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Volans, Kevin
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Biography

Kevin Volans (b. 1949)

Kevin Volans has lived in Ireland since 1986 and is an Irish citizen. He was born on 26 July 1949 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In 1972 he graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, followed by post-graduate study at the University of Aberdeen. From 1973 until 1981 he lived in Cologne where he was a pupil of Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Musikhochschule and later his teaching assistant (1975-76). He also studied with Mauricio Kagel (music theatre), Aloys Kontarsky (piano), and electronic music (1976-1980). During this time he worked as a freelance composer, where, before moving on to his African-based pieces, his work was associated with the so-called New Simplicity. His other activities included four field trips recording African music on behalf of the West German Radio (WDR Köln), writing many programmes for the WDR, Belgian Radio and the Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) and co-editing Feedback Papers with Johannes Fritsch. From 1982 to 1984 he taught composition at the University of Natal, Durban, where he was awarded a D Mus in 1985. After this he returned to freelance composition, moving to Paris in 1985 and to Cork in 1986. In 1984 and 1986 he was on the board of professors of the Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music and in 1988 on the jury of the International Computer Music Conference (Cologne). From 1986 to 1989 he was Composer-in-Residence at Queen’s University, Belfast, and in 1992 he was Composer-in-Residence at Princeton University, New Jersey. He is currently resident in Dublin. Many hundreds of concerts and broadcasts of his work have been given worldwide. Performances of the last few years include the Berliner Festwoche, the Salzburg Festival, Lincoln Center (NYC), Next Wave Festival (New York), New Music America (Miami), Interlink Festival (Tokyo), World Music Days (Bonn), Belfast Festival, Adelaide Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, the QEH, ICA etc (London), the Turin Opera House and the Vienna State Opera. In 1996 he was the featured composer in the Netherlands Wind Ensemble’s New Year’s Day live television broadcast from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Fourteen compact discs which feature his music have been released, one of which, ‘Pieces of Africa’, became the second biggest selling classical CD in the USA in 1993. Some 20+ dance companies worldwide have featured his music, including the White Oak Dance Company, Daniel Ezralow and Judith Marcuse (USA); Shobana Jeyasingh, Jonathan Burrows, Rambert Dance Company and Siobhan Davies (London); The Vienna State Opera (Zanella); Roberto Costello (Italy); and Ballet North (Australia).

Recent commissions include music for ‘Sound on Film’ for BBC2; a piece for the Swedish percussionist Jonny Axelsson; a cello concerto for Bayerischer Rundfunk; a new dance piece for the Frankfurt Ballet (choreographer: Jonathan Burrows); a two-piano piece for Double Edge (New York); a piano concerto for Peter Donohoe and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble (which received its UK première at the 1996 BBC Proms) and music for ‘Blue Yellow’ - a short dance film for Sylvie Guillem. Current projects include dance works for Siobhan Davies and Shobana Jeyasingh and a series of six Etudes for solo piano.

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