Oliver originally studied at Aberdeen University to become a classroom music teacher and in 2000, he moved to Glasgow, where he studied with John Maxwell Geddes, gaining a Distinction for his Masters degree, then continuing to complete a PhD in composition. He has since written works for the National Youth Choir of Scotland, the Hebrides Ensemble, Red Note, the Scottish Reed Trio, the Paragon Ensemble, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Drake Music Scotland, the New Music Players and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.


What drew you to a career in music?

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen, and became a classroom music
teacher, but I always had a deep-rooted urge to learn more; I have always been curious and
desperate to gain more knowledge. I still feel like I don’t know enough, and as time goes by, I
become more aware of what I don’t know, so with the variety of work in my career, I have that
opportunity to constantly research new information, making links between different aspects of
music and then allowing this to feed into my own creative practice as a composer and educator.

How would you describe your work?

I love reflecting on past experiences in my life, and then finding ways to engage with these musically,
with the hope that others will be drawn to these too, and find a commonality and understanding
with what I am attempting to convey. I often make use of various styles of music
borrowed/stolen/scavenged from elsewhere, and am obsessed with harmony, as well as placing
differing musical ideas against, or on top of one another. I also work collaboratively much of the
time, finding new performance environments for new music, and exploring ways to allow music to
become more inclusive.

What positive and negative aspects have you found lockdown has had on your work?

I have found it hard to be creative; I am busier than ever juggling my role at the RCS (with a massive
increase in childcare hours), whilst trying to work out what happens with creative work after all of
this. Like everyone in the arts, I have had projects shifted, or permanently cancelled, but am
beginning to find some time to catch up with anything still in the pipeline. It has been a massively
reflective, soul-searching time for us all, which has allowed me to carefully consider what I would
most like to be involved in again in the future.


In 2018,Oliver won a British Composer Award for Microscopic Dances, which uses digital technologies to provide the opportunity for disabled and non – disabled young musicians to play together in an integrated ensemble. The judges said: “ There is nothing microscopic about the ambition and impact of this courageous work”.






Listen to a selection of Oliver’s work on his SoundCloud playlist:



Listen to a performance of Snowbirds by the Illuminati Wind Quartet:


This, and some of Oliver’s other pieces, are available to buy via the SMC shop. 

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