South African composer living in Ireland, born 26 July, 1949, in Pietermaritzburg
Kevin Volans was born on 26 July, 1949 in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. In 1972, he graduated from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. He then undertook further studies at the University of Aberdeen. From 1973 to 1981, he lived in Cologne, where he studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Musikhochschule, serving as Stockhausen’s in 1975-76. He also studied with Mauricio Kagel (theatrical music) and Aloys Kontarsky (piano), and studied electronic music from 1976 to 1980. During this time, he worked as a freelance composer, and was associated with the “New Simplicity” movement. He undertook four study trips abroad during which he recorded African music for German radio (WDR in Cologne), and composed several radio programmes for WDR, Belgian Radio and Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany), as well as overseeing the publication of Feedback Papers along with Johannes Fritsch. From 1982 to 1984, he taught composition at the University of Natal in Durban, where obtained a Doctorate of Music in 1985. Later that year, he moved to Paris, and then to Cork the following year. In 1984 and 1986, he served as a teaching advisor at the Darmstadt Summer courses. In 1988, he was a membre of the jury at the International Computer Music Conference in Cologne. From 1986 to 1989, he was composer-in-residence at Queen’s University in Belfast, and in 1992, at Princeton University. He became an Irish citizen in 1995 and currently lives in Dublin.
Volans’ works have been performed throughout the world, notably at Berliner Festwoche, Salzburg Festival, Lincoln Center, Next Wave Festival (New York), New Music America (Miami), Interlink Festival (Tokyo), World Music Days (Bonn), Belfast Festival, Adelaide Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, QEH, National Theatre, ICA, Wigmore Hall (London), Turin Opera House, the Vienna State Opera and at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. He has also performed as a pianist on radio and television.
Recordings of his works are featured on no less that twelve CDs, among which Pieces of Africa was the second highest-selling CD of classical music in the United States in 1993.
Some 20 dance companies throughout the world have used Volans’ music, including White Oak Dance Company; Daniel Ezralow and Judith Marcuse (USA); Shobana Jeyasingh, Jonathan Burrows, Rambert Dance Company and Siobhan Davies (London); Renato Zanella at the Vienna State Opera; Roberto Costello (Italy); and Ballet North (Australia).
Recent commissions include the music for Sound on Film for BBC 2, a piece for two pianos to be performed by Double Edge (New York), a piano concerto for Peter Donohoe and the Dutch Wind Ensemble, music for Blue Yellow, a short film about Sylvie Guillem, co-directed by Matteo Fargion and a new, large-scale ballet for theJonathan Burrows Group (London). His piano concerto was premiered at the BBC Proms in 1996.
Biographical information kindly provided by Chester Editions
© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 1997