Festival in Estonia, Akademie múzickych umeni in Prague and at the II Música Nueva Málaga International Festival in Spain, collaborating with soloist Emil Sein and choreographer Lisa Naugle.

Oliver is also a filmmaker, his curated documentary series — Identity and the Anxiety of Influence — commissioned by Sound and Music for the British Music Collection explores issues surrounding black identity in classical music. He was a regular co-host for the Sound and Music podcast series alongside Susanna Eastburn MBE, and hosted the Festival of New for Britten Pears Arts in 2021.

Oliver also has a distinguished teaching career, having taught composition at Brunel University, Academy of Contemporary Music, Aldeburgh Young Musicians (AYM) at Snape Maltings, and is currently teaching at Oxford University. He has given lectures at Cardiff and City, University of London, and has been a keynote speaker for TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) and at the University of Trinidad and Tobago composer’s symposium.

He studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Robert Saxton and Simon Bainbridge. He won a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music with Steve Martland, holds a doctorate in composition at Worcester College, Oxford, and is a Jerwood composer with the London Symphony Orchestra.

He is a signed artist with Hennessey Brown Music Agency.