I found his music utterly compelling, Oliver is plainly a man to watch
—MARTIN ANDERSON, TEMPO MAGAZINE
Des Oliver 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, has had Masterclasses with Tom Adés, Nicholas Maw, the BBC Singers, Paavo Heininen, Paul Rouders, Simone Fontanelli and participated in the 2015 composer-choreographer collaboration funded by the RPS Drummond Fund at Rambert Dance Company.
He has taught composition at Brunel University, Magdalen College, St John’s, St Hugh’s, Christ Church, Exeter, and University College, Oxford and was a Senior Lecturer in composition and music production at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM), Guildford. He completed his doctorate in composition and critical writing at Worcester College, Oxford and was recently appointed as Jerwood Composer-in-Residence at the London Symphony Orchestra.
Commissions include works for The Bach Choir and Faust Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Pegasus Opera Company, Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Isis and All India Radio Artist Shruti Jauhari, The Fusion Project’s Janan Sathiendran, a short Opera by the Tête á Tête Opera Company in collaboration with librettist Meredith Oakes, reviewed by the Observer, Independent, and Telegraph. Works for international soloists include Clio Gould, and Chinese accordionist (winner of 27th IBLA international music competition) Mingyuan Ruan. His music has been performed at the B.M.I.C, the South Bank Centre (Park Lane Group Young Composer’s Symposium), The Bridewell Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, The Sheldonian Theatre, Holywell Music Room, Greenwich Theatre, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and Chelmsford Music Festival.
Theatre scores include Euripides’ Bacchae at the Oxford Playhouse (Oxford Greek Play 2017). 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 (2009) with soloist Emil Sein, Dino Ghezzo, and choreographer Lisa Naugle. Oliver’s piece-Dionysian Rivers Flow Through Me-was selected for the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) 2018 in Daegu, South Korea.
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 with the breadth of new music produced by BAME composers across the UK.