Composer of the Week: Michael Oliva

Tell us a little about your background
I actually started off as a biochemist, but have always loved writing music, so took the plunge and became a composer in the early nineties. I've always had a particular affinity for woodwind instruments (especially low flutes!) and electronics, so these are usually involved in everything I write.

What have your career highlights been so far?
Working with rarescale has been a fantastic experience throughout my time with them. Every time we play Apparition and Release it feels like a real treat. The premiere of my Requiem at St Albans Cathedral was a very moving event for me, and hearing my latest opera Singularity has to be on the list too

Tell us something about your current work
I'm still recovering from having finished my opera Singularity last summer - it was a lot of work putting that together, but the premiere at the Royal College of Music went really well. Since then I've been relaxing a bit, but I did write a work for baroque flute and electronics called River Swoon - it was fun exploring the expressive nature of the baroque instrument.

What projects have you got lined up for the future?
Next is a work for contrabass flute and electronics which I'm very excited about - it's such an amazing sound world.

Can you introduce us to one of your low flute pieces?
Moss Garden is a piece for bass flute and electronics that I wrote in 2006. It was inspired by a trip to Japan I'd just taken, and the beautiful and highly atmospheric temple gardens of Kyoto. It's not technically very demanding for the flautist, and the electronics are simple to organise - it's just a fixed track that you play along with.

How would you recommend someone gets started on learning Moss Garden?
Think in long phrases, focusing on being as expressive as possible - and remember that even if it doesn't look like it, it's basically romantic music (with a twist...)

What performances do you have coming up?
Carla Rees and I are performing River Swoon in the rarescale concert at the Forge on the 10th February

Michael's website

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